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Serious wargames present the opposing forces as realistically as possible. Combat Mission is a serious war game.

 

Funny no one complains about how the Italians are as brittle as dried elastic - isn't that unbalanced ;)? Balance isn't realism; it's a tournament. 

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Not at random at all. That's where they were last seen as part of a formation (295th MRD) back in 1990. 

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6 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

But in serious wargames things are usually more balanced.  :mellow:

You pays your money.....

not necessarily.  The goal of a serious wargame should be to present the antagonists as accurately as possible, not artificially distort it for "balance".   Balance comes into Scenario design in trying to create a battle whose victory conditions allow for both sides to have a chance to win.  What constitutes winning may be completely different for the forces involved.  You know that as well as anyone  :D - your Mosul scenario is a great example. 

 

22 minutes ago, sid_burn said:

Of course NATO is overpowered, the good guys usually are in video games ;)

A lot of the pieces of what makes NATO more powerful actually aren't part of CMBS as they are beyond scope.  They can be reflected, but aren't inherently shown.  Better logistics for example.   BF has explicitly stated they will not include Nationality specific items.  If you want to reflect NATO troops being better trained you have to invoke that in the soft factors yourself.  The actual capabilities of the equipment included is a whole different issue.

1 minute ago, Rinaldi said:

Serious wargames present the opposing forces as realistically as possible. Combat Mission is a serious war game.

Funny no one complains about how the Italians are as brittle as dried elastic - isn't that unbalanced ;)? Balance isn't realism; it's a tournament. 

Exactly

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Sorry, expanded my post while you responded.....The balance of the WWII games feels spot on to me, the Italians are pants until you meet some experienced Bersaglieri, then they are a different matter (but still have crap gear). 

My only real issue with CM:BS these days is the apparent US spotting advantage and only then in a tank vs. tank engagement (TBH the whole spotting thing still bemuses me slightly in this one, I've had top-rate Soviet/Russian/Ukrainian AFVs of both sides unable to see enemy tanks on apparently unobscured open terrain. I don't recall this ever happening with an Abrams but wouldn't rule it out as I don't play them much.)

7 minutes ago, sburke said:

The goal of a serious wargame should be to present the antagonists as accurately as possible, not artificially distort it for "balance".

Don't be daft, you are deliberately taking my comment out of context, it was a direct response to this:

34 minutes ago, sid_burn said:

Of course NATO is overpowered, the good guys usually are in video games ;)

Are we to take Sid's statement literally?  :rolleyes:

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9 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

My only real issue with CM:BS these days is the apparent US spotting advantage and only then in a tank vs. tank engagement (TBH the whole spotting thing still bemuses me slightly in this one, I've had top-rate Soviet/Russian/Ukrainian AFVs of both sides unable to see enemy tanks on apparently unobscured open terrain. I don't recall this ever happening with an Abrams but wouldn't rule it out as I don't play them much.)

We're always willing to check and see if there's a systemic problem.  If one can be identified, we're more than happy to fix it.  You know, because that's what pro-NATO biased guys do ;)

11 minutes ago, sburke said:

not necessarily.  The goal of a serious wargame should be to present the antagonists as accurately as possible, not artificially distort it for "balance". 

Absolutely.  When we make our simulations we "let the chips fall where they may".  I know that Charles and I personally don't give a rat's behind what we come up with for this or that vehicle, weapon, etc.  What we care about is that those values are defendable.  Since 1999 we've been accused of being biased towards this or that, against this or that.  The fun thing is nobody has ever, EVER, been able to make a convincing factual argument to support the accusations. 

What it really boils down to is the accuser being biased, not us.

Steve

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9 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

%Sorry, expanded my post while you responded.....The balance of the WWII games feels spot on to me, the Italians are pants until you meet some experienced Bersaglieri, then they are a different matter (but still have crap gear). 

My only real issue with CM:BS these days is the apparent US spotting advantage and only then in a tank vs. tank engagement (TBH the whole spotting thing still bemuses me slightly in this one, I've had top-rate Soviet/Russian/Ukrainian AFVs of both sides unable to see enemy tanks on apparently unobscured open terrain. I don't recall this ever happening with an Abrams but wouldn't rule it out as I don't play them much.)

But the US does have a flat out spotting advantage from the simple fact that there are more eyes on.  Russian tank - 3 guys, one of which is focused on driving.  NATO tank 4 guys with one dedicated to driving so you have 50% more eyes from people in a position to be dedicated observers, not to even begin with the optics available.

As to Russian/Ukrainian issue I can't say I have had that much experience either and honestly I am much more into the infantry aspect.  :D  TFSR is one I mess with a lot, right up my alley.

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7 minutes ago, Battlefront.com said:

We're always willing to check and see if there's a systemic problem.  If one can be identified, we're more than happy to fix it.  You know, because that's what pro-NATO biased guys do ;)

I know dude.....You are not under attack here.  :D

PS - Oplots?  :P

6 minutes ago, sburke said:

But the US does have a flat out spotting advantage from the simple fact that there are more eyes on.

I think you may be overestimating the loader's contribution.....Especially once the shooting starts.  ;)

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7 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

I know dude.....You are not under attack here.  :D

I think you may be overestimating the loader's contribution.....Especially once the shooting starts.  ;)

But once the shooting starts the whole spotting equation has changed right?  and frankly the loader would seem to have more time to actually look all around as opposed to the gunner who is looking at the target.  So still given a 3 man crew versus a 4 man crew.  Once the shooting starts the gunner in both tanks will be more focused meaning the impact of the loader might be more profound.

The reality is I have no experience that qualifies me to weigh in - I think it is time for panzer sauerkraut mortar to chime in!

paging @panzersaurkrautwerfer Please report to the armor tactics briefing room please.

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That article I linked to by Scott Peck made the point, over and over again, that theoretical parity or superiority is undermined by things which aren't on the spec sheets.

Years ago I remember a situation like this...

A guy with a 166MHz Pentium complaining that a particular game was running slow.  "I have the fastest chip on the market, this game should scream!  So it's got to be the game that's bad!".  Someone with a 120MHz Pentium said "hmmm, the game runs liquid fast for me and I have a much slower processor".  Well, guess what?  The first guy bought a bottom of the barrel PC from Staples, the other guy had a system made by a quality brand.  The difference turned out to be the bus speed.  The bottom of the barrel PC used a REALLY cheap, slow bus while the other one used a much faster one. 

The lesson then is the same as it is now... in theory the guy with the 166 should have had a superior gaming experience compared to the guy with the 120.  But he didn't.  When the guy bought the 166 nowhere on the spec sheet did it say "complete with a piece of crap motherboard that will make this 166 run like a 66".  Gee, wonder why Staples didn't put that on their sell sheet?

:D

Steve

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7 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

I know dude.....You are not under attack here.  :D

That was directed elsewhere with tongue firmly in cheek ;)

Seriously, if someone can show something that doesn't look right, we will definitely look into it.  Sometimes Charles forgets to carry the one or puts a decimal in the wrong place ;)  OK, not exactly that but you get the point.

Steve

 

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6 minutes ago, sburke said:

But once the shooting starts the whole spotting equation has changed right?  and frankly the loader would seem to have more time to actually look all around as opposed to the gunner who is looking at the target.  So still given a 3 man crew versus a 4 man crew.  Once the shooting starts the gunner in both tanks will be more focused meaning the impact of the loader might be more profound.

I'd have thought he would be much too busy moving whopping great rounds and making sure the ammo bay doors are closed etc.  Also does the loader have the optics to make a serious contribution?  I'll wait for someone with Abrams experience to comment here, I'm sure they can enlighten us, but I thought the advantage was actually supposed to be down to superior sensors, a gap that may be narrowing.

1 minute ago, Battlefront.com said:

That was directed elsewhere with tongue firmly in cheek ;)

Seriously, if someone can show something that doesn't look right, we will definitely look into it.  Sometimes Charles forgets to carry the one or puts a decimal in the wrong place ;)  OK, not exactly that but you get the point.

Yup, I've come to understand exactly how seriously you take this and I've come to respect the games even more as a result.....I believe files for the 'Great Gagarina Avenue Spotting Debacle' were submitted via IanL.  B)

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1 minute ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

I'd have thought he would be much too busy moving whopping great rounds and making sure the ammo bay doors are closed etc.  Also does the loader have the optics to make a serious contribution?  I'll wait for someone with Abrams experience to comment here, I'm sure they can enlighten us, but I thought the advantage was actually supposed to be down to superior sensors, a gap that may be narrowing.

Oh I wasn't trying to deny that just to be clear.  I was just using a basic math item to show an easily explainable reason for better situational awareness.  I am not in any way shape or form qualified to comment on any other aspect.

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Unless one of us has taken a M1, Oplot & T-90A for a spin on an identical range, I suspect none of us are (Maybe write to Top Gear?  ;) ).....See if you foreign guys could all stop squabbling with one another we could have a proper 'Tank Biathlon' and get all this sorted out once and for all (Britain will win).  :D

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Abrams loaders are issued with Thermal Weapon Sights, ostensibly for use with the M240 but can be used in what we call eye-defilade on its own. They've had that since the first TUSK package. Additionally they have a rear-security thermal sight oriented to the chassis' 6.  The separated ammo compartment is handled by a foot pedal and I think we can safely say has very little to do with using one's upper body and eyes.  The loader also has 360 degree periscope, standard for most 4-man tanks. If memory serves; the driver shares his night-driving vision with the same periscope so its use is limited to daylight hours. Not sure if it has magnification; never seen through it myself.

I've likely missed a few other amenities, but my real life encounters with M1s and their crews were fleeting, brief moments. However, the bottom line is that they have a 4th man with limited thermal capabilities and a wide field of view. I think it's uncontroversial to conclude that is more useful viz. situational awareness than an auto-carousel.  As an aside; unlike Leopard 2A4s as well; the Abrams loader has less technical tasks; the gunner on an Abrams must keep track of rounds, compared to a Leopard's loader. Leaves more time to look and listen for the Abrams' loader. 

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Re: Loader spotting

For spotting, he's not as useful.  If the tank is buttoned up, then he's got a small simple periscope to look out that's now largely masked by the loader's protective armor.  Even before this armor was installed it was a pretty bad periscope.  Unbuttoned he's really useful for the obvious reasons though, and his M240 usually mounts a thermal optic at least (same as dismounted M240 type).

Oddly enough, the driver is a very useful spotter when not hull down.  The driver's thermal optics are higher quality than most Russian gunner's optics (less zoom, but better resolution/thermal definition by far), and because he's reliably watching the "12" he'll often call off targets presenting in front of the tank if the gunner and commander are off looking at the flanks.


Re: Spotting advantage

The big advantages for the US are as follows:

1. With Russian sensors, you can have resolution or draw speed, not both.  Basically they see fairly well while stationary, but once you start "scanning" with them it gets blurry fast.  Additionally they have much less sensitivity between temperature gradients, so it sees "hot" or "cold" but not "hot, fairly hot, pretty hot I guess,  tepid coffee, somewhat cold, a bit chilly, and right cold then."  This makes a difference in that there's plenty of heat radiating surfaces (rocks, metal, animals,  etc).  Something with poor thermal sensitivity will give you basically a field of glowy stuff on a hot day.  This contrasts with the US type optics that'll give you the lines on camo patterns on a good day (lighter/darker paint retains heat differently).  

2. Simply put the US armor mounts more of the qualitatively better sensors.  

Re: Armata

Hell no.  I'm willing to accept some leaps, but right now there's enough wonky with that program to make the F-35 look like the model of rapid procurement and fielding.  

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32 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

Many thanks.  B)

What are the wonks with Armata that you mention? 

1. Russian industrial capacity is feces.  It's using technology the rest of the world's manufacturing base would consider comically obsolete, grossly inefficient labor practices, and is still basically reliant on foreign sourced parts or designs for most of it's modern electronics.  The current Armatas are basically bespoke, hand built from customized parts vs produced on an industrial scale.  Even beyond the tank itself....there's a lot of hurdles to overcome in making them when they're ready for production.

2. Without getting into a lot of detail, the Armata assumes a lot of risk in including stuff that the Russians haven't done yet (or have been historical Russian weaknesses, like computing/sensors), or no one has seriously done yet.  This makes for a more complex environment in which there are several areas that can full stop put the tank into development hell/hiatus.

3. The Russian economy is still poor/weak.  This is something that will need to be worked around.  An interesting conjecture is that a program that's selling point was to generate a common set of vehicles that will replace/most?/many of Russia's armored vehicle fleet loses a lot of it's value if it simply introduces a whole line of vehicles with zero parts commonality with systems that will still be in service for 20+years.  

4. There's a surprising number of upgrades being offered for Russian domestic use on tanks.  It's almost like there's something wrong with the heir apparent no?

5. Russian strategic posturing is more indicative of a limited conventional arm to exploit gains made using unconventional/informational/political domain activities.  Basically what you need Russian tanks to do is win a fight against a Latvia that somehow no longer has NATO defenders (or win quickly against a indecisive and distracted NATO).  The Armata is not this sort of tank, and is of questionable "value" in terms of what Russia realistically needs armor for.

Basically it's a tank Russia is hard pressed to build in quantity, taking a very risky development cycle, with budget constraints, with better/cheaper alternatives, that's not well suited to Russian defense needs.  

I don't think it'll ever get canceled entirely, but it's value is more in giving this impression of an unstoppable Russian bear vs going to war against the HATO dogs. 

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Cheers, I appreciate the comprehensive replies.....I wasn't aware of the resolution difference between NATO and Russian thermal imaging, that does clarify the spotting issue to some degree.  It may also partly explain the weirdness in Gagarina Avenue, IIRC the weather conditions are less than ideal.  B)

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1 hour ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

I wasn't aware of the resolution difference between NATO and Russian thermal imaging, that does clarify the spotting issue to some degree.

What I've found from some quick searches suggests that it's not NATO, but specifically US technological superiority. The Russian sights are supposedly based on the Thales Catherine [This article offers good information, but I've checked out a WOT thread as well: "French eyes for a Russian tiger," "Enjoyed an old T-90 vs M1A1 Topic"], which can scan in either the LWIR or the MWIR band [https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/defence/long-range-thermal-imagers-catherine-fc-gfc-xp-mp-ez-ws ]. The Yanks had developed sights that could scan simultaneously in both bands way back in 2006, and you can check out Table 1 on page 7 to see how superior they are to scanning in a single band: "3RD GENERATION THERMAL IMAGER SENSOR PERFORMANCE" https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjljfOiy_bWAhVM_WMKHWwjChMQFghRMAs&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dtic.mil%2Fget-tr-doc%2Fpdf%3FAD%3DADA481411&usg=AOvVaw0YWHjpQ5ZGowvoat5Boga8

1 hour ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

the weather conditions are less than ideal

In that same document, check out Figure 1 on page 2 to see how much thermals get degraded in sandstorms and fog. Also, as indicated in Table 1, "Wet Targets" minimize the advantage of Yank sights; specifically: "Next was wet targets. Wet targets in wet backgrounds in the IR are challenging because they have low contrast and markedly different emissivity and reflectivity characteristics than when dry. The goal here was to investigate the impact of naturally occurring wetting, e.g., heavy rainfall, in the MWIR and LWIR, and so NVESD collected imagery of a variety of wet targets and backgrounds after a heavy rainfall." (p. 6).

Time to experiment with weather settings. ;)

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Adding to what PzKraut said... manufacturing tolerances for thermals is, from what I understand, insanely small before there's a noticeable decrease in quality.  The ability to mass produce to that tolerance is beyond Russian industrial capabilities.  Knowing this they don't even try, but instead go with a lower level of tech which is not only cheaper but also more inline with their industrial capabilities.  Or they purchase them ;)

Then there's reliability.  There's tons of cheap things you can buy from China, for example, that out of the box are just as good as more expensive things.  But 2 months later the cheap one isn't working and the more expensive one is.  If you evaluated both within the first 2 months and wrote a review the recommendation might say "hey, there's really no difference so go with the cheap one".  But a day after your reviews you might say "on second thought, the rule of getting what you paid for seems to be true".

Steve

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23 minutes ago, Machor said:

What I've found from some quick searches suggests that it's not NATO, but specifically US technological superiority. The Russian sights are supposedly based on the Thales Catherine [This article offers good information, but I've checked out a WOT thread as well: "French eyes for a Russian tiger," "Enjoyed an old T-90 vs M1A1 Topic"], which can scan in either the LWIR or the MWIR band [https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/defence/long-range-thermal-imagers-catherine-fc-gfc-xp-mp-ez-ws ]. The Yanks had developed sights that could scan simultaneously in both bands way back in 2006, and you can check out Table 1 on page 7 to see how superior they are to scanning in a single band: "3RD GENERATION THERMAL IMAGER SENSOR PERFORMANCE" https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjljfOiy_bWAhVM_WMKHWwjChMQFghRMAs&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dtic.mil%2Fget-tr-doc%2Fpdf%3FAD%3DADA481411&usg=AOvVaw0YWHjpQ5ZGowvoat5Boga8

In that same document, check out Figure 1 on page 2 to see how much thermals get degraded in sandstorms and fog. Also, as indicated in Table 1, "Wet Targets" minimize the advantage of Yank sights; specifically: "Next was wet targets. Wet targets in wet backgrounds in the IR are challenging because they have low contrast and markedly different emissivity and reflectivity characteristics than when dry. The goal here was to investigate the impact of naturally occurring wetting, e.g., heavy rainfall, in the MWIR and LWIR, and so NVESD collected imagery of a variety of wet targets and backgrounds after a heavy rainfall." (p. 6).

Time to experiment with weather settings. ;)

RE:  US technological superiority

Some of it is US specific.  However someone who was much more of a thermal nerd than I would EVER aspire be to me went on at length about how some of it is just computational side stuff.  Like French non-export thermals while behind US optics, are still vastly superior to the models provided to the Russians, basically beyond sensitivity and into the ability to keep resolution while in motion or something.  

Re: Weather

I'm not sure how valid some of those statements are.  Like we shot gunnery in absolute pea soup in Korea, and conducted operations in monsoon weather and while some things were harder to see (the absolutely soaked plywood targets did not heat up as well on the warming pads, so they were dimmer), things like personnel or vehicles were still highly visible.  

In any event if it degraded the US thermals, it degraded our partner's optics more, and eyeball spotting was even worse.  So I'm not really sure there's a minimizing effect as much as the US sensors lose some of their very long range advantage, but they're still able to see long after other sensors are effectively blinded.   

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Thank you for the info. Regarding the weather, let me quote one more sentence from the report to clarify what they're saying: "Some additional field measurements and sensor performance modeling remain to be completed before final conclusions are reached, but these preliminary results seem to indicate that performance would be the same in LWIR and MWIR." (p. 7). So first, they're discussing 'preliminary results' from 2006, which may have later changed, or the technology may have improved since then. Second, they're not saying that the dual-band thermals were trashed [my bad if it sounded like that], rather that they had no advantage over scanning a single band. This is, of course, independent of factors like the computational aspect you mentioned; i.e. it is a comparison between two US sights that scan both bands or a single band. Again, my bad that it sounded like a comparison between US and RUS thermals in wet weather. Thus, I shall retract the statement "minimize the advantage of Yank sights," and go with "rob the Yank sights of a unique advantage, which would be interesting to scale against the performance loss of Russkie sights." :)

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9 hours ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

APS really is a thing for the Abrams etc. etc. 

Ahhhh...you going to have to show me some proof for that. I have been "arguing" on here for awhile that until CM:BS adds a module that brings the Israelis into the mix, all arguments about APS being realistically deployed by the vehicles in the game are worthless. Show me ANY other military that has operationally DEPLOYED APS on their combat vehicles? NOT "in testing" or "soon to be added". The US Army has been "promising" to buy a system for years...and yet we still aren't any closer than "in testing"!

Here is my proof..."The service made a decision to buy Trophy for Abrams on Sept. 29, Dean said, and now the Army is moving out to deploy the systems to Europe by 2020."

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/ausa/2017/10/09/europe-bound-army-to-urgently-field-abrams-tanks-with-trophy-active-protection-system/

"...deploy the system...by 2020" ...is NOT a valid argument that the US(or any side) should have it available in the game that we have been playing for the past couple of years. It is also why  you won't ever see me "buy" APS for my vehicles during QB. I am not faulting the game designers for including it when they created the game(~2015 I think) because it probably seemed like the sort of development that the US military(and the Russians) would have recognized as needed. But people keep forgetting that military procurement is "glacially SLOW!!"

So...just like the back-n-forth on whether the Armata should be included next...until someone shows me pics of an operational unit (say company size or up) in the US military that has APS installed...I'm going to say "NO WAY!" :D

 

P.S. I double checked on the US Marine Corps b/c I know sometimes they "cut through red tape" quicker, but "no" they haven't purchased it operationally yet either.

 http://defense-update.com/20160415_army-marine-corps-want-to-test-israels-trophy-aps-again.html

 

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