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So this is in relation to a topic I posted just before Thanksgiving.... There may be some mild spoilers ahead, but nothing I think is show-stopping.

Just recently I was playing The Lions of Carpiquet. For those who don't know it, it's a challenging campaign that covers a difficult battle in the Commonwealth sector west of Caen. It's one of the few that really gives the player some serious time to make decisions on how to approach the objectives and neutralize the Germans. The first two scenarios offer the players three hours to complete them; the second, I believe, is somewhere in the two-hour range. I was able to make good use of reconnaissance and artillery spotters to locate and eliminate German positions with supporting arms and shape the battlefield to make the best use of my infantry in the attack, and my armor when it was needed. I even got the chance to clear a mine belt with flail tanks, which was really cool to watch. I took casualties, but they felt reasonable to the firepower and deployment of the Germans and the unforgiving nature of the terrain (it's almost pancake flat throughout!). I remember thinking "Finally! I'm able to actually to use recon, tactics, and mission planning in a way that maximizes mission accomplishment while minimizing casualties. Scenarios 2 and 3--the first big moves of the campaign after the recon mission--were tough, but they're engaging. 

I had started this campaign after dropping Courage & Fortitude at around the Razorback Ridge scenario. I had managed through scenarios two and three, but once I hit Razorback Ridge I just gave up. It's an absurd scenario... Not because its a necessarily unrealistic piece of ground to have to take, or an unrealistic enemy, but because the scenario conditions themselves--the time and map limits--make it an over-the-top "lesson" in taking casualties just for the sake of doing it. Once I began Carpiquet, it gave me an opportunity to contrast between the two and learn a little bit about what frustrates me about the average scenario design, and learn a bit about myself as a player.

Here's what I learned: I hate taking casualties. But not just any casualties. I hate taking casualties that are forced on me by the conditions of the game itself and the scenario, NOT the conditions related to the enemy and the terrain. If I take casualties because I misread a piece of ground I can generally stomach that. I made the mistake. What I can't stomach is when I have to rush through a scenario because I have to take two or three objectives over a kilometer away, through a defender, with a rifle company or so, with less than an hour on the clock. I get frustrated near to the point of yelling whenever the morale model forces a squad to effectively commit suicide by running into the open, or worse, toward the enemy (which has happened more times than I can count), when they break and run from perfectly good cover when under fire. I want to throw my mouse through a window when a tank crew bails out of a perfectly good taken when they get nervous only to get cut down by an MG on the outside. 

Some of these are controllable, some of them are not. At least not yet. The engine is great, but flawed. But I'm confident that at some point those flaws will inevitably be worked out with enough time and programming. It's maddening beyond belief, however, when I have to take casualties over something completely avoidable within a scenario. . . . Or with how it's design.

Case in point: When I reached the fourth scenario in Carpiquet was was deployed with two companies, in the open, looking at a ruined, but dense town filled with Germans. I hid both companies, plus my mortar assets as best I could where they were placed. I pre-registered my mortars on likely areas with troop positions and called in my air where I felt it would do the most good, all as recommended in the scenarios briefing. Then I hit the Red Button.

Within the first five minutes my on-map mortar section was obliterated. A German sniper had popped four or five guys from one platoon. Mortars and MGs from within the town were raking another. I had no way of avoiding any of it. 

So I restarted the scenario.

On the second go, I replotted my fires and hid my guys. This time I avoided using the on-map mortars as that might be what was bringing down the mortars--perhaps they had been spotted as they fired. Instead I used my air and off-map 107mm to handle the prep. I pressed the Red Button. . . . And within five minutes the results were about the same. 

What I quickly realized was that the scenario, unlike the previous two, doesn't give the player the option or room to deploy in any other way. The Germans in the town were able to spot the Bren carriers and call in fire on that position. I have no way of repositioning them or getting them out of the way until after the scenario begins, and they happen to be carrying a good bit of my 81mm ammo. They're big fat targets and I have to just take whatever comes from because of it. I have to take casualties not because I failed to move my guys, provide cover for them, lay down suppression, or any other mistake. I have to take casualties because the scenario essentially forces me to take them. I don't get to have a say. Just press the Red Button and die. 

I tried the scenario two or three more times with different variations. The results were about the same each time. I was disappointed, but it's something I see time and time again.

Aside from some aforementioned issues with the program itself, which will undoubtedly diminish over time, the game borders on a simulation of combined arms combat, and yet when it comes to scenario design it often seems like the game inevitably gets boiled down into a "gamey" reenactment of history, or worse, a war-movie replay, that basically remove all the agency from the player and force decisions that are tactically unwise and nowhere even remotely realistic and in keeping with the tactical and operational considerations of the type of conflict the game seeks to simulate. Why even move soldiers on a map if all I'm supposed to do is send them to their death without cause?

It's not my intention to necessarily hammer the designer of the Carpiquet campaign, or any campaign. I get that it's a difficult and often thankless job. I only use them as examples in order to pose a question: Why is it necessary for me to take casualties outside of my own errors? What am I supposed to be learning? Why create a simulation that represents the tactical landscape of modern warfare, then limit the tactical options for the player to a binary choice?

 

 

 

Edited by WriterJWA
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Firstly, Razorback Ridge is winnable.  But IIRC I had to replay it a few times, and there is not much worse experience in a leisure game than having to replay a campaign mission multiple times to get through to the next mission.  The Courage & Fortitude campaign is the 2nd hardest campaign I have ever played.  But, it is a great "graduation" campaign for when one considers oneself to be a good player.  I remember that the final mission of the C&F campaign was one of the best CMBN missions I ever played.  So, I would encourage you to persevere...

Some designers, probably I suspect cos they have replayed and tested their own designs so much they know all the tricks, end up making their scenarios more and more difficult until they themselves have a problem winning it - and that makes is very hard on customers who want to a fair chance at winning first time.  

There are other xnt campaigns available.  While I hate giving up on anything - including horrible movies or books - maybe you should simply move on to one of the better ones.

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<-- Author of the Lions of Carpiquet campaign. :)

(Minor spoilers)

The mission you are having a problem with is the one where you have to go after the airport control buildings on the eastern side of the airfield correct? Yes unfortunately you are squeezed in tightly to begin with and need to rush those front line buildings to gain a foothold. The good news is once that line if secure you're reinforcements should be able to move onto the map outside of enemy LOS. (Well unless you knock down those buildings completely). As the map maker I had a major problem with this slice of the southern master map since it butts right up against the northern map and the village. The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time. I didn't have a million and one testers (this isn't a stock campaign so don't have access to the beta tester pool) and those that I did have volunteer from the community didn't raise any problems at the time.

You're actually on the 'doing better than history' track as the Canadians never actually got a shot at these buildings during the historical battle. They were held up too long in the village and hangers on the north side of the airfield. (ie the player loses battle 2 of the campaign). These control buildings were hammered by artillery and air power during the battle (as you get to control in the battle). The reaction to your air power especially should give you a big hint about what you have to go up against once they make their attack runs. You can also make the battle a touch easier if you manage to hammer the buildings during the previous scenario with your own platoon of Shermans... if they aren't tied down by other distractions.

Glad you liked the other scenarios so far. It looks like the experience you had is what I was after when I designed them. Just a shame I you won battle 2, I think the follow up battle (instead of the one you are not fighting) is very fun since you get to use a lot more of 'Hobart's Funnies.' Sadly they only rocked up later in the day so I felt that I couldn't use them in the dawn assault.

I'm heading off on holiday at the end of the week but thanks for playing. Keen for any other insights.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

<-- Author of the Lions of Carpiquet campaign. :)

(Minor spoilers)

The mission you are having a problem with is the one where you have to go after the airport control buildings on the eastern side of the airfield correct? Yes unfortunately you are squeezed in tightly to begin with and need to rush those front line buildings to gain a foothold. The good news is once that line if secure you're reinforcements should be able to move onto the map outside of enemy LOS. (Well unless you knock down those buildings completely). As the map maker I had a major problem with this slice of the southern master map since it butts right up against the northern map and the village. The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time. I didn't have a million and one testers (this isn't a stock campaign so don't have access to the beta tester pool) and those that I did have volunteer from the community didn't raise any problems at the time.

You're actually on the 'doing better than history' track as the Canadians never actually got a shot at these buildings during the historical battle. They were held up too long in the village and hangers on the north side of the airfield. (ie the player loses battle 2 of the campaign). These control buildings were hammered by artillery and air power during the battle (as you get to control in the battle). The reaction to your air power especially should give you a big hint about what you have to go up against once they make their attack runs. You can also make the battle a touch easier if you manage to hammer the buildings during the previous scenario with your own platoon of Shermans... if they aren't tied down by other distractions.

Glad you liked the other scenarios so far. It looks like the experience you had is what I was after when I designed them. Just a shame I you won battle 2, I think the follow up battle (instead of the one you are not fighting) is very fun since you get to use a lot more of 'Hobart's Funnies.' Sadly they only rocked up later in the day so I felt that I couldn't use them in the dawn assault.

I'm heading off on holiday at the end of the week but thanks for playing. Keen for any other insights.

 

 

It's the airfield control building scenario... The one with the AAA guns in town. I tried it again this morning. There is simply no way to avoid taking unnecessary casualties at the start of the scenario. Within minutes (if not seconds) I have snipers and MGs going after my guys, followed by on-map mortars. I had no control over the deployment of the two companies and so I'm forced to take losses for the sake of doing so. It's very frustrating. About the best thing I can think to do is to start it, hit ceasefire, figure out where the spotters and on-map mortars are, the restart it and call down fire on those positions just so I have a change to move up without getting completely raked. That's an entirely gamey, but otherwise is "Press the Red Button and Die" time. 

I'm using your campaign as an example because I happen to be playing it, but also because it shows exactly my issue with much of the scenario designs in much of the CMx2 series. When you say its a shame I won battle two because otherwise I would have more assets in the next one sorta' points to the problem: "scripting" the scenario to historical boundaries. 

I see this a lot in wargaming across the board--be it board games or computer games--this incessant need to script a game to fit with the historical outcome of a battle instead of a game that allows the player the agency to make changes. Your campaign is one of the better ones I've played, along with Montebourg, but I shouldn't be penalized for winning a battle my historical counterparts failed to accomplish. I have a friend who only plays quick battles for this exact reason. He doesn't want to play a game that's bolted to a set of rails with only one or two acceptable outcomes. 

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8 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

 

I'm using your campaign as an example because I happen to be playing it, but also because it shows exactly my issue with much of the scenario designs in much of the CMx2 series. When you say its a shame I won battle two because otherwise I would have more assets in the next one sorta' points to the problem: "scripting" the scenario to historical boundaries. 

I see this a lot in wargaming across the board--be it board games or computer games--this incessant need to script a game to fit with the historical outcome of a battle instead of a game that allows the player the agency to make changes. Your campaign is one of the better ones I've played, along with Montebourg, but I shouldn't be penalized for winning a battle my historical counterparts failed to accomplish. I have a friend who only plays quick battles for this exact reason. He doesn't want to play a game that's bolted to a set of rails with only one or two acceptable outcomes. 

I don't know if I would go so far as to say 'much of the scenario designs in much of the CMx2 series.'  These issues crop up but I don't know that they are prevalent or necessarily common.  I also think that in some cases what you are attributing to 'scripting' may be something else entirely.  One of the first things that a scenario designer has to do is figure out the dimensions of their map as well as what to include and what to exclude.  Therefore the designer must, by necessity, have some idea as to how the scenario is likely to develop, how much room the player needs, and what pieces of terrain or map locations are likely to be relevant or important.  Without that knowledge in advance the scenario designer doesn't know what his map dimensions will be or even where the map needs to be centered.  This decision is a very important one because in many cases the actual lay of the terrain does not necessarily become apparent until the scenario designer has recreated their map in 3D in the game.  I can't tell you how many times I've taken aerial photos, paper maps, or Google Earth locations, put them into the game in 3D and only then realized why the historical course of the battle likely took the path that it did.  Making a map is also not a trivial thing.  This is especially true for larger maps.  A designer may have spent a week or more on a map only to find that perhaps they didn't center it as well as maybe they could have or perhaps they might have misjudged the distance between terrain features and either made the map too small or excluded an important feature.  The game itself makes it difficult to add map to an existing map because it only extends a certain distance in each direction and if you only extended the map one direction and that's the direction you need the extra space you might be stuck without the ability to extend the map any further that direction.  You also need to account for the size of your overlay because the map dimensions in game should map the Google Earth dimensions for your overlay.  Once your map is extended you then need to create a new overlay and of course your overlay dimensions must match your new map dimensions perfectly or it won't work.  In other words, your map dimension and what to include are one of the first things that a designer needs to figure out and if he makes a mistake he may be faced with the choice of either redoing the entire thing or working with what they've got.

Having said all that, I think there are some designers who use time and space in a deliberate effort to make a scenario more difficult than it necessarily could be.  Perhaps some even do attempt to push the player into a script, most likely because it makes designing an AI plan easier if you know exactly what the player is going to do.  So I think that the time and scripting issue is probably more prevalent in the campaigns than they are in the free standing scenarios and perhaps more prevalent in the earlier versions of the game.  I would guess that a designer may also be influenced by the types of games they like to play.  If a designer enjoys playing games like, say first person shooters with well scripted 'levels' and uses that as their inspiration for scenario design then that's what you are going to get more often than not from that designer.  

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On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 6:04 PM, WriterJWA said:

Why is it necessary for me to take casualties outside of my own errors? What am I supposed to be learning? Why create a simulation that represents the tactical landscape of modern warfare, then limit the tactical options for the player to a binary choice?

Honestly - that is the nature of warfare.  It sucks.  Commanding a unit means knowing you are going to ask your men to do something that has a high likelihood of meaning they will die.  You don't have tactical options available to avoid taking casualties most of the time.  This seems to be a recurring request for scenario design- to somehow give the player some sanitized version of war where you can make decisions and avoid casualties outside your mistakes.

Scripting on the other hand, yeah not so much a fan of that, but scripting to me means forcing the player to only be able to succeed in that particular battle by doing things in a specific order.  To me that is different though than being put in a position of having to fight and take casualties that you just have to absorb to meet your objective.  To avoid that means setting a bar on certain types of combat that would mean eliminating them.  As an example I just ran through a CMSF scenario that has a Canadian second echelon unit getting ambushed.  You start the scenario under fire in the open and have to react and overcome the ambush.  There are a few CMSF scenarios like that.  They are a challenge and yeah it sucks to be under fire immediately, but if you don't accept that that can happen then you can't create that scenario. - and it is a fun scenario.

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2 hours ago, sburke said:

Honestly - that is the nature of warfare.  It sucks.  Commanding a unit means knowing you are going to ask your men to do something that has a high likelihood of meaning they will die.  You don't have tactical options available to avoid taking casualties most of the time.  This seems to be a recurring request for scenario design- to somehow give the player some sanitized version of war where you can make decisions and avoid casualties outside your mistakes.

Scripting on the other hand, yeah not so much a fan of that, but scripting to me means forcing the player to only be able to succeed in that particular battle by doing things in a specific order.  To me that is different though than being put in a position of having to fight and take casualties that you just have to absorb to meet your objective.  To avoid that means setting a bar on certain types of combat that would mean eliminating them.  As an example I just ran through a CMSF scenario that has a Canadian second echelon unit getting ambushed.  You start the scenario under fire in the open and have to react and overcome the ambush.  There are a few CMSF scenarios like that.  They are a challenge and yeah it sucks to be under fire immediately, but if you don't accept that that can happen then you can't create that scenario. - and it is a fun scenario.

I think I remember the CMSF scenario you're referring to, and yeah, it's fun. But it's also an understood case-study in that kind of combat. If I'm playing a campaign where casualties have import from one scenario to the next, and scoring is based on how many casualties I take, then I don't think it's remotely appropriate to drop a scenario where my forces are under fire the minute I hit Go. . . . Or rather, I'm forced into a geographical position (or deployment) that makes it impossible for me to avoid incurring them. Asking for that isn't asking for "some sanitized version of war," it's asking for the option to deploy my forces as I see fit as the on-scene operational commander within the limits of the overall objectives and unit boundaries and adjacent operations. 

Not to trot out real-world experiences, but I have been under fire. I have been around officers and senior NCOs as they make decisions that place formations under fire. I can tell you wholeheartedly.... Casualties don't just occur in a vacuum. They happen because unit commanders put their troops into a position where they risk taking casualties in order to accomplish a mission based on their commanders' intent. Otherwise, they attempt to avoid that risk (at least not good ones). Their job is to maximize their assets while minimizing their exposure. When the scenario or campaign designer makes that decision for me as I roleplay as the formation commander, then that is unrealistic, IMO, and needs to be addressed. 

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9 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

Not to trot out real-world experiences, but I have been under fire. I have been around officers and senior NCOs as they make decisions that place formations under fire. I can tell you wholeheartedly.... Casualties don't just occur in a vacuum. They happen because unit commanders put their troops into a position where they risk taking casualties in order to accomplish a mission based on their commanders' intent. Otherwise, they attempt to avoid that risk (at least the good ones). Their job is to maximize their assets while minimizing their exposure.

Not to discredit your experiences, and I think your feedback is well thought out and valuable.

But the war in Iraq was probably as close as the US will ever get to a perfect textbook war where one side had such a crushing dominance in everything from air power, logistics, firepower, and military intelligence that it could realise its tactical doctrine nearly 100 per cent.

I'm not going to say any war is a picnic, but I can't help but wonder if your experiences as a USMC infantryman during those years might have influenced your view on the fog of war and the sometimes chaotic situations that meant more risks were taken - willingly or not - in WW2.

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23 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

It's the airfield control building scenario... The one with the AAA guns in town. I tried it again this morning. There is simply no way to avoid taking unnecessary casualties at the start of the scenario. Within minutes (if not seconds) I have snipers and MGs going after my guys, followed by on-map mortars. I had no control over the deployment of the two companies and so I'm forced to take losses for the sake of doing so. It's very frustrating.

I have not played that scenario, because, well I never play campaigns because I rarely play the AI ;) ...but it sounds to me like the designer wanted to create a react to ambush situation.  If that's the case then, hey as you know, it could happen and would be an interesting scenario where you are forced to control the bleeding.  Every situation will not and should not be as controlled and clean as you like.

I'm glad you have started to participate and I'm enjoying your posts, keep them coming.

Bil

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2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Not to discredit your experiences, and I think your feedback is well thought out and valuable.

But the war in Iraq was probably as close as the US will ever get to a perfect textbook war where one side had such a crushing dominance in everything from air power, logistics, firepower, and military intelligence that it could realise its tactical doctrine nearly 100 per cent.

I'm not going to say any war is a picnic, but I can't help but wonder if your experiences as a USMC infantryman during those years might have influenced your view on the fog of war and the sometimes chaotic situations that meant more risks were taken - willingly or not - in WW2.

Not at all. I completely recognize that the level of casualties and methods of fighting between WW2 and Iraq are different. One was a conventional war, the other was an unconventional war. My issue isn't with the volume of casualties I take, it's how I'm forced to take them. 

If make a decision to push a platoon onto a position that puts them at risk of enemy fire and I take casualties, then fine... I earned that. But if I'm required to take casualties because the scenario designer puts me into a position where I have no alternative, as the commander of the forces on the map, to take casualties at the beginning of a scenario, or by way of limiting the scope of the terrain or time to where I have no choice but to take casualties, then I have an issue.  

This is more of an issue with campaigns, which are designed to reflect continued operations over a period of time. Regarding the Carpiquet scenario I have issue with, the designer said "The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time." If I'm the battalion commander, that's exactly the kind of terrain I'm going to deploy in before launching an attack, or perhaps just behind it in case it happens to be an enemy on-call target. Instead, the battalion is placed a 2-3 hundred meters in front it in full view of the enemy. I didn't get to choose that position, and yet I'm playing their commander, and for that lack of agency I take casualties needlessly. 

I think a lot of this comes down to a simple (and fully understandable) lack of appreciation for what goes on when planning an attack--where and how coordinating measures like phase lines, lines of departure, limits of advances, and boundaries, are set, as well as the proper placement of assembly areas (which are typically just behind the line of departure out of range of enemy small arms). All of these things were used during World War II just as much as they are now. These things don't matter as much at the platoon level, so scenarios at that scale can get by without considering them, but when you reach the company, team, battalion, task force, and brigade level, which is what Carpiquet, Courage & Fortitude, Montebourg, and other campaigns that cover larger operations are trying to represent, then it becomes important. 

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2 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

Instead, the battalion is placed a 2-3 hundred meters in front it in full view of the enemy. I didn't get to choose that position, and yet I'm playing their commander, and for that lack of agency I take casualties needlessly. 

I can't speak about this particular campaign, as I haven't played it, but talking in general terms, would this situation have been more acceptable to you if the scenario briefing explained that some mistake had taken place and that your company had advanced too far ahead? (communications snafu, misreading of maps, running into an unexpected enemy position due to lack of recon, etc.)?

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3 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

Not at all. I completely recognize that the level of casualties and methods of fighting between WW2 and Iraq are different. One was a conventional war, the other was an unconventional war. My issue isn't with the volume of casualties I take, it's how I'm forced to take them. 

If make a decision to push a platoon onto a position that puts them at risk of enemy fire and I take casualties, then fine... I earned that. But if I'm required to take casualties because the scenario designer puts me into a position where I have no alternative, as the commander of the forces on the map, to take casualties at the beginning of a scenario, or by way of limiting the scope of the terrain or time to where I have no choice but to take casualties, then I have an issue.  

This is more of an issue with campaigns, which are designed to reflect continued operations over a period of time. Regarding the Carpiquet scenario I have issue with, the designer said "The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time." If I'm the battalion commander, that's exactly the kind of terrain I'm going to deploy in before launching an attack, or perhaps just behind it in case it happens to be an enemy on-call target. Instead, the battalion is placed a 2-3 hundred meters in front it in full view of the enemy. I didn't get to choose that position, and yet I'm playing their commander, and for that lack of agency I take casualties needlessly. 

I think a lot of this comes down to a simple (and fully understandable) lack of appreciation for what goes on when planning an attack--where and how coordinating measures like phase lines, lines of departure, limits of advances, and boundaries, are set, as well as the proper placement of assembly areas (which are typically just behind the line of departure out of range of enemy small arms). All of these things were used during World War II just as much as they are now. These things don't matter as much at the platoon level, so scenarios at that scale can get by without considering them, but when you reach the company, team, battalion, task force, and brigade level, which is what Carpiquet, Courage & Fortitude, Montebourg, and other campaigns that cover larger operations are trying to represent, then it becomes important. 

It is getting a tad old now... seriously, you are being way too aggressive over one minor instance in one scenario in one campaign... seems to be a bit of an overreaction. 

@Ithikial_AU, please continue building these and I expect this has actually been good for your downloads... even negative publicity is good publicity, eh?  ;) 

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Full disclosure - I’m friends with WriterJWA in real life. I’ve been watching this and his other topic on scenario design for a while. 

I’m also really new to the game, having only played CMFB for a couple months and CMBN for much less. I started out with a few campaigns and scenarios and vacated them, although I plan to once I really master the mechanics of the game and the interface. Quick Battles are a great way to train, and there seems to be more freedom to accomplish your mission however you see fit as the commander. 

In the few campaigns I did play, I did badly. I suspect it’s because I’m so new to the game, but I got the sense that they were *very* difficult. Some are meant to be (Sing Sing comes to mind). In any that I attempted though, I think the clock made most of the difference. There was little time to be careful - to probe, work the flanks, and prep - adding a degree of pressure for which I can’t quite grasp the real life parallel. 

An idea: Would it be possible to make the factor of time something more open ended but with consequences for follow on missions? It’d be something like a penalty or bonus system for subsequent missions. For instance, Col Joe Snuffy lollygags his way through the first town. If he takes more than X hours he misses link up with his reinforcements for the next mission, or he sacrfices an off map arty battery for the next mission because they’ve got another tasking. This would perhaps reflect the real life consequences of time on the battlefield. (Please keep in mind that this novice suggestion without fully grasping what’s possible to accomplish on the scenario design end) 

Anyway...This is one of the most fantastic games I’ve ever played. It is really close to an all-out combined arms simulation. I appreciate the work that’s gone into it 

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5 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Not to discredit your experiences, and I think your feedback is well thought out and valuable.

But the war in Iraq was probably as close as the US will ever get to a perfect textbook war where one side had such a crushing dominance in everything from air power, logistics, firepower, and military intelligence that it could realise its tactical doctrine nearly 100 per cent.

I'm not going to say any war is a picnic, but I can't help but wonder if your experiences as a USMC infantryman during those years might have influenced your view on the fog of war and the sometimes chaotic situations that meant more risks were taken - willingly or not - in WW2.

This may have been true of the initial invasion, but the insurgency was decidedly foggy as hell, especially in its infancy when we hadn’t developed the doctrine to deal with things like IEDs or car bombs. Their asymmetric tactics really forced us to be creative. At that, it could go conventional really quickly. Our preponderance of firepower was mitigated by the fact that we were fighting in populated areas in which we just couldn’t use our assets. The need to minimize civilian casualties actually made for situations in which we had to take a lot more risks - and potentially more casualties. Even routine route clearance was a calculated risk.

But yeah, the insurgents used the fog in their favor. They’d hit lead vehicles first and then have secondary bombs go off when we went to help casualties, for instance. Between that and hiding in plain sight among people we couldn’t (and wouldn’t) target, it was a complicated conflict. 

(Please don’t read any snark at all into that, and apologies for being off the main topic. Merely discussing personal observations that may provide you insights)

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22 minutes ago, Swervin11b said:

But yeah, the insurgents used the fog in their favor. They’d hit lead vehicles first and then have secondary bombs go off when we went to help casualties, for instance. Between that and hiding in plain sight among people we couldn’t (and wouldn’t) target, it was a complicated conflict. 

(Please don’t read any snark at all into that, and apologies for being off the main topic. Merely discussing personal observations that may provide you insights)

absolutely not, real life experience is highly valued here. out of curiosity are you or writerjwa considering getting cmsf2?

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49 minutes ago, Swervin11b said:

An idea: Would it be possible to make the factor of time something more open ended but with consequences for follow on missions? It’d be something like a penalty or bonus system for subsequent missions. For instance, Col Joe Snuffy lollygags his way through the first town. If he takes more than X hours he misses link up with his reinforcements for the next mission, or he sacrfices an off map arty battery for the next mission because they’ve got another tasking. This would perhaps reflect the real life consequences of time on the battlefield. (Please keep in mind that this novice suggestion without fully grasping what’s possible to accomplish on the scenario design end) 

Interesting idea. That could be turned into a feature. I suppose having time based victory conditions could be used as in put to the victory level and that could then be used for campaign branching. I think the implementation would be possible but who knows if BFC would consider it important enough relative to their other plans is and open question.

 

49 minutes ago, Swervin11b said:

Anyway...This is one of the most fantastic games I’ve ever played.

Agreed

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1 hour ago, sburke said:

absolutely not, real life experience is highly valued here. out of curiosity are you or writerjwa considering getting cmsf2?

WriterJWA has SF 1 and enjoys it. He’s told me a lot about it and I’ll probably end up going that route. If SF2 is coming out soon I may wait until then. 

56 minutes ago, IanL said:

Interesting idea. That could be turned into a feature. I suppose having time based victory conditions could be used as in put to the victory level and that could then be used for campaign branching. I think the implementation would be possible but who knows if BFC would consider it important enough relative to their other plans is and open question.

 

Agreed

Oh nice. That’d be really cool. I think it would add another dimension of realism to the simulation as well as eliminating one of the somewhat “gamey” features. Time would still be consequential to victory, but not regulated by the arbitrary nature of a clock. I’m going to read up on scenario design a bit so I can least make more educated suggestions as well as grasp how the mechanics of the game work

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5 hours ago, sburke said:

absolutely not, real life experience is highly valued here. out of curiosity are you or writerjwa considering getting cmsf2?

I'll definitely get it! I own the whole catalog and wore the thread off CMSF1 a few years back. 

Regarding Carpiquet.... I just called a ceasefire after five or six minutes of getting pasted by German mortar and MG fire, ate the Canadian Tactical Loss, and moved on to the next scenario. I hate to do that, but there's no way I'm getting into that town without suffering ridiculous losses, only to then take the town packed as it is....

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Sorry been away from boards packing a suitcase. :)

15 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

This is more of an issue with campaigns, which are designed to reflect continued operations over a period of time. Regarding the Carpiquet scenario I have issue with, the designer said "The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time." If I'm the battalion commander, that's exactly the kind of terrain I'm going to deploy in before launching an attack, or perhaps just behind it in case it happens to be an enemy on-call target. Instead, the battalion is placed a 2-3 hundred meters in front it in full view of the enemy. I didn't get to choose that position, and yet I'm playing their commander, and for that lack of agency I take casualties needlessly. 

I think a lot of this comes down to a simple (and fully understandable) lack of appreciation for what goes on when planning an attack--where and how coordinating measures like phase lines, lines of departure, limits of advances, and boundaries, are set, as well as the proper placement of assembly areas (which are typically just behind the line of departure out of range of enemy small arms). All of these things were used during World War II just as much as they are now. These things don't matter as much at the platoon level, so scenarios at that scale can get by without considering them, but when you reach the company, team, battalion, task force, and brigade level, which is what Carpiquet, Courage & Fortitude, Montebourg, and other campaigns that cover larger operations are trying to represent, then it becomes important. 

Thinking some more on this I think what's compounded this problem was the 4.0 upgrade which seems to have taken a sledgehammer to the morale of infantry units. Bug or not, (see the array of other forum topics on this issue), infantry will break a lot more easily now than before. I built this campaign under Game Engine 3. Changing 'numbers' under the hood can have a big impact on balance for scenarios and campaigns. I remember the 'Blue and the Grey' campaign grabbed my interest when I saw it but it was built under engine 1.0. I downloaded it after 2.0 was released which increased the lethality of MG fire substantially. The balance of the first scenario on Omaha beach simply thrown out the window. I don't have any plans to go back and retest Carpiquet from scratch at this point. Too many other new ideas I want to work on already. The only scenario I've written that I may update is MG Joe's Bridge for CMBN... if CMBN ever gets tank rider functionality.

(Tip - Spoiler)

Your initial two companies should break in at all costs to allow the two follow on companies to exploit. If you win this battle the roles will be reversed and you'll force the Germans to spread out their counter attacks. :)

13 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I can't speak about this particular campaign, as I haven't played it, but talking in general terms, would this situation have been more acceptable to you if the scenario briefing explained that some mistake had taken place and that your company had advanced too far ahead? (communications snafu, misreading of maps, running into an unexpected enemy position due to lack of recon, etc.)?

I can't remember the exact text I wrote at the time but this engagement is a fictional scenario assuming the Operation Windsor plan was running on schedule. WriterJWA is doing better than history in this campaign.

The approach I mapped out for this engagement follows the planned phase two of the 4th of July for Operation Windsor. The Queens Own Rifles Infantry Battalion of the 3rd Canadian infantry division was to move through the other Canadian forces and assault the control buildings of the airfield from the north. To the south and west was the open airfield itself so that was out of the question, while further east was unknown territory held of the Germans. The battalion would of been mightily exposed from all sides if it pushed any of it's forces further east. This is also why it's quite a narrow map as swinging around wasn't really an option. Historically this battalion was brought in to help mop up the SS holdouts in the village and hangers.

11 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

@Ithikial_AU, please continue building these and I expect this has actually been good for your downloads... even negative publicity is good publicity, eh?  ;) 

It's good to get feedback, so hard to find testers and reviews of finished community works at the best of times. As for downloads, well before Bootie updated the Scenario Depot website and removed the download counter on the main page this little campaign was in the top five so I was already pretty stoked. I never could pip GeorgeMC for top spot however. :P 

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