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Wehrmacht resilience vs. Dogface nervousness


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I’m pretty new to the game, so I play mainly Quick Battles so I can get the hang of it before moving on to the more challenging scenarios. I tried a few out and knew I needed to really know the game well to be able to succeed. 

I go with Basic Training difficulty level. I usually set the Germans (regular Wehrmacht) at “regular,” “fit,” “normal” motivation, and 0 leadership. For Allied I’ll go “veteran,” “fit,” “high” motivation, and +1 leadership. Again, just to learn. I’m not giving my guys much of an edge, and I ensure the Germans are well armed. I usually do companies opposing one another with supporting arms.

My observation thus far is that the Germans are some crack troops, and the Americans can be really skittish. 

It’s proven very difficult to get the Germans suppressed, for instance. I had a game earlier where a .50 cal belted suppressing fire on a Sturm squad for a good five minutes - accurate enough to inflict one casualty - but the unit was still not suppressed. Just an example. I’m not a great player yet, but when firing at a squad from two directions well within effective range, they should keep their heads down. 

Conversely, the Americans tend to freak out when they take popshots and panic immediately when taking indirect fire, so much so that I can almost write them off once the first enemy spotting round comes close. 

Are the Germans designed to be really tough? did play against SS once, who were insane,  but Wehrmacht seems to be pretty elite, too. Are the Americans inherently weaker?

I’d be interested to hear the insights of more seasoned players. 

Anyway...I’ve been looking for a game like this since I was a kid spending Saturday mornings with Close Combat IV.  Thanks! Keep up the good work. I got CMFB and CMBN so far, and will no doubt end up with other titles 

Edited by Swervin11b
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to expand on Wicky's more … succinct answer.  :P  Battlefront does not set any sides troops to be superior.  Those settings you or the scenario designer would use in the editor if you want to create a unit with more or less experience or morale.  The goal of the game is to try and reflect as much as possible what equipment and doctrine would reflect.  The Americans for example have some advantages in firepower with the Garand versus the Mauser, but the German placement of MGs into squads can completely alter that firepower balance.  Americans have better comms and therefore better C2 and faster call times for arty etc etc.

That .50 firing for 5 minutes should have an impact. (actually a few impacts - I am surprised that there is only one casualty.)  I'd have to see the game in question to give better feedback.

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There are no 'national modifiers' in the game but a scenario designer might chose to make one side fanatic elites and the other side green with low motivation (even scenario designers can fall prey to the Übermensch myth). Or, if both sides are picked equal one side only will facing the dreaded MG42 or the MP40 smg during close-in battles. Or both side may be equal but one side is out of contact with his command or his leader has unusually high or low leadership skills.

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Thanks for answering this. I was curious. Really good to know about the artillery panic too.

Maybe the 50 cal having an effect on the target’s morale even while not actively pinging the suppression indicator. I think the suppression indicator is what keeps them from firing though, at least until they reach a certain point on morale. 

Kind of a related question, when I modify the leadership level during unit purchase, say +1, does this affect the average leadership level of subordinate leaders within the larger formation? There were quite a few -2 squad leaders out there. One platoon leader was a 0 and all his squad leaders were 0 or -2. I’m assuming there would be less of those were it +2.

Very, very glad to hear that there is no national modifier, though. Thanks 

 

Edited by Swervin11b
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There are no Advanced Squad Leader-style "national modifiers".

Soft factors and equipment can, however, make a huge difference in quality - in Combat Mission Shock Force, even with the same soft factors the Syrian army is not on the same level as the US, simply through available arms and armour. A WW2 US platoon can put out a much higher volume of fire than an Italian one, so would typically win a one-on-one firefight.

The mechanics behind soft factors are something of a black box, but @Josey Wales has done some excellent work in puzzling them out.

http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforum/threads/the-relationship-between-soft-factors-morale-fatigue.26498/

In his findings, the leadership value only affects the squad themselves, and doesn't "filter down" at all.

There is still going to be a leadership effect, albeit sideways - if the subordinate squads have a valid C2 link, then they will have some defence against suppression, etc. Since the HQ unit being suppressed will knock out that C2 link, then higher leadership HQ units will stay un-suppressed longer, helping the platoon as a whole.
 

In terms of how C2 works in the game (surprisingly sophisticated), MOS:96B2P has an excellent guide here:
 

 

Edited by domfluff
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Domfluff, these are extremely helpful posts. I agree that it’s a sophisticated model, as are the tests that revealed the information. 

One can easily see that maintaining C2 links is can be a deciding factor. 

It looks as though the suppression bars aren’t quite as important as the overall morale of the unit being suppressed, except in terms of their being “softened up” by suppressive fire. So the longer those bars remain, the worse their morale will be. It’s kind of common sense but really good to see proven by testing 

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Each time the bars fill up, the unit will drop a morale state. This will bounce back over time (if the shooting stops). There's also a permanent modifier of some kind with losses, which will limit what the peak of morale can be.

Since the rate the bars fill up is determined by the soft factors, they're more of a relative indicator than an absolute one - it's more important to know that the unit is "shaken" than it's got three yellow bars filled in. Some of this relative/temporary effect can be blindingly obvious - if a squad is cowering under mg fire, then it's pretty clear what's going on.

Based on both of the above, I've been a lot more mobile with my HQ units of late. They're frequently conducting a leader's recon, or running between squads to shore up C2 or share spotting contacts with the teams that need it. One nice consequence of the leadership modifier on the HQ unit is that a high leadership HQ can more effectively lead from the front, whereas a bad one should be kept back and out of danger.

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I recall seeing a mention that badly shaken units never entirely get over it. If left to recover and their morale comes back they will still remain rather 'brittle'. After each shock they're more susceptible to panic the next time.

Edited by MikeyD
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Both @MOS:96B2P work on C2

 

and @Josey Wales work on the soft factors 

http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforum/threads/the-relationship-between-soft-factors-morale-fatigue.26498/

have made a massive impact on a/ how I play, adding more immersion (I use my own rules that units cannot react to something they do not know about - hence C2 becomes really, really important b/ knowing how the soft factors work is really useful for modelling OOBs for scenarios to try to recreate how a unit behaved (in itself impossible to truly reflect reality but an interesting aspect to seek to model).

FWIW my SOP for 'spare' HQ units is to keep em on the map and cross attach them to other units to help disseminate info across my units C2 network. This works pretty well and in the absence of being able to task organise units in the editor is the best compromise I have come across. And it stops you using them as disposable recce units...

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Yes, in single player I try to only react to contacts known to a unit, or pre-planned area fire ("2nd platoon will crest the hill and put fires onto the buildings opposite"), so this is vital. I wish there was a way of enforcing this in-game, but there are some deep problems with doing that. We have far too much available information in Combat Mission.

There's no way to enforce that for multiplayer of course, so I don't bother. It's still useful to share spotting contacts and the like, so I will, but I don't let the lack of them hold me back.

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On 12/5/2018 at 2:58 PM, domfluff said:

Each time the bars fill up, the unit will drop a morale state. This will bounce back over time (if the shooting stops). There's also a permanent modifier of some kind with losses, which will limit what the peak of morale can be.

This is new to me. So what you're saying is that going back and forth between 0 and 100 pct suppression is what wears down the morale state? How about being under continuous fire?

On 12/6/2018 at 10:25 AM, domfluff said:

Yeah, there's a flag for "Brittle" (which is visible in the UI) - if you're broken (with no casualties) then this is switched on. Brittle troops can still return to 100% morale (they'll show "OK), but will lose morale much faster from then on, so each of the stages will fill up faster.

Also this is new to me. Do you mean the "broken" state? I don't think they ever return to OK condition.

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From the manual:
 

Quote

Suppression Indicator - an inverted color-coded pyramid indicates the amount of suppression the selected unit is enduring at any given time. It also gives the player a rough measurement of the total volume of incoming enemy fire. As the color moves from green to yellow to orange to red, the amount of suppression increases, and the unit will be more likely to go to ground, panic, or break. When units are pinned (i.e. they can shoot but do not respond to movement orders), or panicked, routed or broken, that status is shown in the suppression indicator display as well. A small dot to the right of the suppression indicator will light up if the unit is Brittle.


As the suppression indicator fills up, the morale states drop. If they take no losses, and the incoming fire stops, the suppression bars will empty and the unit will return to normal.

If the unit gets Broken (by a large volume of ineffective fire, over a period of time), then they'll eventually return to 100%, but with the "brittle" flag set, making it easier for them to be suppressed in future.

If the unit sustains any losses, this will put a permanent cap on their morale level. They will be unable to return to 100% morale (what words it actually displays will vary, since a lot of the CM mechanics are occluded).


Josey Wales gives these concepts the terms "Combat Shock" for the temporary effects and "Combat Stress" for the permanent ones, which are quite useful.

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23 minutes ago, domfluff said:

In practice it's often going to be the same thing - it's mostly only going to be obvious if the unit comes under a lot of fire, but doesn't take any casualties.

So basically you can destroy enemy morale (or at least degrade it) simply by area fire, without causing casualties. I've never noticed this happening, but then again in all normal battles you do take casualties, so the suppression effect would just blend into the situation.

Have you ever tested this out? I guess it's difficult to set up a situation where you can keep area firing on a unit and make sure they don't take any casualties.

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5 hours ago, domfluff said:

If the unit gets Broken (by a large volume of ineffective fire, over a period of time),   

Interesting information, articulated very well.  The above quote is one thing I'm not sure I understand.  I always thought (maybe assumed?) that a unit had to take casualties before it could become broken.  I didn't think suppression alone could result in a unit being broken.  I admit I often struggle with the  "Combat Shock" vs "Combat Stress" and probably confuse them sometimes.  I went back and looked at some notes but didn't find a definitive answer so maybe it was my assumption..................... well lets just ask the dude himself.  @Josey Wales what is your opinion?  Can a unit be broken from only suppression?   

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It's a hard thing to test directly, but as far as I'm aware the morale status is linear:

Ok > Cautious > Nervous > Rattled > Shaken >  Panic > Broken

You can definitely at least get down to Panic from a lot of suppression, which is even mentioned in the manual.


("Pinned" is an additional status on top of the above, caused by having a full suppression bar, rather than being part of the linear chain of morale.)


The manual suggests that Shaken and Panic states are temporary ones, and the troops revert to a stable state afterwards - be that up or down the chain. The manual does suggest that you need casualties to be Broken, but that would mean that there is a lower bound effect on Combat Stress as well, which would be interesting.

 

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14 minutes ago, domfluff said:

The manual suggests that Shaken and Panic states are temporary ones, and the troops revert to a stable state afterwards - be that up or down the chain. The manual does suggest that you need casualties to be Broken, but that would mean that there is a lower bound effect on Combat Stress as well, which would be interesting.  

Yes, interesting ........... I have the following in my notes and maybe this plays a role. 

When a team/vehicle takes casualties other teams/vehicles/squads in the same platoon may have their morale negatively affected.  The other teams/vehicles/squads don’t have to be in C2 or line of sight of the team taking casualties to be negatively affected.

At the end of a battle I have seen broken fire teams that did not have casualties.  However other teams in the same platoon (maybe even same squad) did have casualties.  So I thought that was why they were broken without casualties in the team.  

Josey is probably off working a job, earning money and taking care of RL while we are discussing and trying to figure out the important issues of the day................. maybe when he is done goofing off for the day he will stop by ...... :lol: ;).   

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1 hour ago, domfluff said:

It's a hard thing to test directly, but as far as I'm aware the morale status is linear:

Ok > Cautious > Nervous > Rattled > Shaken >  Panic > Broken

Note quite. The morale status is linear but the shaken and panic states are temporary and can happen from any state once the unit is done being shaken or panicked they go back to a - usually worse - morale state:

OK -> Cautious -> Nervious -> Rattled -> Broken

         \           /                   /

      Shaken              Shaken

               \                    /

                     Panic

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8 minutes ago, IanL said:

Note quite. The morale status is linear but the shaken and panic states are temporary and can happen from any state once the unit is done being shaken or panicked they go back to a - usually worse - morale state:

OK -> Cautious -> Nervious -> Rattled -> Broken

         \           /                   /

      Shaken              Shaken

               \                    /

                     Panic

Thanks Ian, that's helpful.

I guess I never paid much attention to these or how they occur in the past, and I just accepted their presence on the field without really penetrating into the how or why. 

Bil

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