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Soviet Infantry Battalion Attack


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Hello all. I'm playing the first mission of the Soviet campaign and I have no idea how to conduct the attack.

I've read somewhere that Battalions would attack with two companies forward and one reserve. They would rush across the ground, shooting all the way, which assault guns sticking as close as possible to them. 

Another place I read that you perform the typical "echelon attack" - a small screening force, say one company with minor support, followed by the main effort.

Internet documentation is sorely lacking. Does anyone have any references or tips? 

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I think there are some tips on the forum, try to google with the name of the campaign. I forgot it at the moment ;-). I played and finished the campaign eventually, although it took a while. Long time ago though. I remember the first mission, I used the Katyusha around the objectives and advanced on a broad front. Use your MG, SP guns, AT guns, etc to setup firebase. Move your infantry forward. Use your sappers to check for mines where you send vehicles. Use mortars and any firesupport you have on enemy strongpoint. Rinse and repeat.
Maneuver around in numbers, try to overwhelm locally for example use a company to attack instead of a couple of squads. Good luck!

 

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47 minutes ago, Lethaface said:

I think there are some tips on the forum, try to google with the name of the campaign. I forgot it at the moment ;-). I played and finished the campaign eventually, although it took a while. Long time ago though. I remember the first mission, I used the Katyusha around the objectives and advanced on a broad front. Use your MG, SP guns, AT guns, etc to setup firebase. Move your infantry forward. Use your sappers to check for mines where you send vehicles. Use mortars and any firesupport you have on enemy strongpoint. Rinse and repeat.
Maneuver around in numbers, try to overwhelm locally for example use a company to attack instead of a couple of squads. Good luck!

 

Thanks for the reply. I've already beat the mission several times - what I'm really asking is how the Soviets would have done it in real life. I can't find any documentation on it. 

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Am not sure that following strict Soviet doctrine would work that well.  

It's been a long time since I played this but I vaguely recall massing all the Soviets on one flank, with all the armor in position to provide covering fire.   IIRC initially all one has are weakly armored assault AFV's(?) so they are unsuitable to lead any attack.  Sent inf in the lead and as soon as anything shot at them was able to fire back with overwhelming firepower.  

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There have been several good threads on this over the years; searching for the title of hte campaign and the scenario will turn them up. The premise of this scenario is that either the preliminary artillery was largely ineffective, or that you've been knocked off schedule so you're not following closely behind the barrage, which is why all you get is that one rocket mission. Some people have rejected that as unrealistic but it doesn't seem so to me--surely that kind of thing happened sometimes and the battalion commander had to make the best of it.

I''m not an expert on Soviet doctrine but from what I've read, I think you'd see the 3 rifle companies attacking in column, each behind the next, each company with its three platoons on line on a front of about 250m. I do not think the Soviets would keep a whole company in reserve at this level; maybe a platoon if that. All the battalion MGs and probably the SU-76s would support from the start line, then move up. Mortars would be on call through flares or a human chain, which is simulated in CM by the slow call times (I learned the human chain method in reply to a question I posted here a year or two ago--to me the key is that it's not unrealistic or gamey to have Soviet lower HQs call in fire missions, despite the lack of radios). The lead company would advance until enemy fire is so intense they can't move forward any more; then they'd go to ground and return fire while the next company comes up and overruns the resistance. Casualties would be heavy, but a company backed by multiple MGs and SU-76s on a narrow front can put out a lot of firepower. The key is not to get pinned down by flanking fire and to move fast enough to avoid the artillery. When I've tried it this way (with some house rules to limit myself for better roleplaying) I find it works but most of my losses come from artillery hitting my second or third echelon.

 

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7 hours ago, General Liederkranz said:

I''m not an expert on Soviet doctrine but from what I've read, I think you'd see the 3 rifle companies attacking in column, each behind the next, each company with its three platoons on line on a front of about 250m. I do not think the Soviets would keep a whole company in reserve at this level; maybe a platoon if that. All the battalion MGs and probably the SU-76s would support from the start line, then move up.

If this is the river crossing scenario of Hammer's Flank, that was basically how I played it. The briefing tells you not to worry overly much about losses.

In terms of doctrine, I figure the Soviet forces guide that - they are effective at short range, so I played aggressively to get them within close range, but it was certainly not a human wave attack.

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Well, IRL Germans had solid trench line, occupied by minor forces. They tried to avoid massive artillery strike on their main forces and used to set them back. Soviets knew this and tried to assault 1-st trench line by surprise. In the game there is no solid trench line and player didn't get divisional artillery, looks like battle in the depth of defense. I would play like usual, slow advance, spot MG nests, call mortar fire on them. Attack on broad front, clear flanks, be aware of mines and AT guns. Assault guns should be 50m behind infantry line according to regulations.

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Guess I'll just attack with company waves. The terrain doesn't allow enough frontage for a two-company or battalion wave attack, nor can I outflank the positions properly because of the enormous swamps blocking everything. I wonder if the scenario designer is still around? 

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Generally one never wants to attack across the max frontage as all that does is spread the attackers thinly against all the defenders.  better to overwhelm in one sector.  That may normally be more of a strategic or operational decision. but in the game it works well as a tactic.

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On 6/10/2020 at 10:54 PM, General Liederkranz said:

There have been several good threads on this over the years; searching for the title of hte campaign and the scenario will turn them up. The premise of this scenario is that either the preliminary artillery was largely ineffective, or that you've been knocked off schedule so you're not following closely behind the barrage, which is why all you get is that one rocket mission. Some people have rejected that as unrealistic but it doesn't seem so to me--surely that kind of thing happened sometimes and the battalion commander had to make the best of it.

It's not really that's it's unrealistic, it's that it's a bad scenario. It's the player's first go with the Red Army in an assault and the scenario is designed to thwart you or make you play out of doctrine. It would've made sense for a final scenario or independent scenario but it's oddly placed in the intro of Hammer's Flank. 

The 3rd mission, the attack on Osintorf however, again depicts an attack on an unmolested German defense of the town which has every advantage over the player yet again. There is a dearth of suitable terrain to maneuver with and the SU-76s do not possess the firepower necessary to overpower any section of the defense on their own. Both scenarios place way too much reliance on the SU-76, which the designer seems to have thought of as a tank and a major advantage to the player somehow. It's neither under the circumstances. 

On 6/11/2020 at 3:14 PM, DMS said:

Well, IRL Germans had solid trench line, occupied by minor forces. They tried to avoid massive artillery strike on their main forces and used to set them back. Soviets knew this and tried to assault 1-st trench line by surprise. In the game there is no solid trench line and player didn't get divisional artillery, looks like battle in the depth of defense. I would play like usual, slow advance, spot MG nests, call mortar fire on them. Attack on broad front, clear flanks, be aware of mines and AT guns. Assault guns should be 50m behind infantry line according to regulations.

This is out-of-doctrine play for the Red Army though, and it's too easily thwarted by the depth and headcounts of the German defense on their side of the river. The player only gets two batteries of mortars it's just completely inadequate. That some guys get lucky occasionally and solve Hammer's Flank without racking up a huge body count does nothing for me. 90% of the time you will not be able to achieve this without save scumming ie: cheating.

My advice on Hammer's Flank is that it's an unfortunate bad campaign that slid through the cracks of quality control and needs to be redesigned at numerous points. It should not be played base. Grab the campaign unpacker, lay out the scenarios in the editor and tailor them. 

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On 6/10/2020 at 4:47 PM, Aured said:

I've read somewhere that Battalions would attack with two companies forward and one reserve. They would rush across the ground, shooting all the way, which assault guns sticking as close as possible to them. 

Understandings of the "Way of the Red Army" are clouded by decades of Cold War recalcitrance by the Russian Archives in sharing information and experience from the war and lack of English accounts in the west except those written by the Germans. German accounts have plenty of problems though racism being among them.

Two up and one back or its inverse of one up and two back is a US Army concept. That's how Regimental or Battalion Officers thought out attacks in the US Army. A typical attack by a Rifle Division troop or Guards Rifles would be straight on. All three Companies in line with each other pushing through the same narrow slice of map, ignoring the rest of the map and in doing so making the defense of those sections irrelevant. This is why Hammer's Flank is badly designed because the 2nd objective-line is an occupy line and it's a huge slice of the map you have to totally clean the Germans out of the objective area. In fact all 3 objective lines should be touch objectives, completed on reach. Red Army commanders don't care about the parts of the German defense not in their way.

Through this description it's also easy to misunderstand what actually happened in an attack. Nobody in the Red Army was honestly expected to just suicide rush an enemy defense, Penal Battalions maybe but they were convicts. It's a simple fire-and-advance maneuver mostly unlike western notions of fix-and-flank. You put the German defenders into a bind by forcing them to either open fire too soon or too late. This requires you to have more firepower than the Germans, not everywhere but definitely the slice of map you plan on advancing your force through. If the Germans try to shoot your men down as assault teams advance, they should face the wrath of God for doing so. You're doing well if your men can get within grenade range of the Germans without having suffered many casualties or much wear for it. 

The trouble with Hammer's Flank is that the base support you need to conduct the attack doesn't materialize. The defense has more firepower than you everywhere and they're too dense to simply penetrate at any point via maneuver. If the attack had been intended merely as a feint than the objectives should be changed entirely. 

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I recently played through the first three battles of this campaign and I am working through the fourth battle at the moment. The first and third battles are tough principally from a micro management and attention to detail point of view. I also found spotting very difficult.

The campaign is playable. The enemy forces are not too strong. You can achieve the best victory results as long as you are willing to micro manage your forces. If anyone wants/needs a write up of how to win the first and/or third battle then let me know.

EDIT: Cant help with how to conduct a historical attack by a Soviet battalion. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hardradi
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42 minutes ago, Hardradi said:

The campaign is playable. The enemy forces are not too strong.

The German defense headcount in Crossing the River is just under 300ish men to your 600. This is an immediate and open violation of the well understood precept of base 3:1 odds against a identical defender in the post Flanders world of modern war. 

Attack check either on the grounds of game of history should fail here, but ok let's be unreasonable and just say that we're going to force the attack because Stalin or because incompetence or because miscommunication etc.

The defenders are dug in, extensively. Most of their command staff and a good number of their troops are in bunkers with over-head cover immune to mortars and difficult for the SU-76s to see or hit beyond around 300 meters or so. The forests are extensively and comprehensively rigged with mines, bombs, barbed wire all of which is under the over watch of local German infantry who have snipers and machine guns able to cross-fire over these defenses. All told these features really abstract the defender to a 1:1 match against your force thanks to the enormous preparation of his untouched defense. 

Attack check should fail here. But let's keep being unreasonable and push ahead because we're really going for that Hero of the Soviet Union medal and are totally unscrupulous and ruthless in our desire to look nice in post-war photos in our Moscow flat.

The defenders have twice as much artillery support as you do by weight of fire alone, it's pre-sighted onto TRPs all of which totally cover the valid terrain movement tiles. You literally cannot move a Company, in open sprint, through these tiles ignoring counter fire from the defenders in time to avoid having them caught in a bombardment. Moving them through the forest causes them to leave behind the SU-76s, sacrificing the only tool of your heavy firepower other than than the 6 82mm mortars which are literally useless against the Germans in bunkers throughout the map. 

Attack check should again fail here. You're not scared of being assassinated by your men though because you're the player and you're an omniscient god playing a video game so who cares what SimpleSimon and countless others on the forum have advised about play  of this scenario doing nothing to obscure how openly ridiculous it is on grounds of game design. You want to play through it.

Many sections of the map are arbitrary non-movement areas. The game literally does not allow you to move men through them because screw it, forcing you to confront the defender-plan via a painstakingly slow surgical deconstruction that we can succeed at without save-scumming 100% of the time (just 93% of the time) thanks to other ways the game allows us to cheat via player super-awareness and omniscience and the TARGET HEAVY/LIGHT commands which take effect instantaneously and precisely.

By this point we're not playing for any kind of historic credibility here it's just solving the scenario for the sake of solving the scenario, completely gaming it, completely cheesing it right?  This is the point where if your perspective on the game is just different from mine that's totally valid you can play this way if you want.  But I just want to ask....

Why are you playing Combat Mission? 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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Just now, SimpleSimon said:

Why are you playing Combat Mission? 

I like playing war games and this is the best tactical 3D game I have found so far. Sure it has flaws like most things and sometimes it frustrates me.

I have reviewed my battle results screen. The odds are 3:1 (649men:200men) in this battle, in the attackers favour. Plus they have armour support.

Your first paragraph above is not factually correct. This undermines your whole view. I can easily pick apart many of your other points from a GAME perspective but I will leave it there.

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1 hour ago, Hardradi said:

I like playing war games and this is the best tactical 3D game I have found so far. Sure it has flaws like most things and sometimes it frustrates me.

But by your own admission you're not playing for these reasons. There's nothing tactical about the way the way you play thus the whole notion of it being a war game to you is inconsistent with you just saying you want to play it for the sake of playing it. Correct me? 

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I have reviewed my battle results screen. The odds are 3:1 (649men:200men) in this battle, in the attackers favour. Plus they have armour support.

Wow ya got me i'm off by 100 helmets. Never mind all the other points I tried to highlight here or you just flat out not reading my post about the SU-76's not being proper armor support. Christ sake there's more anti-tank mines and obstacles on the map than the player has SU-76s! Ain't even got to the 3 entrenched Pak 40s in mutually supporting positions yet. I'm surprised your tactical sensibility isn't picking up on the problem with all of this. 

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Your first paragraph above is not factually correct. This undermines your whole view. I can easily pick apart many of your other points from a GAME perspective but I will leave it there.

Well that's a shame because now i'll have to just expound on my own question without your input. Think i'd rather not have it you won't read any of my post though. Otherwise whats the point of "haha you see I could deconstruct your point line by line but...I shant!" lmao whatever. Calm down before posting in the future.  

Hammer's Flank cannot be won in a single save, first time playthrough. Want to play through it to play through it? Fine. I personally don't understand why you don't just go play Sudoku and save the money. It's been had out already that it's historic credibility is zero and the designer admitted that his research was inadequate. So if the only reasoning left to justify a play through is that Crossing the River is an attack gone bad and an example of an event beyond the player's control you can surely play it on those grounds but...why bother? 

But Crossing the River actually wants you to win. It wants you to achieve its extremely over ambitious victory condition or it viciously fails you. Which means the designer expects you to solve it and there's no way you can do so without cheating. It's badly designed. That it's "playable" is completely tangential. There will never be a scenario in any of the games that can't be won absolutely flawlessly with zero player casualties as long as the player is willing to discard every possible notion of realism or simulation. But a scenario designed around forcing you to do this is a waste of your time, or mischievous, and shouldn't be in a campaign. Yeah it's playable but...who wants to play this way? 

Some people say it's winnable in a single save first time playthrough and that they've done it. Also i'm a Scottish Lord.   

 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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I have played "Hammer's Flank" and well recall the challenges and frustrations of the first river crossing mission.  I agree that the SU76's seem very inappropriate as assault AFV's.  One needs to consider and use them as nothing more than mobile guns that have to be babied and put in keyhole positions so as to safely provide point HE support.  

However, by massing the Russian forces against a section of the enemy flank - I recall massing on the left using the light bridge - one can win this scenario with much less difficulty than for example many of the infamous "Courage and Fortitude" campaign missions in CMBN.  I have played many missions in CM games where I had to save and restart several times, but "River Crossing" was not one of them.  Perseverance is called for...  In many hard scenarios, one may think one is doing badly, but though courage and fortitude one should push on despite the pain as the enemy may well be suffering more than you are.

Edited by Erwin
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I did play and finish the campaign, years ago. With a lot of casualties, but I enjoyed it. 

A bit in the middle about the subject. How realistic CM is, it will still never be real. Hourlong barrages aren't fun to play. Also, some challenge for the player is needed; after all it's still entertainment. The AI needs some help providing a challenge, which won't always feel natural. 

Also. war doesn't always goes by the book. So I can understand if a scenario models a specific part of the front/attack where most artillery was simply not available and or defenses stronger than anticipated. FUBAR . In reality in Bagration (and other offensivse) there also have been attacks which pressed on while taking very heavy losses. Apart from the (locally) failed attacks, renewed later or just bypassed. 
The scenario depicts a challenge to overcome dug in defenses by attacking with quite massive infantry formations, with limited support. I took about a hundred casualties IIRC. I tried it a couple of times. The river battle was similar, and perhaps bloodier. 
I don't think those are badly designed, however felt that perhaps a bit much focus was given to these types of scenarios. Making the campaign quite the grind to finish, while many 'toys' didn't feature. 

This is in contrast with, for example, the first mission of the Russian campaign in CMBS. It's more a full scale attack 'here's all the toys' type of mission, which I think is a nice way to start of a campaign. 

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49 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I haven't played this scenario, so can't comment on it, but in general I'll say that there's always a dark temptation for a scenario designer to start thinking he is in a competition against the player, and that he wants to win. That doesn't lead to an enjoyable experience for the player.

If you are not lucky enough to have a decent amount of playtesters (willing to provide feedback)...getting the difficulty level 'right' is one of the more difficult tasks when it comes to designing a scenario...

Unfortunatelly many scenario designers do not have these helping hands i belive...they are on their own...making difficultylevel somewhat tricky to get right...

That should not be a problem with a stock scenario though...

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2 minutes ago, RepsolCBR said:

If you are not lucky enough to have a decent amount of playtesters (willing to provide feedback)...getting the difficulty level 'right' is one of the more difficult tasks when it comes to designing a scenario...

Unfortunatelly many scenario designers do not have these helping hands i belive...they are on their own...making difficultylevel somewhat tricky to get right...

Yes, agreed. I had the same problem several times.

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I played that campaign a long time ago and really enjoyed it. The river crossing was the mission I enjoyed the most and the one that sticks in my memory.

It was engaging - there was plenty to do, with mines and interlocking defences to pick apart - but I didn't find it that hard. The Soviets have plenty of troops, plenty of time, and you just keep piling it on (carefully of course) until the German force crumbles. As @Erwin said, you need to choose a flank (I went down the left flank first, but sent a smaller force down the right flank, then reinforced it from the left when I had broken through there).

I found it historically educative, engaging, challenging but achievable, and fun. Admittedly this was quite a few years ago - perhaps subsequent updates to the game engine have upset the balance...

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I agree with @Hardradi and @Freyberg. A steamroller attack on a 250m front, focusing on presenting overwhelming firepower and moving fast enough to keep ahead of the German artillery, works. This does require lots of micromanagement and Target Light commands, but to me that's entirely realistic--platoons are going to have standing orders to lay down cover fire on suspected enemy positions, not just to shoot at identified enemies. The game engine can't do this so the player has to. The force ratios are fine, especially since if you attack on a narrow front you can avoid engaging some of the Germans from the front, or at all.

I flubbed up my first play through, mainly because I was new to CM and should not have started with this scenario. The one thing I think could have been improved--and the one place where I benefited, but realistically, from having played it before--is that there should be some pre-battle intelligence for the Soviet player. They historically would have this and it really helps in picking a general target area for the rockets.

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