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Looking for Afghanistan scenario ideas where it is a human playing Taliban vs the AI


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I have always wanted to do a scenario like this where you play the Taliban side versus the AI and in the first scenario I released, Afghan Roulette, that's what I wanted to do originally. But it wasn't quite working as I intended so in the end I switched it around to a more traditional format. I got a new one in the works that takes place near Musa Qala where it might work but it is not that easy due to the nature of insurgency warfare and the limitations of the editor.

Of course there is the classic patrol ambush but ideally, you'd need to have the computer just stroll around at a leisurely pace in move mode until someone opens fire and then they'd activate and switch to fight mode but that's not how the engine works. There might still be a workaround but I haven't found a satisfying way.

Then you got the FOB or PB attack or even a convoy attack and I got a couple of ideas about that too but not sure it would be super interesting. The fact that it would be lopsided is not what bothers me. You can always tweak the victory conditions to make it work. But I want it to sort of vaguely capture the nature of the fighting, i.e. not feel like wwii and not be a bloodbath.

Anyway I am looking for ideas.  Actual engagements preferably but more generic ideas would work too, doesn't really matter. If you guys can think of something cool and interesting please let me know. I am not guaranteeing I'll do it but I just thought I'd ask for suggestions.

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I dunno how much this applies to Afghanistan, but reading Che Guevara's book on guerilla warfare made me think it would be cool to see some of the tactics he describes played out in a CM scenario. For him, weapons and ammo were precious and could not be expended lightly, so a lot of actions during the revolution were about swiftly attacking small, weak units for the sole reason of capturing their weapons and ammo. In a war like that, usually your sole source of weapons and ammo is from the enemy. Eventually, as their guerilla bands got bigger and stronger, they would graduate to trying to find and seize larger weapons caches from the enemy. Men were also precious and casualties were to be avoided at all costs, since the guerilla forces were always much smaller than the state security forces.

They would hit enemy patrols or outposts fast and hard, take as much of their stuff as they could and then get out before enemy reinforcements showed up down the road. Then they would attack their reinforcement columns in these very long harassment firefights. The idea was not to simply hit and run, but to keep the enemy constantly engaged in a low-intensity firefight where they could never rest or relax. They would have several very small bands of guerillas (like no more than a dozen men each) attacking the enemy column with harassing fire from all four compass points at the same time. If the enemy column started attacking to the west for example, the guerilla team in the west would give way and fall back, while the other three guerilla teams in the other three directions would start advancing in order to constantly keep in contact. If the enemy suddenly turned north to attack the northern team, then the northern team would then fall back, and the other three teams would again start advancing again. These actions could go on for hours or days, and the enemy column could get terribly demoralized from the constant stress.

I've never seen anything like that in CM before. Perhaps you could make a scenario where large numbers of AI government troops have to advance across the map to an exit zone, or maybe to a specific area (like to reinforce a base that you have under siege), and your guerillas have to interdict them en route. Your small bands of guerillas don't have enough combat power or ammo to attack and destroy them completely, but you get lots of points for causing casualties. Perhaps your guerillas can even have their own exit zone that they have to get to before the entire map is overrun by state security forces. You could have spies all over the map to warn you of their approach, and could coordinate ambushes with mines and IEDs. Then you fall back only to hit them again later. You could throw in a suicide bomber too for fun.

It seems like something like that would be doable in CM, but unfortunately I have no idea how to design scenarios. You could make a whole campaign with that kind of material. A campaign based around controlling a guerrilla band would be awesome IMO. The campaign could start small, where you only have a tiny, weak handful of men trying to scrounge for weapons and ammo, but your group gets bigger and bigger with each scenario in the campaign. With each success, you get more and more recruits, and more and more captured material. Eventually your group gets big enough that you are putting entire bases under siege, and the final stages of the campaign are when you graduate upward to conventional warfare, engaging the government forces in open battle in the streets with your own captured tanks and other vehicles until the campaign ends when you overthrow the state itself.

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I just thought of another idea relating to Afghanistan in particular. Try taking a look at the paper "Taking Back the Infantry Half Kilometer" by Army Maj. Thomas Ehrhart. There is a summary and link in the article here:

https://www.military.com/defensetech/2010/03/01/taking-back-the-infantry-half-kilometer

Basically it talks about how useless US infantry could be a lot of the time in Afghanistan due to the long engagement ranges that the Taliban preferred. American training, doctrine, and weapons were optimized for 300 meter engagement ranges on flat, level ground, but the Taliban liked to stay much farther away than that. They liked to sit at stand-off ranges on distant mountaintops and ridgelines and hammer the Americans with mortars and MMGs while the Americans could not do much more than sit helplessly down in the valleys until air support showed up.

From the paper: “In the table of organization for a light infantry company only the six –M240B 7.62-mm machineguns, two- 60-mm mortars and nine designated marksman armed with either 7.62-mm M14 rifles or accurized 5.56-mm M16A4’s rifles are able to effectively engage the enemy. These weapons systems represent 19 percent of the company’s firepower. This means that 81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight. This is unacceptable.”

US infantry were also overburdened with heavy equipment and ammo and were not well suited for the altitude, while the Taliban were lightly-equipped and could get around the rugged terrain easily.

 So if you were to make a CM scenario as Taliban vs US Army AI, you would probably want to take that into account. You could design a scenario where your Taliban guerrillas start shooting up American Humvees or trucks or a FOB down in a valley from like 1000+ meters away or something. The US AI would then send a bunch of infantry up into the hills to clear you out. Your objective would be to harass them and cause casualties while continuously falling back and staying outside of their engagement range. Perhaps you could even give the US a penalty to their fatigue levels in order to represent the altitude. You would want to cause as many casualties as possible while evading the US air support and then exit the map at the end or something. That sounds like it would be really fun honestly.

I should learn how to use the editor...

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@Zveroboy1 You might be better off trying a mini campaign with all of those elements.  I think conceptually it is certainly doable so long as you get the VPs right.  Make your FOB/PB a company-sized group and the centrepiece of the whole thing.  The blue force mission would be to dominate the ground within the AO (i.e., a pretty standard COIN mission) and the insurgent's task is to contest that domination.  Make that blue force part of the Core Unit File (CUF) and track it from battle to battle.  That could set up a couple of battles in villages on the outskirts of the AO where your small groups of Taliban kill a few dudes here and there.  Have a couple of resupply convoy missions in which a non-core Blue convoy schleps up to the FOB/PB and again set up some ambushes where the VP scheme rewards the red player for knocking over a couple of trucks.  Blue's CUF is then adjusted accordingly in terms of resupply after those missions.  Then have another couple of missions on the outskirts of the AO similar to the first where again you're just looking at knocking over a couple of dudes but also running down Blue ammo.  Then have a final mission in which the FOB/PB is attacked.  Again, knocking over the FOB/PB does not necessarily need to be the goal of the insurgent but clearly Blue's ability to defend will be hampered by accumulated casualties and low ammunition levels if you track them in the CUF.

I played around quite a lot with this sort of concept a long time back, although from the Blue perspective but could never really get it to work as I wanted it based on my first tour in Afghanistan.  I was specifically looking at Sangin and the Op LOAM convoys from Bastion up to Sangin.  I may even have the maps somewhere.

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Hey Bozowans thanks for the input and the suggestions.

The Che Guevara account it sounds like the classic textbook example of the Mao doctrine of insurgency : hit them where they're weak, refuse to engage when the enemy is strong, retreat then regroup and harass them elsewhere etc. Ammunition is probably less of a concern for the Taliban due to the pretty much constant state of war the country has experienced for the past 40 years and also the proximity of nearby countries with large stocks of weapons that can be smuggled in.

Your second idea is really interesting because it is the archetype of the fighting in Afghanistan or at least of how one pictures it, dating back to the war with the Soviet Union. It also fits with what I want to achieve, some sort of fairly low intensity skirmish with not a huge death toll. And long range fire will definitely help with that. I like large maps too. A potential issue is seeing whether the AI will actually engage at such long distances. I will have to do some testing.

So far I have focused on the flatter parts of Afghanistan where this type of engagement would not work as well but this is something I could do.

The part about long range firefights remind me of something I have read about how the Taliban when confronted with the Marine corps switched from opening fire at medium range to long range because the return fire from the marines was way too deadly.

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@Combatintman Thanks yes this is clearly a good idea too, nice framework for a series of battles. I like the convoy ambush having an impact on the refit and resupply, this is good. I think this is sort of similar to what Punje did but without the logistic element. I know people really like campaigns but I don't really feel like tackling one. I am more of a single scenario type of person. I don't think I have the attention span for such a long project lol. I will try to read on the OP Loam you mentioned.

And yes it is not that easy to portray it semi accurately, hard to get the balance right between too bloody and too uneventful. I think in general most people enjoy the big mechanized warfare battles more rather than this kind of stuff. But I played lots of your scenarios and they have inspired me quite a lot, made me reconsider the way I looked at Afghanistan from let's say a scenario design perspective. I think you managed to get it right to be honest.

Post the maps if you find them!

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In CM Terms, Salang Blues is a Mujaheddin CM:A campaign, with a lot to like about it: 

https://www.thefewgoodmen.com/tsd3/cm-afghanistan-2/cm-afghanistan-campaigns/salang-blues-campaign/

You start with a poorly equipped rebel force, ambushing a convoy, and this escalates - initially the convoys are lightly defended, then they start being better protected. You start with bolt action rifles, and eventually build to RPGs and the like. Some mission have helicopter support, so you need to extract before this comes in, etc.

In terms of source material, The Other Side of the Mountain is probably the single best resource for you. The Bear Went Over the Mountain isn't bad either, but getting the words from the source is better for this purpose. The book is full of tactical vignettes, and divides up the scenarios into types - Ambushes, Raids, Attacking Strongpoints, etc.

http://www.tribalanalysiscenter.com/TAUDOC/Other Side of Mountain.pdf

Obviously the subject matter is the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but the principles are the same, and there's plenty of material to adapt for a CM-scale battle.

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Thanks I just reinstalled CMA the other day, so I might give this a try. But it is a bit painful going back to CMA, too many missing features compared to SF2 which is a pity.

I have read Glantz's book before but not this. It looks like there is a lot of good info in here, I see there are some diagrams too, nice. Since we're sharing resources, there is this that I found too :

Insurgent Tactics Southern Afghanistan 2005-2008 :

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB370/docs/Document 5.pdf

This plus your pdf should keep me busy for a little while.

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There is definitely room for improvement in the Salang Blues campaign (and agreed about being painful going back), but it's also the only attempt I've seen for that kind of thing.

The nice thing is the build towards "professionalism" - especially the briefings where they start as a handwritten note, and get more sophisticated.

One thing that CM:A has over CMSF is the range of low-end weapons - you can go from Lee Enfields and Bren guns up to AKs and RPGs. The demo-charge equipped uncons are also sorely missed in CMSF.

Still, the basic idea is sound, and it's worth a look.

It's something I've been meaning to tackle for a long time, but have never gotten around to it.

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Guerilla/special forces ambush kind of scenarios is a cool idea but due to editor/gane engine limitations they are very tricky to get to work well...

One of the main problems...atleast with a MOVING AI is the current limitation with...

ONE way forward or none at all...

An AI group set to patroll/move in a certain direction can not be made to abandon that move in reaction to a player ambush...and all of a sudden start down a different path as a result of that ambush...the tac AI might halt the group in place and return fire but other then that they will not take any new actions...instead it will try to resume its original movement order as soon as they are able to...and that may not be a very good reaction to an enemy ambush...

Also...The AI as a whole will not react to TAKING FIRE...and change their current task...ther is no such option avaliable to the AI...Sort of limiting if you would want the AI to defend themself in a good way after being ambushed...

A player 'ambush' on a stationary AI possition (like a forward base) might be somewhat  easier to do as the ONE WAY FORWARD could be in reaction to the player ambush/attack...prior to this the AI group is stationary...

But ones again...the various AI groups will only be able to react into ONE DIRECTION or none at all...

Can be a bit tricky if the player has the option to attack from multiple directions...

From wich direction will the player come ?

I'm sure that scenarios like this can be made...but they are tricky unfortunatelly

 

 

 

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Re capturing ammo, the govt force could be protecting a "friendly" dump that can be captured by the insurgents.  Would be useful in a campaign where resupply is nil or low.  But, I know CMA doesn't feature dumps.

The other way would be to liberate insurgents (with ammo) who are trapped and require being broken out with friendlies with demo charges.  If the trapped insurgents are all (say) "Team B" units and the attackers are all "Team A" units, they could recombine and thus acquire ammo.

Edited by Erwin
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2 hours ago, Erwin said:

Re capturing ammo, the govt force could be protecting a "friendly" dump that can be captured by the insurgents.  Would be useful in a campaign where resupply is nil or low.  But, I know CMA doesn't feature dumps.

The other way would be to liberate insurgents (with ammo) who are trapped and require being broken out with friendlies with demo charges.  If the trapped insurgents are all (say) "Team B" units and the attackers are all "Team A" units, they could recombine and thus acquire ammo.

Or you can use the campaign script to handle this which is a simpler and more elegant solution.

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I was working on something once where the insurgents had to attack some civilians (or maybe a check point), to lure a QRF out of their base. Once they were away, the insurgents could raid the base with a lot fewer defenders. 

Edited by puje
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Well I am not sure I have got any closer to finding a good way to make it work but at least I have a better idea about the sort of things the Taliban should be doing in a normal scenario and the tactics they use. I haven't given up though. I still think it might be interesting, in some sort of perverse masochistic way perhaps, to see what it is possible to do with a bunch of ragtag troops against a modern army with superior firepower, arty support and air power. But in the hands of the AI, it is probably bound to feel like a 3 yo holding a bazooka or a blind Mike Tyson.

Because the way I see it, the only real way it can work is if A/ it is not a proper ambush, but more like the Taliban gathering and marching to the sounds of the guns so to speak, to converge on the AI forces. And B/ the AI has an overwhelming superiority and the player as a result is forced to skulk, take potshots, reposition, flank etc. And thus the AI being so strong doesn't actually have to react to the player's move but can keep plodding through toward its objective. And it is the human player who has to adapt and react, not the other way around.

By the way Puje, sorry for butchering your name.

Edited by Zveroboy1
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That is a bit of a shame how limited the AI is when reacting to an ambush. I suppose a workaround for that would be to have the scenario start right after first contact or right after the ambush has been sprung. I know some scenarios have done that already, where they start with a couple of burning vehicles on the road and some forces already in position. Then the reaction to the ambush can be better planned. 

Perhaps one way to start a scenario would be to have the vanguard of the enemy force already out in the road in front of you with a burning vehicle or two and some troops strung out along the road, with your forces already in contact starting on turn 1. Then you have to disengage and retreat and regroup before enemy reinforcements arrive and you can try ambushing them again later or fight delaying actions or something.

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Yes this is not a bad idea at all. I can think of at least one scenario for SF2 that starts like what you describe, from MikeyD I think, not positive. But it lets you play Blue not Red. Or it could be a logistic convoy with no dismounts, only a couple of humvees, this way vehicles would just try to extract from the ambush and drive to the edge of the map. But then you got the problem of how quickly a reaction force would arrive on the scene. In reality the insurgents would be long gone I suspect.

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