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High casualty rates in CM games


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1 hour ago, RepsolCBR said:

One thing that i am considdering to include , in some of my future scenarios atleast, is some degree of 'custom difficulty setting'...

In addition to the default player-force that the scenario has been designed to be played with i'm thinking of adding some additional units (located on a small exitzone) at the rear of the player setup area. If the player would like to include some of those units he simply moves them of the exitzone before hitting go (during setup). This will make the scenario somewhat easier then the default setup.

Simularely...if he would like more of a challange he could move some of the default units onto the exitzone to make them dissapear ones he hits go.

I do something similar that works fairly well.  The player will have extra units on his side of the map out of LOS.  These units will often appear on the map as reinforcements so they don't clutter the setup zone on the first turn.  These reinforcing units are enemy spot unit objectives.  So if the player decides to use them the enemy will spot them and earn VPs.

The player has a decision.  Give the enemy 200 spot unit VPs by activating the platoon of Tigers in the effort to take the 300 VP terrain objective etc. 

 

46 minutes ago, John1966 said:

Mind you, I'd also add that including casualty parameters in the victory conditions is another weapon to make a realistic scenario. Make the objectives fairly easy but you can only win if it doesn't cost too much in lives (and, indeed, vehicles).

This is an interesting idea.  Friendly condition, friendly casualties and friendly ammo.  I've mostly seen this used in the modern titles.  It could probably be used more often in the WW2 titles.  In RL after a certain number of casualties a command becomes combat ineffective.   In CM we can order our command to fight to the last soldier.  The friendly parameters, specifically condition and casualties, might help to discourage some of the unrealistic fighting to the last man situations.    

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14 minutes ago, landser said:

I don't know what the right answer is,

I might venture creative use of Exit Zone mechanic. 

You're certainly going to have bloody battles in the biggest war in history don't get me wrong. Like i've been saying for years though, the games are far too predisposed to this, especially the campaigns, which rapidly become unplayable if you try to match all of their conditional requirements. The main thing I want just want to see is reform of the thinking behind scoring mechanics. If the enemy has a strong position maybe placing enough optional lesser captures on the map would create context by introducing reasonable measures for indirect strategy like fix and bypass. I almost can't imagine any scenario i'd design for the Germans for instance that would lack an exit zone. 

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Like the idea of paying for extra time with VP's - assuming of course that the AI plan does not fall apart cos of the extra timer allowed.

Also, it would be great if there was an easy way to make sure we are not playing the same old AI plan if one wants to replay (without dicking around in the editor).

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I find that, when leading my men, if I have a low-cost victory and all (or most) survive, I have a cold beer and look back at what happened.

When my men die and suffer needless casualties and fail, I have a cold beer and look back at what happened.

 

:)

 

 

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22 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

One thing that i am considdering to include , in some of my future scenarios atleast, is some degree of 'custom difficulty setting'...

In addition to the default player-force that the scenario has been designed to be played with i'm thinking of adding some additional units (located on a small exitzone) at the rear of the player setup area. If the player would like to include some of those units he simply moves them of the exitzone before hitting go (during setup). This will make the scenario somewhat easier then the default setup.

That's actually a pretty cool idea.

22 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

As of now i have not considdered any VP impacts of these tweaks of the original force...

And that's the brilliant part. Since units assigned to exit are considered to score VPs for the opposition if they do not exit the battlefield. That means you can assign some number of points to those units and by keeping them the player is shifting VPs to their opponent. The more they decide to keep the more points their opponent starts with as a handy-cap.

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"If the player would like to include some of those units he simply moves them of the exitzone before hitting go (during setup). This will make the scenario somewhat easier then the default setup."

Very interesting idea.   Of course one may not realize one needs the extra units until mid-game.  Having a trigger area which can bring on extra units still seems like the best idea like what MOS did in his COUP and TOC scenarios.

(And how the hell do you get rid of this dam BG color!!?)

 

Edited by Erwin
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1 hour ago, IanL said:

And that's the brilliant part. Since units assigned to exit are considered to score VPs for the opposition if they do not exit the battlefield. That means you can assign some number of points to those units and by keeping them the player is shifting VPs to their opponent. The more they decide to keep the more points their opponent starts with as a handy-cap.

Yes...this could be a good option. In a singleplayer game i can see no problem with this at all...but maybe in a H2H game.

If one of the players are somewhat less honest i guess he might use the units first for some time...and then exit them before the end of the battle 🥴...

I hope and belive that very few would even considder doing this...but i guess that it could be possible...

In a singleplayergame the only person you would fool would be youself...and that would be quite...retarded 😤

If need be i guess that the map could be designed to prevent this but it really shouldn't be neccesary.

I think that both this and the units spotted options mentioned by MOS:96B2P could work fine...

I also belive that having the option to tweak the force...either from the get-go or later into the scenario are both valid options...or perhaps even use them both 😊...might depend on the scenario.

Example of a scenario...

The kampfgruppe that your battalion is asigned to is very hard pressed...the russians are attacking all over the front with supperior forces...the kampgruppe has some additional supporting units...but they are equally well needed at other sections of the front line...do you need part of them to hold your sektor ? (Yes = VP penalty)...or do you belive that you will be able to even spare part of your battalion for use by your neighboring units ? (Yes = extra VP)...

 

 

Edited by RepsolCBR
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15 hours ago, John1966 said:

Well, quite. But if they hadn't all been crack, they'd have broken and ran. Which seemed like the sensible option, all things considered. ;)

They would have kept coming no matter what. Broken troops can still be ordered to move forward. That's also why you see the crew of tanks you knocked out keep trying to attack you.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Interesting discussion.

I've played around a fair bit with 'EXIT' options. However, I've found as soon as you allocate 'destroy' unit objectives where their side has an 'EXIT' objective it means any units that don't exit of the map will count as 'destroyed' at the end. Now you can allocate a bonus the affected to off-set this but it can make scoring problematic.

Using 'spot' unit objectives avoids this and you can account for stuff going 'boom' using the parameters e.g. enemy casualties 30% etc (though they are binary i.e. its all or nothing to get the points). I've found using 'EXIT' objectives and 'terrain' objectives combined with 'spot' unit objectives can allow some flexibility  which changes the game play dynamic from blowing stuff up to capturing terrain whilst avoiding having your stuff spotted (you can still use parameters to account for overall damage inflicted on the enemy and sustained by yourself).

This has the potential to encourage the player to be more conservative with their force (to avoid giving points away by being spotted) and eliminating enemy units is the way to achieve your terrain objectives. If you think it ain't working i..e your opponent is giving you a kicking then you can conduct a tactical withdrawal and exit the map without any cost.

It's not prefect as you don't neccessarily get rewarded for making stuff going 'boom' unless you make more of your enemy's stuff go 'boom' than yours then you can pick up points from the parameters.

The key drawback is I've found players often don't 'get' what 'spot' unit objectives mean. So having all your stuff spotted (the enemy thus getting points) but killing enemy units (but being below the % parameter so you don't get any points)  could still mean you lose which can be counter intuitive...

Cheery!

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10 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Broken troops can still be ordered to move forward.

Well they can but the first sign of returning fire and they're off. They won't charge headlong into withering fire in any kind of sustained way. They're quite concerned about remaining live pixeltruppen.

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6 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

This continues until the end result is the same - massive casualty rates.

They get killed faster if they keep coming. Apart from the fact that they're closing the range if they don't rout, they get a few minutes out of contact in they do.

Seriously, two crack sides is a recipe for an unrealistically high casualty game. Broken pixeltruppen are primarily concerned with self-preservation. Crack troops just want to take the objective.

And if your boys are all broken then you're unlikely to ever get near the objectives if they're defended by unbroken troops anyway.

Broken troops have their uses, all out assaults are not really one of them.

I had a long break from CM after playing Bloody Omaha. Because it was a three-hour game and having broken the German MLR after an hour, it then became a very tedious process to take the rear areas with mainly broken troops who were low on ammo. Never did take them all.

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On 10/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, Bulletpoint said:

While I agree with the above comments about tactics and players pushing too hard, here are a couple of very specific reasons why we see such high casualties.

  • The HUNT command doesn't work as it should - troops don't go prone immediately when fired upon. There is currently no way of really advancing cautiously with infantry, even when you know enemy contact is imminent.
     
  • Real life troops can go "hull down" behind ridges, but in CM, since it's a square-based system, it's either you stay where you are or you advance 8 metres into the field of fire. No middle ground. This makes slopes more difficult to deal with than in reality.
     
  • Troops can't use corners of buildings for cover. Yes, there was a "peek around corners" feature added recently, but it doesn't work reliably, and even when it does, it just places one guy from the team in the street. He's not peeking, and he doesn't seem to be getting any cover bonus from the corner of the building.
     
  • Broken troops can still be ordered to advance, and even though they are less effective than fresh troops, they can still engage. They never reach the point where they refuse to follow orders. In reality, there's a limit to how far you can push people.
     
  • Many buildings offer less cover than they should. Especially the barns in Normandy are shown as being made of stone, but they offer cover values as if they were American barns made out of thin wooden planks. I've seen many opponents place MGs etc. in such barns, not realising they are death traps.
     
  • When placing troops in shellholes, some guys will often simply refuse to take cover in the crater, and instead they will sit on the edge in full view. In CM1, this was abstracted, but in CM2, placement of individual pixeltroops really matters.
     
  • Gunners in most open vehicles are placed way too high compared to where the sight of their weapon is.
     
  • When sending a team to run or hunt along a low wall, individual troops will often decide to cross the wall and walk for a while on the other side before crossing back. This exposes them to fire and makes it more difficult to use the cover.
     
  • Troops don't go to ground when they see artillery starting to land nearby. They only go prone if the enemy shells hit very close to their own location. In real life, if you saw a mortar shell hit 100m to your right, and another 80m to your left, you'd be smart enough to realise that you're in a barrage, and that you should get down. Even if no shell actually landed on top of you yet.

This is a really good comprehensive summary that I hope Battlefront at least recognise are aspects of the game mechanics which ideally could be improved (not that I am expecting them to actually do anything about it, though even addressing just one of these in a patch would be a huge win).

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  • 6 months later...
Posted (edited)

The problem of infantry protection has already been mentioned. The benefit of fortifications is puny. It's a pity that fortifications are so neglected. Also, Pixelsoldiers tend to be too brave. They often continue to run under fire (default reaction of most move orders) and they also tend to kneel while under fire (I use an animation mod by ROckinharry (?) so that my men stay prone more often and survive much better). And Pixelsoldiers they don't make the best use of cover (which is understandable, as this must be a highly complicated issue to tackle). I'd also like to point out that I often get the impression that infantry often seems to move somewhat unflexibly and slowly - almost as if stuck in some jelly. But then again, this is balanced out by the bad shooting skills of many pixelsoldiers.

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Another point which has not been mentioned in this thread yet is map design. While I understand that many other players don't share my opinion, I'm still convinced that the map design is one of the main culprits for the exagerated casualty rate in CM.

Of course not all maps are the same and many maps are well researched and realistically scaled. But the big bunch of sandbox quickbattle maps are anything but realistic. Their landscapes resemble tabletop miniature landscapes. In general, the footprint of most terrain features (a forest, a field, a hill,...) is too small and there are too many terrain features in too little space. Exaggerated example: On a 1x1km CM map, you can often find 2 hills, 5 woods, 2 villages. In reality, such a space would comprise half a hill (sloping gently, not cutting LOS!), a village and perhaps a part of a forest.  

The main consequence of "too many small terrain features in too little space" is that lines of sight/fire are cut much too frequently. This in turn reduces the range at which combat typically takes place. For a combat mission player, a 200m LOF feels like a luxurious "long range". In reality, it's still well within rifle range and all too common! Now, if the combat distance is "too" short, it's no surprise that casualty rates are high. The attacker often has to move into what amounts to an ambush by the defender. Often, there is not a single position from which you could bring your support weapons like hMGs to bear on the enemy from a reasonable distance (outside rifle range! at a range at which you're not immediately spotted and shot dead and thus have time to set up!). On many maps, there is no way for the attacker to establish a "soft" contact and build up fire to suppress a position. Most contact in Combat Mission games is hard contact at point blank range. 

Hills are particularly critical, because going prone doesn't reduce your exposure that much when fired at from above at short range. On gentler, flatter slopes, things are different. 

---------------

Another issue is that weapons who are supposed to be very good at suppression often can't be used effectively. The main victims are machine gun teams. Not only are they handicapped by map design (as mentioned above), but also the way that area fire works makes their use very unreliable and fiddly. You need to have LOS onto the GROUND in your target-area spot. Needless to say that it is often impossible for a MG team that lies prone to see any spot on the ground. You're not allowed to fire in a "direction" if you cannot see a spot on the ground. Thus MGs are often unable to fire - reverse slope targets everywhere, no line of fire! Also, you can't fire through bushes. The only way around this is to have an elevated position. 

Another issue for MGs is that the game does not allow them to target more than 1 action spot (a front of 8m) in a single turn. If firing from a proper distance, the gun would hardly need to be traversed to cover an area much larger than a single action spot. There are reasons why MGs in Combat Mission are extremely underwhelming and don't have the suppressive effect they should have. Less suppression = more casualties. 

Edited by Kaunitz
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15 minutes ago, Kaunitz said:

I use an animation mod by ROckinharry (?) so that my men stay prone more often and survive much better).

Unless you've changed something in the engine, the modded stances of troops in the game is pure eye-candy.

16 minutes ago, Kaunitz said:

"too many small terrain features in too little space" is that lines of sight/fire are cut much too frequently.

Agreed.  Until the last few years, large maps were too processor demanding... or maybe more people have more powerful machines now.  But, yes, playing most of the games, it makes one wonder why anything had a range of over 300-500 meters.  Some of the scenarios by GeorgeMC (eg: in CMSF2 etc) are remarkable as they often feature large maps where one can experience LOS of 2Km-3Km+.\

20 minutes ago, Kaunitz said:

Also, you can't fire through bushes.

In CM2, shells do carry on past the aiming point and do affect units directly behind.  Area Fire vs sound contacts in woods can be very effective.

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19 minutes ago, Erwin said:

Unless you've changed something in the engine, the modded stances of troops in the game is pure eye-candy.

 

quick response task force coming in. 😁 @Erwin sorry, got to disagree. If it´s just eye candy I wouldn´t have released the file swaps to public at all. The intended main purpose was just that. Lowered single soldier target footprints at cases, where it makes some sense. Main purpose was and still is single player vs. the AI. Was bits of tested in PBEM as well, where both players have the animation swap files in place on their PC´s. There´s some old threads where all of this was debated already.  IF you have some insider info (from dev´s and beta team) and they tell it´s all nonsense, then please tell! I still prefer that direct insider info before any my own observations and conclusions. 😎

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This might be hard to adress without either a complete AI rework (meaning the AI is able to recognize when an attack has failed and withdraws) or a strategic layer like in Graviteam where your forces carry over between battles and you can decide which battles to take and which not. Until then it is "all or nothing".

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Posted (edited)

As I've noted before elsewhere, battles (outside Hollywood and HBO) very rarely consist of 'mad minute' dramatic charges with all guns in continuous action one after the other for 1-2 solid hours, yet that is the norm in CM.

Actual combat, even high intensity combat with forces in close contact, is nonetheless punctuated by extended lulls to observe, regroup, rally, medevac, call in fire support, etc. While most of the poor blighters simply cower in holes, overcome by fear, shock, exhaustion, and dehydration while a tense silence settles over the eerily empty battlescape. Until another stonk drops, or someone exposes himself to a sniper, or urgent orders to get moving again are finally obeyed, most usually by fresh troops.

Like a few others here, my focus is on designing (and occasionally even publishing 🤪) well-documented historical tactical (infantry) actions, fought in their historical tactical footprints: Makin Atoll, Ramadi (Iraq), Le Meauffe-le Carillon. And the RL timeframes involved run from 4 hour blocks to most of a day, at the end of which both forces are generally spent and regroup to 'tie in' for the night. In apocalyptic city fights like Stalingrad and Mosul (ht @Sgt.Squarehead), or cave fights like Peleliu and Okinawa that's why you hear about entire companies being spent taking a few rooms in a building or a hundred yards of lava, or a single Norman hedgerow. Most of the men aren't literally dead or maimed, but by the end of the day they are in no condition to do much more than hold their holes.

So as far as reflecting this in the game is concerned, I just abstractly assume that these lulls are in fact occurring, but off the clock, and that most of the guys who show as 'casualties' aren't in fact hit but have simply hit their limit and are unavailable for further orders (so they might as well be dead as far as the player-CO is concerned).

So when we say that scenarios 'forcing' us to take meet our objectives in 2 hours seems unrealistically short, the constraints we are actually racing against are remaining daylight (ok, night actions are a different beast) plus the actual endurance limit of the formations involved. Anyway, that's how I think of it, and design accordingly.

Edited by LongLeftFlank
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Erwin said:

Unless you've changed something in the engine, the modded stances of troops in the game is pure eye-candy.

I concur with RockinHarry. It does make a difference. From my impressions, hit registry is indeed somehow linked to the actual models, and the animation changes where the model is. 

10 hours ago, Erwin said:

In CM2, shells do carry on past the aiming point and do affect units directly behind.  Area Fire vs sound contacts in woods can be very effective.

This doesn't help if you don't get any aiming point at all, as it commonly happens on flatter maps. Then the only means to fire your MG in a direction is to use a very close target area spot, which leads to very high ammo consumption and incredible spread of burts (for each fire action, the MG targets a random point in the action square. If the action square is very close, the angle of dispersion is huge...).

Also, firing at point in front of the target may sometimes results in a bad (too high) trajectory. The trajectory runs roughly from the muzzle to a random point in the target square at about knee-height. If the target point is slightly "above" your muzzle height (as it often happens because you need to see the ground to spot it), and your gun is firing knee-height at a target point, the shots often go high.

----

And yes, there are also many maps that are marvellous and more realistically scaled. I appreciate that and it is by no means meant as a reproach to all the people who put their heart into designing maps. The problem is most severe for older quickbattle maps. I also have the impression that it's sometimes meant to give infantry a better chance against armor.

Edited by Kaunitz
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