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Why is the Panzer IV so expensive to buy in Quick Battles?


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12 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Another interesting matchup to consider is that a cheap US armoured car (M8) can kill an expensive German medium tank (Panzer IV) frontally from up to 700m. If firing APCBC, up to 1500m. I don't know which ammo they fire in CM.

But German light armour cannot knock out an Allied medium tank (Sherman) frontally at any range - unless by hollow charge from a short barrel 75, which is very inaccurate.

APCBC came out by late 43'-early 44' and so 700m sounds about right...

Now, I remember an account someone mentioned where in N. Africa a platoon of Stuarts jumped/ran around 1-2 PZIV F2-G's and after several shots to the front, flank, rear didn't get a KO, and ended up running off. 

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I also just looked at a couple HO & Micro-Armor Rules Penetrations & Armor, etc ( Tractics, Panzer Tactics, GHQ Tank Charts). Tractics has penetration of Turret face (50mm @15) at around 750 meters, and Turret Mantle at Point Blank or less then 100 meters (Turret Mantle stated as having 80mm)...However, both Panzer Tractics & GHQ Tank Charts shows the M5 penetrating Turret of PZIV H Turret (overall 62mm) at Point Blank or less then 100 meters. 

So, Tractics probably sounds closer to what the penetration should be against Turret Face, however, if the Mantle is indeed 80mm, then penetration there would be Point-Blank (unless it's a misprint and both Turret Face & Mantle are at 50mm @15 or slightly rounded. 

Now, 

 

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On 12/12/2020 at 5:08 PM, holoween said:

Tbh the pz4 price is one of the more reasobable ones. If you want to go after the really problematic ones start with the 30points strafing aircraft.

There'll be someone along shortly to tell you that

  • it's realistic because the Allies had a lot of planes
  • you can just agree with your opponent not to use those
  • If you're getting strafed then you're clearly playing the game wrong.
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Let’s stop the hyperbole train because it really just derails any serious discussion, ok?

I agree that that pricing of some units feels off, including the StuG and the Panzer IV. I also think the Abrams is too cheap in CMBS.

But I don’t think you can argue that the PZIv is too expensive because it can be killed with an M8’s 37mm. So can a Panther or JagdPanther. Shall we suggest then that they should cost perhaps the same as a Sherman? Or perhaps that the panzerfaust, since it can take out a Jumbo, should cost 400 points? I think few would find that sensible.

Is the Panzer IV most costly because it has better long range capabilities? I don’t know. Balancing these costs is very tricky, as there can be many arguments for shifting that purchase price up or down and they would be quite reasonable propositions, depending on specific circumstances. And it’s those circumstances that have to be gauged and weighed for probability of occurring. Yes, the M8 can take out a Panther. How often does that happen if people of reasonable competence are playing both sides? Should the M8 be bumped up to cost 300, 400 points on that basis? I think not. Certainly the Panther user could present an argument to do so. ;) But I think if we genuinely try to be fair we can see that it’s not a truly comfortable argument to make.

Regarding strafing aircraft, they (I believe) are fairly inexpensive because they are simply not incredibly effective. I’m sure we have all lost a few men to them, but a strafer causing serious harm on a regular basis? I remain unconvinced that that is true. 

Edited by Bud Backer
Why else? Typos!
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3 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

Regarding strafing aircraft, they (I believe) are fairly inexpensive because they are simply not incredibly effective. I’m sure we have all lost a few men to them, but a strafer causing serious harm on a regular basis? I remain unconvinced that that is true. 

If you have any lightly armoured or unarmoured vehicles aircraft will shred them with ease earning you several times its points back. And shooting at infantry a single basic infantry squad makes its cost back.

At 30 points a piece its an auto include in every QB. Youre not sacrificing anything and get to invalidate any attempt at using mechanized troops.

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7 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

Let’s stop the hyperbole train because it really just derails any serious discussion, ok?

I'm all for serious discussion. That's what I was hoping for by starting this thread. I hope people read it with an open mind, even if they disagree.

 

7 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

But I don’t think you can argue that the PZIv is too expensive because it can be killed with an M8’s 37mm.

Agreed, and this wasn't really my main argument either. Just an additional interesting thing to consider.

Like you said, balancing unit costs in this game has to take into account a lot of different factors. The main thing for armoured vehicles is the kind of matchups they are likely to get into, how much damage they can do, and how much they can take in return. But of course tank usefulness also depends on likely engagement ranges, spotting capabilites, ammo, gun velocity and accuracy, etc. So I completely agree there's no easy answer to any of this.

My main argument here is that similar vehicles should be priced in a similar way. Comparing the PzIV to the Sherman, they are intended for much the same role: Supporting infantry and fighting off other medium tanks and light vehicles. The Sherman has better armour; the PzIV has a slightly better gun.

But that gun won't give it much advantage, because at the ranges where it can land a first shot faster due to better accuracy, the Sherman's armour now starts to survive the hit.

In 1944, the Panzer IV was no longer a good tank, but it's priced as one in the game. The Sherman was actually much better than its "Ronson deathtrap" myth, but it's priced as the underdog in the game.

My second argument is that unit balancing should help make all units viable (at least in some situations), so that players are not pushed towards only using a limited part of the available vehicles.

In the case of the Panzer IV, I think its high cost pushes players towards choosing the typical German Übertanks. Simply because their value is so much better.

For Commonwealth players, I think the very cheap Shermans make some of the special British tanks redundant, because a Sherman will happily do anything a Cromwell or a Churchill will do (apart from the later heavy Churchills), while being cheaper.

So, while the games include a lot of interesting units, few of them are actually viable in a QB because the balancing for some units is off. I think that's a pity.

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1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

I'm all for serious discussion. That's what I was hoping for by starting this thread. I hope people read it with an open mind, even if they disagree.

Good. I know you are a thoughtful fellow, so don't accept the bait and drop the level of discussion I know you are capable of holding. :) It just doesn't go anywhere and encourages more nonsense.

1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

My main argument here is that similar vehicles should be priced in a similar way. Comparing the PzIV to the Sherman, they are intended for much the same role: Supporting infantry and fighting off other medium tanks and light vehicles. The Sherman has better armour; the PzIV has a slightly better gun.

But that gun won't give it much advantage, because at the ranges where it can land a first shot faster due to better accuracy, the Sherman's armour now starts to survive the hit.

In 1944, the Panzer IV was no longer a good tank, but it's priced as one in the game. The Sherman was actually much better than its "Ronson deathtrap" myth, but it's priced as the underdog in the game.

There was a reason the Germans were trying to use and improve the Panther, and I think you are essentially confirming that here. And Tommy-Lighters or Ronsons or Shermans, call them what one will, there are reasons for those monikers, unfortunately the moniker sticks long after the reasons it was granted are corrected. Neither here nor there, in terms of the cost discussion, but nice anecdotes to be sure. 

As I said before, the Panzer IV's price could be tweaked, sure. How much is the penultimate discussion. The ultimate discussion is whether the costs factor in something we may not be aware of. After so long and so many game versions, I think it's going to be difficult to gain traction to undertake a rather time consuming review of unit costs (because let's face it, it won't end with just the handful of units we've chatted about here). One can't just look at a pair of units in isolation. The fortunate thing is that the cost is not 150% or some exorbitant higher than it should be, at least in my view. That would become painful indeed.  And I think you know, I am exclusively a QB player, so I appreciate it being a functional, robust system because it's vital for my enjoyment of these simulations. 

1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

My second argument is that unit balancing should help make all units viable (at least in some situations), so that players are not pushed towards only using a limited part of the available vehicles.

In the case of the Panzer IV, I think its high cost pushes players towards choosing the typical German Übertanks. Simply because their value is so much better.

For Commonwealth players, I think the very cheap Shermans make some of the special British tanks redundant, because a Sherman will happily do anything a Cromwell or a Churchill will do (apart from the later heavy Churchills), while being cheaper.

So, while the games include a lot of interesting units, few of them are actually viable in a QB because the balancing for some units is off. I think that's a pity.

These are interesting arguments, and I see the value in things working the way you suggest, however, let me take my beta tester certificate off the wall and speak from the designer's perspective on this: some games do exactly the approach you suggest. It encourages a breadth of unit choices over those that are the most cost effective and efficient. However, it is my understanding (I emphasize that word as I have not had BFC speak directly on their process) that unit costs are based on unit capabilities and limitations. Rarity, as we know, factors in how available something is. But the unit cost is not meant to promote some sort of meta-game where the use of some units that are otherwise not the best choice are tacitly encouraged by making them attractive from a cost standpoint. As a simulation that tries hard to be fairly realistic (within limitations that can be debated ad-nauseam) it would not make sense (in my opinion, no disrespect to yours) to do what you suggest.

The fact is that if I want Cromwells (to use your example), I will happily buy them because that is the situation I am trying to create. I want to have a reasonable assurance that they are priced using the same standards as everything else. I think that it might be overstating things to say that QB cannot be interesting and challenging for both parties unless one limits one's purchases to a very narrow group of exceptionally cost-effective choices. It's not been my experience. Of course, one can take things to extremes to prove you're right, one can really go crazy with min-maxing but I think we are both trying to be reasonable and not make arguments based on unusual situations. 

 

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2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

The main thing for armoured vehicles is the kind of matchups they are likely to get into, how much damage they can do, and how much they can take in return. But of course tank usefulness also depends on likely engagement ranges, spotting capabilites, ammo, gun velocity and accuracy, etc. So I completely agree there's no easy answer to any of this.

This caught my eye after I wrote the above and wanted to address it because it is an important assumption. I emphasized one part because I think this is key. This is very much an assumption of the cost factor. It appears to imply that in this discussion, the Sherman is the natural match-up for the Panzer IV. I think this might be a easy conclusion to make, however, let's challenge that for a moment. It is a likely matchup? Sure. So is Sherman-Panther. Or Sherman-SdKfz 251. Or Sherman-infantry. 

I say this not be be silly but rather to draw one's attention that the kind of matchups they are likely to get into is a highly variable, theatre- and situation-dependent comparison. And I think potentially risky to use as a cost-factor. A unit has to have a value - for game purposes - based on its capabilities and limitations, and not compared to another unit. Only then will one have a true value for a unit. 

Naturally the unit does not exist in a vacuum, and naturally we would compare that unit to another, and their relative costs. That's useful information to have and to compare. But to base a cost on "how well it fares against its presumptive enemy" is making a comparison on a sliding scale where the Sherman or PzIV will change value based on what it faces, or how what it faces is improved over time. I know this isn't exactly what you meant, but I am explaining a design logic here. To carry that further then, I do not think we can use the kind of matchups they are likely to get into as a cost factor. What if the Sherman was constantly running into Panthers? It should still cost the same. Is a Sherman less pricey if it has to face Infantry most of the time (which in fact it would). I think while it is natural to make the comparison between medium tanks the value of those medium tanks it faces is not the sole factor. What about anti-infantry capability? I don't just mean weapons, how well can each spot infantry? How close? How about ammo supplies for various tasks. And so on. These are entirely unrelated to a presumptive match-up. 

I re-requoted your statement several times because it was the easiest way to discuss it, not to make it sound ridiculous. I hope it did not come across as the latter

Edited by Bud Backer
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There are many interesting things to consider, and I fully admit this stuff is not simple. But just to keep things short, here is my personal opinion:

  • In a competitive game, there is a need for balance.
  • Balance should ideally take into account both absolute unit capabilities and the context - what a unit is likely to face.
  • As long as we let players pick and choose units, metagaming will unfortunately be a thing.
  • Metagaming means some interesting units will be left to collect dust, if the points costs do not reflect the unit quality. Because they are simply not competitive or valid choices, even if they were effective and common in the real war.
  • There might be hidden benefits to the Panzer IV to warrant the higher cost, but I have not experienced them over hundreds of hours of gameplay.

 

 

 

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Ah, Balance. :blink:

I agree, we need to have balance in a competitive game. And that is made all the harder because the war it is trying to simulate was never balanced. The more the game balances things the more it is removed from the realism that many die-hards would like to see.

Personally, I don’t feel I need an excuse to be able to use certain vehicles. You mentioned the Cromwell and other Commonwealth vehicles and it’s an interesting example. Are they overpriced? Do their costs not reflect their quality, as you put it? I actually don’t know. Even if their cost was adjusted, would rarity not come into play and make them still problematic to purchase compared to the ubiquitous Sherman? I don’t expect an answer, it’s more an illustration of how this isn’t actually an issue that cost adjustments will automatically correct; more a “can we all buy something other than the same 10 units” frustration. Which I can relate to. ;)

To turn the argument around, I am fairly certain that were units priced for balance, many would complain that Unit X is nowhere near as good as Unit Y, so how can their costs be so close? In a realism focused game balance might require some mental effort and collaboration between players, sometimes. I get it; that can be a hassle and source of argument. 

NONE of what we’ve talked about should imply that I agree with the prices of all units. I DO wonder why the StuG is so pricey. I’m less concerned with the PzIV than you but I can see a reasonable person could think they are overpriced and I’m inclined to agree. There are other examples. So I while I may take a different viewpoint on HOW to price things, I think getting the costs right is very very important. 
 

ps: I enjoyed this discussion. You brought up ideas and approaches that were outside my focus and it’s good to have that mental challenge of having one’s approach to a problem challenged in a positive way. 

Edited by Bud Backer
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17 minutes ago, Bud Backer said:

To turn the argument around, I am fairly certain that were units priced for balance, many would complain that Unit X is nowhere near as good as Unit Y, so how can their costs be so close?

This actually also happens as it is. If you look at Churchill tanks for example, they all nearly cost the same, but they are very different beasts. You only pay 18 points more for a much tougher powerful Churchill VII than a weaker Churchill IV - and you actually even save a lot rarity points while doing it. This effectively means you will never see other all the other kinds of Churchills in a quick battle. It's a no-brainer.

I think the unit price list should present the player with interesting choices. Do I go with the cheaper, weaker Churchill to save points for something else, or do I invest in a more powerful tank? The difference is not trivial. A Churchill VII can take on a German PAK defence head on - the IV can't.

 

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Parameters the US has a lot of planes, armor, artillery etc. German tanks should be expensive as there were a few of them around. A GI knew if he lost a battle life would carry on as usual in the US. A German soldier realized his mom, kid brothers and sisters could be in serious danger. The game should reflect this. A German soldier could turn into a fanatic when the sense of despair increases. Combat stress should work differently, combat effectiveness as a rule goes down, but in some instances it could increase. You still can have a very playable game which is more realistic. Loss of a Sherman tank affects the morale of US infantry, it increases the morale of German infantry. The other way out a Panzer 4 comes with a veteran crew a Sherman tank as they have more, more crew will be green.

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33 minutes ago, chuckdyke said:

German tanks should be expensive as there were a few of them around

This should be reflected by the rarity points cost.

33 minutes ago, chuckdyke said:

The other way out a Panzer 4 comes with a veteran crew a Sherman tank as they have more, more crew will be green.

All my price examples are based on equal crew quality (Regular, +0), so they can be compared directly.

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Ausf. H was the pinnacle of P. 4 development, equipped with new armour and new gun. The plain M4 had a taller silhouette, slower speed, less muzzle velocity, worse TC cupola, worse long range optics, etc.

Sure, the M4 had 1cm more of effective glacis armour (Ausf. H had 8cm at 90 degrees). I think the M4 also had better situational awareness for the gunner. Later variants would improve on a lot of the deficiencies, and they cost more.

I don't know about unit cost, but I would think the Ausf. H would cost more to produce than M4. I know the StuG was cheaper than the P. 3. Lacking a turret, I would expect it to cost significantly less points.

I really have no idea how force points are calculated. It usually involves a bit of trial and error to get the most bang for your buck in QB. I find static weapons to be inexplicably expensive.

Edited by DerKommissar
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6 hours ago, DerKommissar said:

Ausf. H was the pinnacle of P. 4 development, equipped with new armour and new gun

I'm only using the Ausf. H version as a "best case" example because it's the strongest Panzer IV, and yet it's still very overpriced in my opinion. The other variants cost nearly exactly the same, which means the price/quality rating is even lower.

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The Panzer IV was a pre war tank, little the Germans did could fundamentally alter that fact. It was almost unable to accept the new L/43 gun which kept it competitive, without which the war might well have ended a few months earlier than it did. The Ausf H was the most-overburdened model with a slower road cruise speed than the Tiger and faster forward sprocket wear than it too. No remedy was ever found for the weak turret armor (50mm). After the F2 model the Panzer IV was entirely a stop-gap to hold over Panzer Divisions until the Panther arrived, and Hitler nearly cancelled further production of it entirely but Guderian talked him out of this. The Mk IV's serviceability generally decreased throughout the war commensurate with its increasingly overweight chassis though, which was part of the argument for the Panther who's serviceability figures generally improved up until the economy began to fail. 

 Accounting for value of production between it and the M4 would be hard due to different accounting methods and materials use, but the Sherman was around 10 tons heavier and used way more rubber so I can't imagine it was the cheaper tank. The way the QB generator doles out value and points is highly dubious to me, and I prefer to use the scenario editor myself course I often have a way more specific context jangling around in the back of my mind as to my scenario so for me anyway, spin-the-bottle wouldn't work in any circumstances. 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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The only reason that unit cost should exist is for balancing QB battles.  It might be a useful guideline for scenario designers, but it doesn't make any sense to be hardlocking away the kind of scenarios they can design.

If you can agree with that logic (and I really don't think any other way of looking at it is sustainable), the only reason point cost should exist is for fairness.  Rarity is useful to to keep MP OOBs within certain parameters and prevent weird cheesy nonsense.  This is probably the most obvious instance in which the point costs are obviously very wrong - equivalent medium tanks should all sit in the same cost spectrum and the Pz IV and Sherman are about as close to equal as anything across the sides in the game.

One of the best things battlefront could do for the MP community is open up unit costs for modding.  They clearly aren't interested in spending time doing balance passes on point buy, at least let the community develop some consensus options.  

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