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Why I like playing the underdogs (Commonwealth, Free French, etc.)


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I know I harp on about this topic a lot, and I kind of managed to hijack the thread on using mortars, for which I apologise, so I thought I'd invite those who wanted to to continue the discussion here.

I've had a lot of fun over the years playing 'underdog' nations. I'm still massively enjoying playing CMFI - it's been non-stop since R2V came out. My favourite nations in that game are Commonwealth (including, but not limited to British), and the Free French.

1) The First World War

One thing that's very interesting about these nations is that to a certain extent, their armies still had one foot in the lessons and technology of the First World War, which is a conflict I am also interested in. Minus the PIAT and Tommy Gun (and a lot of my squads end up minus their Tommy Gun before long), the British platoon was not particularly different from its counterpart in 1918. And the tactics you have to use are somewhat 1918, methodical, cautious, slow, with all arms acting together.

2) The Brits

In contrast to their basic platoon, the Brits overall are a treasure trove of units and equipment - they have genuine, slow-moving, old-school heavy tanks, firing large caliber shells; they have flamethrower tanks and carriers; they have the most varied unit structures of any nationality, each specialised for a different purpose; and they have a plethora of dinky little light vehicles.

2) The Commonwealth - NZ

As a Kiwi, I love playing the NZ Army, an army characterised by its limitations more than its strengths. But all the Commonwealth countries are fun - and each one has a slightly different company and battalion organisation, slightly different vehicles and so on.

One of my favourites is the NZ Motorised Infantry, because it is much weaker than the British equivalent (only two squads per Motorised platoon, for example), but Freyberg (the real one), in the face of mounting losses, tried really hard to bring the tiny NZ army in line with the more capable formations it was fighting alongside and against, and some of the NZ units seem somewhat thrown together in haste (which they were) - I love the historicity of this game, and 'making do' as they had to, and trying to succeed with a less formidable force, without taking unnecessary casualties (as they did), is one of the things I find most fun.

3) Others

The Free French are a great side to play - they almost feel like a Napoleonic army of light infantry and light cavalry (they're a lightweight force overall). Likewise, the Indians are fun, and the Sikhs look great. I haven't played the Italians for a while (I don't really enjoy playing against the 'good guys'), but they have a strangely interesting mix of units, with some severe limitations, but some interesting strengths including some very good armoured cars.

 

I'm not going to argue that the Commonwealth and other minor nationalities are 'better' than than the US army - the US forces have tremendous company-level firepower - and certainly not than the Wehrmacht (although I seldom play the Germans even in CMRT), just that I find the 'underdog' nations more fun. :)

And it makes you respect them. I only one or two obscure relatives in the war, no direct ancestors, but they did what they did with what they had, it wasn't easy but they ultimately succeeded, and trying to simulate that is immensely enjoyable.

 

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To fight British Commonwealth, you must admire the guys. Lee Enfield .303 much the same as the weapon in WW 1 as is the Vickers. The Churchill very much a WW 1 Infantry tank. With their tanks it was 1945 before they adopted the German Idea a modified 17 pounder in the Comet now a called a 77 mm Tank Gun. The Germans had the PAK 75 mm and put it in the Panzer IV and called it 75mm KwK. They did it in 1941-1942. Their artillery was superb we need an article of the 25-pounder field gun. The RAF had the Spitfire the Army the 25 Pounder. In the Netherlands there was a battle on the scale of Arnhem called the battle for Overloon. The British came to the rescue of the Americans, in final Blitzkrieg you can play the beginning of that battle a pity there is not the 2nd phase when the British took over. Meijel Mayhem is the start of it in Final Blitzkrieg. A platoon of Canadian Engineers took the town in the north of the country where my parents were at the time. They were all in the cellar when the Germans blew up the bridge, but the Canadians had their Bailey Bridge up in a matter of hours. Would make an interesting small battle but the Germans had bought time to get away. 3 weeks later WW 2 ended. 

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It is interesting to play the Brits and the Commonwealth. Between their manpower shortages in the latter stages of WWII, the lack of squad-level firepower, and the tinker-shop nature of so many of their vehicles, they're quite the challenge. They force the player to marshal one's support, maneuver to advantage, and cautiously feel out the approaches. A squad made up of 2+2+3-man teams is not very good for assaulting. Contrast that with the CMSF2 USMC squads. 

But, that makes it all the more satisfying when your PIAT takes out the two PzIVs blocking the road. (Yes, SPOILER REDACTED I'm looking at you!)

 

This is THE overriding strength of the vision Battlefront has executed with the Combat Mission series: showing how TOE has such an effect on tactics and combat effectiveness. 

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8 hours ago, JoMc67 said:

and also like playing the Underdogs...Like Germans 

Heh...  That was my immediate thought as well.  For most of the war the Germans were the underdogs drowning in a sea of Allied economic power and mass production.  As a result I find the German side to be far more interesting for the exact same reasons that Freyberg lists - the Germans have to be flexible and fight "smarter" to win.

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1 hour ago, Warts 'n' all said:

So the Firefly from 1944 is a figment of BFC's imagination?

 
 
 

It was an AT gun in a tank not a dedicated tank-gun. 2 pounder, 6 pounder and 17 pounder good on the day for brewing up tanks, but not too good if they needed an HE round. 75 mm PAK and the 75 mm Kwk 75 mm were similar but not the same. I think the 77 mm was a good compromise between a tank-gun and a AT gun. A shame the Comet was not in production by the time of Normandy. Let me wish you a very happy New Year. Discussions would be boring if we all have the same opinion. 

Edited by chuckdyke
spelling mistake.
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4 hours ago, Erwin said:

Heh...  That was my immediate thought as well.  For most of the war the Germans were the underdogs drowning in a sea of Allied economic power and mass production.

Surely a wargamer only notices that in an operational level game?

4 hours ago, Erwin said:

As a result I find the German side to be far more interesting for the exact same reasons that Freyberg lists - the Germans have to be flexible and fight "smarter" to win.

I always find the Germans tend to turn up with the right tools to do the job.

Felt that way since my Squad Leader days.

Always remember it said in the notes that they included all those American vehicles as to turn up without a load of trucks and jeeps would be, frankly, "unamerican". I just wondered where I was supposed to park them all. 😉

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1 minute ago, John1966 said:

I always find the Germans tend to turn up with the right tools to do the job.

Felt that way since my Squad Leader days.

Agreed John, me too.  However they often turn up with not enough of the tools, and that is perhaps a reflection of the econonic and other more strategic factors.

I almost always play as the Germans by the way if that's a valid option for the scenario (or the subject faction of a campaign).

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I also think of the Germans as the underdogs, and not only because of the strategic situation. At least in CM quick battles, I find the German OOB is quite mediocre compared to the American one. The US has faster artillery call times, better rifles, much cheaper (and arguably better) medium tanks, and higher quality light armour. Oh, and extremely cheap air power.

German heavy tanks are good, but generally held back by their rarity. The only thing the Germans really got going for them is the Panther, which has rarity zero. So I find the whole German approach VS the US is to go all-in on Panthers. Against the British, things are different because the Fireflies pretty much negate the German heavy tank advantage.

Scenarios are of course a different thing, but most German scenarios I played also cast the Germans as underdogs - for historical reasons of course.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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On 12/30/2020 at 12:27 PM, chuckdyke said:

Meijel Mayhem is the start of it in Final Blitzkrieg. A platoon of Canadian Engineers took the town in the north of the country where my parents were at the time. 

Although you probably know, Meijel / Overloon are not in the north of our country but rather in the south ;-). I'd imagine more battles about this and (!) the Schelde battle will be featured more when the next module for CMFB arrives, including the commonwealth forces.

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19 minutes ago, Lethaface said:

Although you probably know, Meijel / Overloon are not in the north of our country but rather in the south ;-). I'd imagine more battles about this and (!) the Schelde battle will be featured more when the next module for CMFB arrives, including the commonwealth forces.

 

I know I was jumping subjects. I should have explained it. The town was Bolsward in Friesland and had nothing to do with Overloon. The Peel region near the border of Limburg and Braband. We migrated in the mid 60's, the allies ended up liberating the Netherlands from Germany of all places. There was also an engagement near a place called Delfzijl in the province of Groningen. Bolsward is a nice little place and the house of my uncle was in Harlingen Straat about 100 meters from the bridge. Dad was thrown down the stairs because of the explosion. Later everybody was in a good mood and my older brother tucked in a piece of Roast Beef from a Canadian field kitchen he was 10 months old. I wanted to visit this year but Covid threw a spanner in the works. 

Edited by chuckdyke
spelling mistake.
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I dont see how the germans could be considered to be the underdog in quick battles.

Their OOB is simply better than the americans. I rarely cut or add anything to german infantry units but find myself doctoring the americans around until im basiacally left with a german unit in american uniforms.

Their infantry has more firepower and since a large chunk of it comes from the mg42 german infantry units tend to dropp far less firepower as they take casualties. They also have the best at weapons.

Their tanks are as good as anyones and if youre buying panther and up youre completely dominating open ground to the point that more open maps are practically guaranteed wins for the germans.

Their only real downsides are that arty is less responsive than the americans, they have fewer radios and rarity can limit your choices.

 

I think its quite telling that in the scenarios and campaigns ive played so far the americans tend to bring a reinforced company to attack a platoon while the germans get a depleated company to attack a reinforced one with both scenarios carrying the expectation of winning.

 

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14 minutes ago, holoween said:

Their infantry has more firepower and since a large chunk of it comes from the mg42

The MG42 is not all that good. At least the way it's modelled in CM. The LMG can't really hit anything beyond 300m. While the LMG42 is the best LMG in the game, it's actually only slightly better than the Bren. I don't find it really means anything in a combined arms battle.

14 minutes ago, holoween said:

since a large chunk of it comes from the mg42 german infantry units tend to dropp far less firepower as they take casualties.

My experience is the opposite. The MG guy usually gets hit very fast, and then the rest of the squad is near useless, while the US squads keep most of their firepower.

 

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Just now, Bulletpoint said:

The MG42 is not all that good. The LMG can't really hit anything beyond 300m. It's only slightly better than the Bren.

My experience is the opposite. The MG guy usually gets hit very fast, and then the rest of the squad is useless, while the US squads keep most of their firepower.

 

The MG 42 is an area or suppressing weapon and the downside is it ammunition consumption and the spare barrels required. The American 60 mm mortar usually deals with this weapon very effectively. You're 100 % correct once it is dealt with the Germans end up with a WW 1 squad vs an American WW 2 squad. The Bren is more useful in the attack. Ammunition consumption is acceptable and for a machinegun too accurate if you want to find something wrong with it. Both the Bren and the MG 42 had their modern versions. 

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11 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

The MG42 is not all that good. At least the way it's modelled in CM. The LMG can't really hit anything beyond 300m. While the LMG42 is the best LMG in the game, it's actually only slightly better than the Bren. I don't find it really means anything in a combined arms battle.

My experience is the opposite. The MG guy usually gets hit very fast, and then the rest of the squad is near useless, while the US squads keep most of their firepower.

 

Ive never expected small arms including lmgs to make hits passt 200m and simply supressing they do fine. For killing at range there are heavy weapoons.

MG gunnerl like leaders arent really much more commonly hit they just get remembered more.

 

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6 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I believe MG gunners do get hit more. Because they fire more rounds and therefore get spotted more.

ive only seen one test of it so far where someone kept track of all casualties during a scenario and there was no noticable effect.

And at the ranges where i could see your point a possibility it isnt a big deal because then you do have time to salvage the mg.

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1 hour ago, holoween said:

Their OOB is simply better than the americans. I rarely cut or add anything to german infantry units but find myself doctoring the americans around until im basiacally left with a german unit in american uniforms.

Agreed the German equipment seems better and if you are creating your own QB's that can be an advantage.  In designed scenarios however, the Germans tend to be the underdogs since the Allies are generally given much more stuff.

Also, my understanding re MG42 effectiveness is that while ammo consumption is an issue, it is still superior to the Bren since the Bren has an even bigger ammo problem - the mags contain only 20(?) bullets.  The MG42 can keep firing while the Bren has to reload.  Easier to have a five hundred rounds on 5 belts than 25 mags to reload.  The Bren is supposedly very accurate and the (Netflix) movie "Siege of Jadotville" has a significant plot point where it is used as a sniper weapon.  (So, that is definitive!)

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