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Recommended game for starting "small" and to gradually progress?


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Hello guys,

first of all, i'm new here so i whish you all the best for 2021, stay healthy! Second, i apologize if this topic was brought up before but i didn't find anything similar on the forums.

So my story in (rather not) short:

I'm 36 yo, just had a newborn last september, a vivid PC gamer who likes WWII settings (mostly). I went through them all starting with Medal of Honor and CoD series, through BiA to more serious titles like ArmA, Squad or Post Scriptum. I'm not a WWII's weapons, armor or strategy/tactics guru but i've watched many documentaries and somehow while getting older and older i was getting more interested in tactics of small squads, platoons and whatever.

I really fell in love with CoH2 and i'm still playing it to this day, but i think i'm getting too old as i can't keep up with the other players and overall pace of the game is just getting too fast for me while at the same time, playing against the AI using PAUSE is really easy even on the hardest difficulty. So i've started to look around for a slower, maybe deeper game, that is still immersive enough. I remembered Sudden Strike from my childhood days, but after playing it together with Blitzkrieg series i see they're not what i'm looking for.

Steel Division .. the first game was not the best thing i remember but i found SD2 to be a much better game for me for one reason - smart orders. I really like their try on Operational side of war mixed with realtime battles in the campaign and i think the 2 is a really big step forward but still .. the overall size of the army is so overwhelming that most of the time my forces end up in chaos.

I've also tried TBS games like Panzer Corps and for a while it was a nice change but then again .. i found it to be too much abstract to what i really want to see or play (still looking on HoI from time to time, but i really would not play games like that for a long time).

So i end up looking on 3 games that i tend to not like that much to buy them in the past but now it looked like they're really my only options now.

Close Combat .. after i couldn't get over the graphics and top down view iof Last Stand Arnhem, i bought The Bloody First .. went through manuals for both games ... it looked like a perfect recipe for my taste ...  but it just didn't clicked for me .. i really don't know why i felt like all of that was happening was just abstract like in those turn based titles .. really couldn't get into it.

Graviteam ... all of this had already started last winter when i bought Mius Front .. this year i bought Tunisia 43 .. i was trying hard .. but going through the weird manuals and trying to learn everything .. i just didn't had the time and patience for it .. again i really liked the mix of operational phase mixed with realtime battles ... it's just the learning curve of the mechanics and UI that i just don't have the time to learn. I don't know .. maybe next year?

Combat Mission ... the last series on my list .. i was on the fence multiple times ... tried all the demos but was put down by the price and updates politics vs the graphics ... but now ... NOW it all comes to what is important to me .. and that's a slow paced, turn based tactics game on a platoon or company level that's trying to simulate tactics and all the nuanses of WW2.

Battle for Normandy, Red Thunder, Final Blitzkrieg.

I've played all the demos and can't tell if i like one over the other one. If it's western or eastern front, summer or winter, doesn't mean too much to me. From modding perspecitve and overall "best value for the buck" CMBN looks like the best deal. But i have a different question for you seasoned veterans.

What if i like to start small? What do i mean you ask? Well .. i don't want to be overwhelmed with big scale attacks of 1-3 companies or end up defending with 2-3 battalions in my first few missions. I would really like to start small .. maybe commanding just a small squad in a bigger battle .. if that won't be possible .. which game has the best introductory campaign to the game itself and gives the least amount of troops under your command gradually in small steps (mission after mission)?

So folks, this is my question. I don't really want to buy a game that would let me command a battalion, when i really don't know how to do it correctly on a squad or even a platoon level, if you know what i'm saying.

Sorry for the wall of text but i thought you should know the background, where i'm coming from. Hope you can understand and i'm really looking forward to your advice.

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Oh buddy, you're in the right place. I am new to Combat Mission as well, but oh my god, am I ever glad to have found it.  Never been able to get into RTS games, they often look kind of neat, but

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT You press that button, Zloba, and you’re a goner! You don’t think you’ve had enough sleep now, but wait until you start really playing.  Your addiction will only grow,

It might be sooner than you think actually. After i'm finished with the tutorial campaings i'll have a look on the Battle Drill Tactical Problems, where i saw some PBEM scenarios. And i'm really looki

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My opinion:
CM Shock Force 2 is a good all-rounder. You dip you toe into 'modern war' (about 2008-ish) and the opponent is a generation of weapons behind you so the difficulty level's a bit lower. There's a number of smaller scenarios (Company size or lower) 
CM Fortress Italy starts in 1943 so the overall lethality is dialed-down a bit.
CM Final Blitzkrieg is the middle of the pack. The opponents are more-or-less balanced.
CM Battle For Normandy is like CMFB except you're fighting in hedgerow country which makes life a bit more difficult for you. There are a number of under-Company-size scenarios in the title.
CM Black Sea is modern war (2017-ish) and is the most unforgiving of mistakes. But you've got cool toys to play with.

I've been playing the game forever and my ideal scenario is mixed force company size, or maybe a touch smaller. I hardly ever play those battalion-size monsters (other people prefer to go big).

Edited by MikeyD
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Although all titles have smaller battles, I think for the most smaller battles you'd be looking at CMBN all in one package. CMFI might be a good contender as well, with quite some campaigns. However none of the games feature the option to command only a squad by yourself in a larger battle. You are always able (and sort of required) to command all forces on your side.

Edit: and MikeyD is correct, if you're into Modern as well (which is great imo) than CMSF2 should probably be number one on your list. Many missions feature small but very powerful forces, fighting against larger less powerful enemies.

Edited by Lethaface
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I played SF2 demo and no thanks 😄 .. i'm really not into conflicts resolved from one corner of the map to another (please take this with a large amount of salt :)). I'm really interested in the WW2 titles. Just not sure which one would get me going slowly with the amount of forces to let me command ...

Another things are the Quick battles ... would i be able to make a custom QB with one squad vs one squad if i wanted to? Asking because i was really dissapointed by the way Close Combat: The Bloody First implemented custom battles into their game (whole platoon or nothing).

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Oh buddy, you're in the right place.

I am new to Combat Mission as well, but oh my god, am I ever glad to have found it.  Never been able to get into RTS games, they often look kind of neat, but the base building and whatnot are just not compelling for me. They may be good games, but realism takes a very, very distant backseat to creating an intense gaming experience, and honestly I'm neither good at them nor enjoy them.

I'm much more of a combat flight sim and FPS guy, and what I enjoy most in a game is its ability to allow me to use real life tactics as realistically as possible and achieve success with them. Whether or not it's a "game" matters almost nothing to me, and my ideal situation is a simulator that has as realistic of features as possible, and presents a sort of sandbox or toolkit you can use to create or at least experience a simulated vision of reality.

Well, after literal years of searching, I believe Combat Mission is exactly that, in terms of battalion level and smaller infantry and combined arms engagements.

I only found CM thanks to the Shock Force 2 listing on Steam, and stumbled across it pretty randomly. I was immediately captivated by the mechanics of the game engine, even though the modern setting wasn't really my thing. Like you, I prefer the WWII setting. Curious, I searched Battlefront, and realized that, in addition to Shock Force 2, they had a whole WWII line. I immediately downloaded the Battle for Normandy demo and was super impressed.

Granted, the price is not inexpensive, and the graphics are serviceable though obviously dated. But I really got impressed when I tried out the Roadblock scenario - I was amazed. It was like everything I'd been looking for in a tactical combat simulation, but had never been able to find. While CM veterans probably find that scenario to be a dawdle, I was really pushed to learn the mechanics, and I really got immersed and invested in the engagement. When I ultimately prevailed - with relatively modest casualties - I was so pleased. What an incredible sim this is!

Then I found the Assault on Brecourt Manor scenario and oh man... talk about wish fulfillment! Getting to assault those gun positions was amazing. I got inspired and downloaded some free mods from TheFewGoodMen.com to get proper 101st Airborne uniforms and Lucky Strike's very nice "Hedgerow Hell" scenery upgrades. This lead me to getting under the hood in the Scenario Editor (so I could apply the correct uniforms to the units), and checking out not only the preset scenarios and campaigns, but also the Quick Battles and Map Editor, and I really fell in love. There's also a very comprehensive manual that ships with the game and reminds me of game manuals of yore - it's got tons of great info, and explains very clearly how to use the tool to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Over the past couple days, I got inspired to recreate the "German Hedgerow Defense" diagram from Captain Doubler's famous "Busting the Bocage" essay about hedgerow fighting in Normandy. From a cold start, I was able to use the Scenario Editor - with minimal confusion or pain - to setup a roughly 200 x 200 meter field, with German machinegun emplacements, some farmhouses, and similar. I created a US infantry company with a two rifle platoons, a weapons platoon (with MMGs and medium mortars) and attached a couple Sherman M4s for support. Wow! What fun I've had learning how to move across a large open field.

This, to me, is what makes Combat Mission so great. There are a wide range of settings depicted across the various offerings, and your ability to customize the experience you want is nearly unlimited. Want to simulate a single rifle squad taking on clearing a building? You can do it. Want to simulate a battalion or large engagement? You can do that, too. It's really up to you, and the editor is *so easy* to use, it makes it relatively simple - and FUN!

I haven't even dipped my toe into multiplayer yet, either - but oh gosh, Combat Mission is like the ultimate replacement for my miniature wargaming collection. It's much cheaper, has much more accurate rules, and doesn't require any assembly or painting or physical storage.

I'm just over the moon with this find, and I'm so glad it exists. I hope you give it a shot, because despite the high price relative to other video games, this is the real deal! It's probably my favorite software purchase of 2020.

Anyways, wishing you the best of luck!

hedgerow_defense.jpg

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4 minutes ago, Zloba said:

Another things are the Quick battles ... would i be able to make a custom QB with one squad vs one squad if i wanted to? Asking because i was really dissapointed by the way Close Combat: The Bloody First implemented custom battles into their game (whole platoon or nothing).

Yes, when making QB's you can adjust the the platoons down to squads just a squad by deleting what you don't want. CMBN is the game you want and get all the modules with it as that is the most complete and there are tons of scenarios.

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Welcome @Zloba.  I started with Red Thunder, but Battle for Normandy sounds like it might be a better choice for you to start with.  You may end up getting them all like me (at least the WW2 ones) 😉.  And by the way, your comment on not knowing how to do it correctly - don't worry about that, who does when they start?  Certainly not me, I'm still learning the hard way for sure 😁.

@surfimp you have been busy!

Edited by Vacilllator
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I'm going to put in a shout for Fortress Italy, it's a great game and the 'feel' of the scenarios changes very distinctly from Sicily to the Gustav Line, possibly more so than in any other title.  B)

PS - In truth though the CM:BN Big Bundle is probably your best bet if you can afford it.....So much content!  

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead
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My recommendation would be to pick the one that is the theater that most interests you. Guaranteed that's where you'll have the most fun.

BN has the most content of the 3 (BN, FI, FB), if you include the expansions all at once. FI is second with the expansions. FB last (no expansions yet but coming eventually).

ALL titles when you are in the main menu and select "Battle"  (an individual scenario), you can order them by ascending size, which is really nice, if you are just looking for a quick getting started scenario or two. 

Also, Quick Battles can be selected anywhere from Tiny to Huge both for map size and force size. You can either select the type of map (open, village, town, forest, etc) or pick the map manually from a list. The automatic force picker for the AI can proved some "interesting" results. It's much, much better than it was but you still may be better off picking both sides manually and then using it more as a study than a battle into the unknown. For your purposes though, that may be exactly what you'd like to start and experiment.

Hope this helps. 

Dave

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Your at the right place and the right game I'd say. 

 

The pace and replay value of the game in general. 

 

I've only just ventured in black sea demo and would agree it's harsh learning curve lol. 

I'd personally choose CM Normandy. Has been and still is great title.

 

Bubba

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If you like WW 2 I would go for Final Blitzkrieg. My reason infantry can ride on tanks which was widespread practice in WW2. I work my way through SF 2 as the modern stuff is fascinating for me. I am 70 years old soon I will be 71, I found CM realistic as you can apply real world tactics. I find it money well spent. If you buy the SF2 bundle for example it will keep you going for a couple of years. Yes, there is a learning curve and as your first games stick to the tutorial games. There are five different levels it will keep you busy. 

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Thanks everyone for the input, it helped a ton! So to sum it up:

- all games have some training tutorial missions which i can follow while reading the manual

- all games have the ability to create custom Quick Battles with custom maps and forces

- scenarios can be sorted by their size in all games

- CMBN Big Bundle has the best price/content value

Looking at the Big Bundle ... 110 EUR .. wow .. never paid for a "game" that much .. ever .. are the DLC's worth it? Do they add a campaign or is it about single scenarios? What about the units? Are they added to the original campaigns somehow or just to the DLC scenarios? Should i go for the units if i plan to use mods? Do most of the mods require the DLC's?

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What i would suggest when starting out...

Learn the ins and outs of setting up QB battles. Here you can quickly pick your desired forces as well as the terrain (map) to fight on.

You can start as small as you like and for learning purposes i suggest that you pick both your own and the AI forces...remember you don't have to use all the points avaliable to 'purchase' units...

If you want to...you can pick a single platoon on your side and a single squad on the enemy side....to start with.

Use these QB battles to try out any units you like to experiment with...and gradually increase the side of both forces.

I would further suggest to play these QB 'traning battles' both vs the AI and also HOTSEAT against youself. Playing hotseat against youself will allow you to see what effekt various weapons have against various targets at various distances and in various terrains.

It will further give you a feel for how FOG works in the game...what you will be able to see of the enemy and when.

Among other things I find these QB battles very quick and easy to set up to test how the various tanks stacks up vs eachother...

What kind of suppretion...and killingpower will the various weapons have...

What can i expect from the artillery of various calliber against various targets..

And welcome to the game...I belive you will become 'stuck' here...😁

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44 minutes ago, Zloba said:

Thanks everyone for the input, it helped a ton! So to sum it up:

- all games have some training tutorial missions which i can follow while reading the manual

- all games have the ability to create custom Quick Battles with custom maps and forces

- scenarios can be sorted by their size in all games

- CMBN Big Bundle has the best price/content value

Looking at the Big Bundle ... 110 EUR .. wow .. never paid for a "game" that much .. ever .. are the DLC's worth it? Do they add a campaign or is it about single scenarios? What about the units? Are they added to the original campaigns somehow or just to the DLC scenarios? Should i go for the units if i plan to use mods? Do most of the mods require the DLC's?

The DLC's are imo definitely worth it. Commonwealth module adds commonwealth faction and SS troops among other things. Market Garden adds terrain, paratrooper forces, among other things. The vehicle pack adds a bunch of more obscure vehicles (flame tanks, AVRE, Mine flail tanks) and the battle pack adds a campaign and some scenario's.
More info: https://www.battlefront.com/battle-for-normandy/

Personally I haven't played much of the battlepack yet, but I guess that's mainly because too much things to play.

Overall I can say that if you like the games you will get plenty of hours out of it. So $110,- might look expensive but the value you can get out of it is definitely worth it. 

Combined with user made scenario's and campaigns there is more content than you'll probably have time to play.

Edited by Lethaface
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1 hour ago, Zloba said:

Do they add a campaign or is it about single scenarios?  Both & plenty of them too.

What about the units?  IIRC Yes, those too (It's been a long time since I bought CM:BN and I bought it pretty much all at once).

Are they added to the original campaigns somehow or just to the DLC scenarios?  The latter AFAIK.

Should i go for the units if i plan to use mods?  It will give you more options for sure.

Do most of the mods require the DLC's?  That varies by mod, so always read the creator's description carefully

PS - My main advice.....Do not be afraid of the editor.  Your $110 will go many, many times futher once you are designing stuff for yourself (& us too, hopefully).

PPS - Welcome to the war!  ;)

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead
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2 hours ago, Zloba said:

Looking at the Big Bundle ... 110 EUR .. wow

Don't bother with spending that much on the first go. Just buy one of the base games and start with that.

Also, don't go into the editor or quick battles in the beginning. There's no reason to overcomplicate things with adding the editor to the already steep learning curve, and quick battles against the computer is like playing chess with a pigeon.

Play the tutorial campaign, and then some basic scenarios. That will keep you busy for a very long time. Then play your first campaign. These steps will keep you busy for months.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Just to be sure - there is currently no timed offer for the CMBN right? The $160 price tag is there to remind me how much i would pay if i bought everything separately? I just want to make sure i'll be using the additional content if i buy it so i want to look around a for bit longer before i decide, but i don't want to miss any good deals at the same time .. that would be a pitty 😄

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Personally, I compared the cost of the investment not against other video games but against tabletop miniatures gaming, since Combat Mission is much more analogous that that experience than most video games.

The $110 of the CMBN Big Bundle would get you a decent sized starter force for a single faction in a wargame like Bolt Action or Flames of War. Of course you'd need to buy terrain and paint and rulebooks and dice and tape measures and whatnot (meaning you'd likely spend more), and then of course you've got to actually put the stuff together and (ideally) paint it if you want to play a game. Which, after setting aside dozens of hours for the hobbying, requires you to either go to a game store or meet up with friends (let's just set aside the whole Covid thing for a moment, because eventually that will be over).

So, in contrast to that, the $110 for the CMBN bundle gets you a lot more. You get dozens of units across the Allied and Axis factions, encompassing regular infantry, airborne infantry, mechanized infantry, armor, artillery, and more. You get historical TO&Es for the date of the scenario you're playing. And you get some of the best rules I've ever experienced in a tactical-level wargame, which feel by all accounts to be very realistic. You get literally 700+ different "tables" to play on, many of which are sizes that would be impossible to play on if they were real life game board, unless you were happy to tromp all over your terrain. And access to a community of players around the world with whom you can play via email, meaning you don't have to go to the game store at all. And of course, the singleplayer content is plenty challenging for new players, and as others have said will likely keep you busy for a long time.

Anyways, we all have to make our own choices in these matters, but thinking of CMBN more as a tabletop miniatures game than a videogame is what helped me make up my mind. Sadly, now I fear that Combat Mission has made my miniatures collection rather obsolete!

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23 hours ago, surfimp said:

I hope you give it a shot, because despite the high price relative to other video games, this is the real deal!

Just as you wrote a CM-game is quite expensive. But all scenarios that come with the game, scenarios that can be downloaded from TheFewGoodMen website and scenarios that can be home made in the editor and also the quick battles we get with a game make sure we will have fun for a long time. And when we start playing against people with the pbem-system we will have even more fun.

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5 hours ago, BornGinger said:

Just as you wrote a CM-game is quite expensive. But all scenarios that come with the game, scenarios that can be downloaded from TheFewGoodMen website and scenarios that can be home made in the editor and also the quick battles we get with a game make sure we will have fun for a long time. And when we start playing against people with the pbem-system we will have even more fun.

It's so true! I'm having a literal blast (pardon the pun) just cooking up my own small, simple scenarios and messing around with them.

This evening, I threw together a King Tiger vs four Sherman scenario. Let's just say... it's not going well for the Americans, lol! I should probably try using actual tactics, haha.

Last night, I made a scenario to help me learn the mechanics for assaulting houses. I setup a German rifle squad in the house, with their mandatory HQ unit along, and the LMG in one of the upper windows. An American Glider squad with their HQ was outside, and I had to practice splitting the squad, using covering fire, and then running the assault unit up - but just outside, so they could fire in through the windows and throw grenades.

Very good way to learn how the game works, when you take it in tiny bite-sized pieces like that. And you can just create endless variations, it's tons of fun for someone like me, who enjoys the kind of tinkering that sandboxes like this provide.

welp.jpg

Edited by surfimp
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Posted (edited)

Something i noticed on the store page for FI, RT and FB:

Quote

 Except for special promotions we do not offer game specific manuals, so if you already have a current Game Engine Manual you're all set!

I'm pretty sure all the demos comes with game specific manuals. Do the full games really have only engine manual shipped with them?

And does the BN Big Bundle cost $110 regurarly, or is it some sort of winter sale (looking on the $160 which i'm not sure if it indicates the normal price or if it's there just to see the difference between full price of every module bought separately).

And thanks everyone again for being so helpful. I would like all your comments but the forum just doesn't let me to do it 😉

Edited by Zloba
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27 minutes ago, Zloba said:

Do the full games really have only engine manual shipped with them?

Aleast when i bought the games (at release) they came with the game engine manual as well as a short manual describing the new units that came with that particular game.

Pretty much everything you need to know is covered in the game engine manual.

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