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Experience of the soviet troops in the US campaign


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Hi,

I wonder why are the soviet troops often with higher experience than the US troops? Soviet are crack/veteran and US are regular.

Is this only for the purposes of gameplay or is there a historical precedent? I understand the case for the NTC-campaign but not for the regular campaigns.

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1 minute ago, scarletto said:

Experience from Afghanistan? More training experience with live ammo?

How about Vietnam then? Comparable to Afghanistan in many ways. Experience but maybe not the right type for general European war. 

I have been under the impression US had a generally better (or atleast more recently) trained army than the soviet counterpart. Professional(with draft) vs conscript. 

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I'm sure the campaign author will chime in - can't remember who it was but I'm pretty sure they will confirm that the experience setting is a gameplay design mechanism rather than a reflection of Afghanistan experience or whatever.  Bearing in mind that the Soviet Army was mostly conscript, the majority of the unlucky non-commissioned troops that got sent there would have been discharged after their tours ... if they survived them of course.  Generally, there is certainly a case for more experienced soft ratings for some of the officers based on some going to Afghanistan at some point and the fact that career officers would receive more than adequate training during their careers. 

For those interested in scenario design, I would be looking in the range Conscript - Veteran for the Soviets.  There were two conscript intakes a year that would arrive at their units in Germany around November and May annually.   As the new soldiers arrived, the term expired ones would depart and discharge to the reserve.  This process averaged out as each unit losing about a quarter of its trained strength in favour of a quarter of new arrivals.  If you apply the principle of quarters then at any given time a unit could conceivably have (using CM experience nomenclature):

  • 1/4 Conscript (new arrivals in their first six months of service).
  • 1/4 Green soldiers with 6-12 months of service who will have completed at least one training cycle to include collective training up to divisional level.
  • 1/2 Regular soldiers with 12-24 months of service who will have completed two training cycles to include collective training up to divisional level.

Save your veteran ratings for a couple of selected leaders.

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11 minutes ago, The_MonkeyKing said:

I wonder if the game was made to represent soviets accurately why would the games main campaign creator see it necessary to bump up the experience level of the soviets to unrealistic levels?

 

I'd rather have a campaign that works as intended due to those factors rather than one that was a dud.  I never really get excited or completely bound by experience levels or their labels - ultimately this is a game and if it isn't playable because the Soviets were all conscripts or whatever then that is an epic fail.  The campaign tested well and feedback so far on the boards seems to be good.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Combatintman said:

the experience setting is a gameplay design mechanism rather than a reflection of Afghanistan experience

Indeed, in the context of scenarios tailored for a single-player perspective (i.e. the campaigns) it makes perfect sense to use gameplay parameters to drive the gameplay for the player, rather than be representative of real-world realities. Scenarios meant to be played from either side or multiplayer is a different story, in my opinion.

24 minutes ago, The_MonkeyKing said:

I wonder if the game was made to represent soviets accurately why would the games main campaign creator see it necessary to bump up the experience level of the soviets to unrealistic levels?

It's part of the simulation abstraction.

For example, in the first mission of the US campaign ("Racing The Moon") the US player is not at all meant to fight and eradicate the OPFOR, since the scenario depicts US forces pulling back from a rapidly advancing vast Soviet force. In theory there is an entire Soviet division pushing into the area, however it is unreasonable from a scenario design perspective to keep adding ever increasing amounts of OPFOR reinforcements (and creating complex coordinated AI plans) on the off-chance the US player manages to hold off the first wave. 

Instead, an abstraction has to be made - in this case setting OPFOR units to "Crack" experience - in order to represent an overwhelming force. The alternative (flooding the game map with Soviet battalions and expecting the AI to make use of them) would end up being far more "unrealistic".

Edited by Roter Stern
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51 minutes ago, The_MonkeyKing said:

I wonder if the game was made to represent soviets accurately why would the games main campaign creator see it necessary to bump up the experience level of the soviets to unrealistic levels?

 

Well I think I can answer some of these questions.  First off, let me say that the experience levels in-game are already a pretty soft concept to begin with, so trying to figure out what a "realistic" experience level is for anyone side is accepting a level of abstraction from the start.

So first, the in-game context as outlined by the backstory.  This is a desperate Soviet gambit, they are on a very tight schedule to break through West Germany as quickly as possible before the West can 1) move reinforcements to theatre or 2) collectively decide on a nuclear response.  As such the Soviets are going to put good troops in the initial attacks (as seen in the Soviet Campaign) and their best troops in the break out, which occurs during the US Campaign.  So basically these are the best troops the Soviets have in the entire theatre in this break out push down Route 66 to the Rhine (that is why you see T80s later).  This fits with Soviet doctrine, as well as the strategic/operational picture on the ground.  

The US side is different.  The US put its best troops (in this region, the 11th ACR and 3rd Armd) forward as a screen and held second ech in depth.  This makes sense as the strategy was not an offensive breakthrough but attrition and delay until the West could build mass (or agree on WMDs).  In the US Campaign the player has troops from the 8th Inf Div, that was very deliberate as this division was always considered a depth division in the grand scheme of things.  It had lead elements forward but that is not the 28th Inf Regt, which was actually based west of Frankfurt.  That is why the 28th get M60A1s and not A3s to M1s and is also reflected in troop quality - went with Regular-High-Fit.

So right off the bat, in this what-if universe (remember this is a fictional timeline) there would likely be qualitative disparity between Soviet break out forces and in-depth US ones as portrayed in the campaign due to strategic/operational context.  Now how does that translate to CM?  Good question, probably closer to Reg-Vet, but considering that the vast majority of combatants on both sides have never seen combat and none/very few (perhaps some that observed the Arab Israeli conflict) have ever seen mechanized warfare on this scope and scale, we would realistically be seeing a whole lotta shades of Green.

Then there is play balancing.  The campaign is single player, which means that a human brain is playing a machine.  As strong as the Tac AI is in CM it cannot compare to a human player, so to offset this very real abstraction, a level of tweaking had to be done to make things challenging.  So for some scenarios we went with Crack Soviet troops to ensure that the very unrealistic fact that this is not two human players did not throw things out of whack too far.

Hope that answers your question somewhat.

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6 minutes ago, The_Capt said:

Well I think I can answer some of these questions.  First off, let me say that the experience levels in-game are already a pretty soft concept to begin with, so trying to figure out what a "realistic" experience level is for anyone side is accepting a level of abstraction from the start.

So first, the in-game context as outlined by the backstory.  This is a desperate Soviet gambit, they are on a very tight schedule to break through West Germany as quickly as possible before the West can 1) move reinforcements to theatre or 2) collectively decide on a nuclear response.  As such the Soviets are going to put good troops in the initial attacks (as seen in the Soviet Campaign) and their best troops in the break out, which occurs during the US Campaign.  So basically these are the best troops the Soviets have in the entire theatre in this break out push down Route 66 to the Rhine (that is why you see T80s later).  This fits with Soviet doctrine, as well as the strategic/operational picture on the ground.  

The US side is different.  The US put its best troops (in this region, the 11th ACR and 3rd Armd) forward as a screen and held second ech in depth.  This makes sense as the strategy was not an offensive breakthrough but attrition and delay until the West could build mass (or agree on WMDs).  In the US Campaign the player has troops from the 8th Inf Div, that was very deliberate as this division was always considered a depth division in the grand scheme of things.  It had lead elements forward but that is not the 28th Inf Regt, which was actually based west of Frankfurt.  That is why the 28th get M60A1s and not A3s to M1s and is also reflected in troop quality - went with Regular-High-Fit.

So right off the bat, in this what-if universe (remember this is a fictional timeline) there would likely be qualitative disparity between Soviet break out forces and in-depth US ones as portrayed in the campaign due to strategic/operational context.  Now how does that translate to CM?  Good question, probably closer to Reg-Vet, but considering that the vast majority of combatants on both sides have never seen combat and none/very few (perhaps some that observed the Arab Israeli conflict) have ever seen mechanized warfare on this scope and scale, we would realistically be seeing a whole lotta shades of Green.

Then there is play balancing.  The campaign is single player, which means that a human brain is playing a machine.  As strong as the Tac AI is in CM it cannot compare to a human player, so to offset this very real abstraction, a level of tweaking had to be done to make things challenging.  So for some scenarios we went with Crack Soviet troops to ensure that the very unrealistic fact that this is not two human players did not throw things out of whack too far.

Hope that answers your question somewhat.

I appreciate the answer, I figured it would be to artificially turn up the difficulty as you mentioned. I was curious though, when making the campaign did you guys ever try making some of the scenarios with more realistic veterancy levels for the Soviets? Or just start making them with crack troops straight off the bat. Who knows, maybe the campaign would've been plenty difficult with more "realistic" veterancy levels.

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Just now, Gkenny said:

I appreciate the answer, I figured it would be to artificially turn up the difficulty as you mentioned. I was curious though, when making the campaign did you guys ever try making some of the scenarios with more realistic veterancy levels for the Soviets? Or just start making them with crack troops straight off the bat. Who knows, maybe the campaign would've been plenty difficult with more "realistic" veterancy levels.

I started with them closer to parity, again Soviets slightly higher, and then through playtesting we increased Soviet quality where it looked needed.  If anyone plays the US Campaign standalone scenarios as H2H, I would probably go in and tinker with the experience settings much closer to parity.

We really did it by feel, as opposed to any "realistic" metrics, largely because "realistic" metrics available were (and are) highly subjective.  The line in the West is that that the Soviets were largely nearly useless uneducated conscripts (which frankly has some truth) while NATO had highly educated professional armies.  The line in the USSR, was that the West was soft, weak and entitled (which frankly has some truth) while the troops of the Soviet Union were made of steel and sacrifice.  Which one is accurate?

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2 minutes ago, The_Capt said:

I started with them closer to parity, again Soviets slightly higher, and then through playtesting we increased Soviet quality where it looked needed.  If anyone plays the US Campaign standalone scenarios as H2H, I would probably go in and tinker with the experience settings much closer to parity.

We really did it by feel, as opposed to any "realistic" metrics, largely because "realistic" metrics available were (and are) highly subjective.  The line in the West is that that the Soviets were largely nearly useless uneducated conscripts (which frankly has some truth) while NATO had highly educated professional armies.  The line in the USSR, was that the West was soft, weak and entitled (which frankly has some truth) while the troops of the Soviet Union were made of steel and sacrifice.  Which one is accurate?

I agree, it would be hard to really get an accurate judge of relative troop qualities, and it would probably vary depending on recruiting cycles and the individual units themselves. Regardless, thanks for the insight.

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Posted (edited)

Experience levels are a long-standing problem of wargame design, since that kind of thing started to be modelled.

The classic example is the 101st on D-Day - should they be "Veteran" to account for their better training, or "Green", since this was the first time they saw combat? Both answers are viable, depending on what system you're using to model this. Typically in CM they'd be Veteran, but that's not necessarily true for everything ever.

Soft factors are not an objective measure (unlike armour penetration or rate of fire), so any modelling of something subjective is going to have an inherently subjective outcome.

"Artificially inflating the difficulty" is the least charitable way of saying that. Scenario design is game design, and game design is harder than people think it is. The map, forces and soft factors are all altered to produce the desired outcome. This is especially true for historical scenarios, because you have a real outcome that you'd like to see on-screen.

For example, if you're doing the opening Desert Storm, you'd need to set Iraqi motivation to awful, because taking thousands of surrenders is a major part of that narrative. There's no table you can look up to show what level of experience and motivation the Iraqi soldiers should have historically, but you can start with the intended outcome and work backwards, tweaking things to suit. This is the essence of "Design for Effect", and you'll see it up and down wargame design.

So, yes, I haven't played through enough of the campaigns (or scenarios) yet to get cross at anything specific, but you will see a range of soft factors, in every CM title, even when representing the same forces. Call this "artificially inflating the difficulty" if you like, but it's really just modelling the scenario.

It's viable to take exception to the choices made in modelling the scenario, naturally, but "these troops should be +1 leadership" is not really firm ground to stand on - the definitions of each soft factor and how that pertains to the real world is subjective and fluffy.

Edited by domfluff
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You go back to WW1 the British started with the best professional army on the continent but no experience. A year later green troops were the replacements. I think the same would have happened with the Soviets in the hypothetical WW3 scenario. 

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1 hour ago, chuckdyke said:

You go back to WW1 the British started with the best professional army on the continent but no experience. A year later green troops were the replacements. I think the same would have happened with the Soviets in the hypothetical WW3 scenario. 

The Sov would have the advantage in that everyone medically capable would have been through their initial military training. The older conscript troops wouldn't have had recent experience or the most modern weapons, but they wouldn't be starting from scratch like the Brits were in WWI. 

 

H

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7 hours ago, domfluff said:

classic example is the 101st on D-Day - should they be "Veteran" to account for their better training, or "Green", since this was the first time they saw combat?

IIRC, the designers can give the troops high factors in all other areas, eg: very fit with high morale etc., but still Green.

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9 hours ago, The_Capt said:

I started with them closer to parity, again Soviets slightly higher, and then through playtesting we increased Soviet quality where it looked needed.  If anyone plays the US Campaign standalone scenarios as H2H, I would probably go in and tinker with the experience settings much closer to parity.

We really did it by feel, as opposed to any "realistic" metrics, largely because "realistic" metrics available were (and are) highly subjective.  The line in the West is that that the Soviets were largely nearly useless uneducated conscripts (which frankly has some truth) while NATO had highly educated professional armies.  The line in the USSR, was that the West was soft, weak and entitled (which frankly has some truth) while the troops of the Soviet Union were made of steel and sacrifice.  Which one is accurate?

Compare Desert Storm to the Russian Battle of Grozny. Roughly the same timeframe. How did each perform?

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8 minutes ago, civdiv said:

Compare Desert Storm to the Russian Battle of Grozny. Roughly the same timeframe. How did each perform?

You do realize the collapse of the Soviet Union occured between the game's timeframe and those events, right? Not to mention all of the other differences...

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2 minutes ago, Gkenny said:

You do realize the collapse of the Soviet Union occured between the game's timeframe and those events, right? Not to mention all of the other differences...

Sorry but it is the closest ‘apples to apples’ I could come up with. It isn’t close to perfect but given the timeframe and countries involved it is the closest I could think of.

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12 minutes ago, civdiv said:

Sorry but it is the closest ‘apples to apples’ I could come up with. It isn’t close to perfect but given the timeframe and countries involved it is the closest I could think of.

Well it really isn't apples to apples even in the time frame.  Grozny was something closer to hybrid warfare in a dense urban setting with the Russian military a shell of its former self.  Desert Storm was a large mechanized fight between two "peer" forces with the US at the top of its game...and the Iraqi's who were frankly bafflingly bad.  

In reality Gulf War probably gives enough of a hint at where things would have stood in a late 80s fight but in 82 things were very different.  The US was still rebuilding in the post-Vietnam era.  Goldwater Nicols had not passed yet and Airland Battle was in its infancy.  The US definitely did not have either a quantitative or qualitative edge yet.  As to troop quality comparisons, again really hard to do, there isn't much point to it really as it becomes a philosophical discussion really.  You can argue both sides without a definitive answer, so we have best guessing and play balance considerations at the end.  

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2 minutes ago, The_Capt said:

Well it really isn't apples to apples even in the time frame.  Grozny was something closer to hybrid warfare in a dense urban setting with the Russian military a shell of its former self.  Desert Storm was a large mechanized fight between two "peer" forces with the US at the top of its game...and the Iraqi's who were frankly bafflingly bad.  

In reality Gulf War probably gives enough of a hint at where things would have stood in a late 80s fight but in 82 things were very different.  The US was still rebuilding in the post-Vietnam era.  Goldwater Nicols had not passed yet and Airland Battle was in its infancy.  The US definitely did not have either a quantitative or qualitative edge yet.  As to troop quality comparisons, again really hard to do, there isn't much point to it really as it becomes a philosophical discussion really.  You can argue both sides without a definitive answer, so we have best guessing and play balance considerations at the end.  

My comparison isn’t perfect as I have admitted, but can you give me a better comparison given the topic?

Israeli conflicts against countries using Soviet tactics?

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, civdiv said:

My comparison isn’t perfect as I have admitted, but can you give me a better comparison given the topic?

Israeli conflicts against countries using Soviet tactics?

To answer the question of "troop quality" between the US and Soviet in and around the late 70s/early 80s?  Not really...that is kind of my point.  I mean the only conflicts of note to see US and Soviet involvement were Vietnam and Afghanistan and neither were 1) the same, or 2) a resounding success.  All those prove is that big conventional militaries suck at COIN...not a real surprise there.  It also shows that troop quality for both superpowers in these conflicts was poor; both sent largely conscripts and dumped mountains of hardware on the problem.

That said, both the Russians and US were capable of producing excellent troops as was demonstrated in WWII (Soviets in the East and US in the Pacific). In the timeframe of the game I would probably give the tactics and operational edge to the Soviets.  They were playing an old rulebook but had mastered it.  The US was in transition and hadn't a good grasp of their former or new strategies yet.  Hardware was again at parity, with definite edge to the Soviets on mass.  

I guess the answer is that both sides were capable of pushing out excellent-to-'ok'-to-poor troops so any and all combinations/matchups are probably on the menu depending on the context of the fight.  

Edited by The_Capt
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7 hours ago, Halmbarte said:

they wouldn't be starting from scratch like the Brits were in WWI. 

 

They were capable of the 'Mad Minute'. Here is the record The first Mad Minute record was set by Sergeant Major Jesse Wallingford in 1908, scoring 36 hits on a 48-inch target at 300 yards. It's something people with a semi auto rifle would have trouble with. I am sure you would agree that to empty a magazine of an M16 at 300 yards on the upper torso inside a minute is even nowadays ok. In 1914 experts could do it nowadays a decently trained rifle man should be able to do it. That is 2 seconds per shot. By 1915 infantry tactics were a numbers game. 

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14 hours ago, The_MonkeyKing said:

How about Vietnam then?

In Vietnam by the end, the US front line soldiers were smoking joints and smoking their officers, and they would have left post haste.  Also Vietnam was counter insurgency, not usually vs main force peer competitor....and soliders rotate in and out of the military pretty fast so skiils always have to be re-acquired

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