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Opinons on Scenario Balance


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Hi Guys,

With the upcoming release of CM, I found myself wondering about the balance of scenarios, and the situations that could be attributed, to giving either an attacker or a defender, a SIGNIFICANT edge.

I plan on playing alot of games that are point style, and designing scenarios as well and I think CM is alot more indepth than CC2.

With this complex of a game I think hearing some views from others as to what conditions offer a distinct advantage (bar the obvious of course) Would be of great benefit when designing scenarios as well as playing.

I feel that certain conditions have a definitive advantage for the defender

here are a couple of examples

Attacking in the mud or snow

Attacking against Prepared defenses

etc..

Please add to this list As I would like to find out what alot of the HEAVY DUTY wargamers think and come up with a good list of significant examples

Thanks ahead for keeping this on topic smile.gif

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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SS;

I think you should post this topic again after the release of the game.

I personally will be interested in playing your scenarios. smile.gif

But I think we will have to wait and see how different troops in different environments react in the game.

Only then will we know the quirks of the battle field.

Hopefully, as BTS states, CM will be as realistic as an actual live battle field, where we can make the same descion in the game, as we would as commanders on an actual battle field. smile.gif

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Better to make the wrong decision than be the sorry son of a bitch to scared to make one at all

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Guest Scott Clinton

IMHO...

Balance is probably the single most over-rated thing in strategy games/wargames today.

RARELY did a historical force face a 'balanced' opposing force.

If you are concerned about balance the only way to be 100% sure (IMO, of course) is to allow the players full inspection of the scenario before play. And to play the game twice each player playing each side one time.

This of course removes much of the FOW (i.e. 'fun') from the game (not to mention the aspect of having to play the same person/scenario twice in a row).

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The Grumbling Grognard

[This message has been edited by Scott Clinton (edited 04-04-2000).]

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Scott,

THe only way to accurately gauge your worth against an opponent is by an evenly matched fight - Playing blind against an opponent twice will not accomplish this as the player that got the crap end of things will be at disadvantaged by several facts

1. He has seen the battlefield whilst playing a better force

2. He knows the terrain on your side of the map now and the best places for your attack to come

3. He knows what not to do after watching your mistakes

therefore being the second player to get the crappy side he holds a distinct edge - able to salvage a better loss at least out of the deal smile.gif

True displays of skill will be demonstrated in point style games IMHO where both players can view the map - all games will be blind because they purchase their stuff -

It takes additional strategical skill to be able to outbuy [size isnt everything smile.gif] your opponent and deploy that effectively

Historical Games generally prove nothing if unbalanced - they are simply a good time smile.gif

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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Guest Scott Clinton

SS

Please re-read my post. I specifically mention that the games can NOT be played blind (ie "full inspection").

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The Grumbling Grognard

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Guest Captain Foobar

I personally like the unbalanced situations. If the scenario is blind, and involving any dense terrain, you can hold your own against a superior force by choosing your battles carefully.

Good players will be able to win at a disadvantage, and Bad players will find ways to lose with the advantage. And then, when you throw in the luck and variables in a scenario, I figure it usually evens out. (Except in CE..DAMN THOSE STUG!!! hehe)

I hope that there will be ways in the scenario editor, to reward a player for doing more with less.

There will be a lot more specific to discuss, once we all have the FINAL GAME!!!!

Can you believe that we will have the GOLD DEMO IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS?????? AND THE CD AT THE END OF THE MONTH!!!????? biggrin.gifbiggrin.gif I never thought I'd make it.......

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Personally, I think that highly unbalanced scenarios can be fun, though not really against another player unless you want to get exterminated. What I mean is the sort of scenario you play against the AI to see if you can surmount insurmountable odds. For example, I intend to make a nice little scenario where the Germans are defending with about a company (highly experienced) plus a couple tanks - maybe less once I see how it plays. Then the Americans will have about a batallion, inexperienced, but with extensive support of all kinds. Unfortunately for them, the objective is on the other side of a ridgeline - not climbable except at a very few points (and very slow there) and the only route for vehicles is one narrow canyon. Should be fun, IMHO - though not as Germans since, with the terrain I have in mind, they should slaughter the attacker!

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Questions, comments, arguments, refutations, criticisms, and/or sea stories?

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Sometimes it is inevitable that you will lose the scenario given its unbalanced nature. The question then is how badly will you lose it. Will you conduct a well-organized fighting retreat or will you just get stomped into little pieces of poop and giblets.

Star Trek fans think Kobayashi maru - losing with style can be a good thing.

Joe

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Well I find it more of a challenge to play on the disadvantaged side personally. Trying to slow/halt large advances and generally piss of the other player who thinks this battle is going to be hellishly easy. Its amazing what a few well placed units, some expert strategy, and fog of war can do.

So I'll look forward to playing any of you decent players who find an unbalanced scenario, as the underdog, and making u pull whats left of your hair out smile.gif

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Guest hunt52

I personally plan to make scenarios that feature:

Us:

2 Greyhounds

2 60mm Mortars

2 Bazookas

2 Platoons Veteran Rifle

2 .50s

Germans:

4 Pz4s

2 Stug IIIs

2 MG 42s

2 Companies Green SS Motorized

With the US getting (maybe) a Stuart as reinforcements and the Germans getting at least 2 more AFVs and 1 more company.

Us on the defense in mountainous terrain in the fog and rain biggrin.gif

Germans have 2 approaches neither of which is viable - must hack through and capture a small town (3 or 4 buildings, only 1 two story)

- Billcool

[This message has been edited by hunt52 (edited 04-04-2000).]

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Scott - I agree they are fun against the AI smile.gif

But Im trying to find some common factors that woudl give either the attacker or the defender an edge - I stated two above I was hoping that with everyones extensive knowledge of wargaming we may be able to add to that list smile.gif

So any help to add to that would be greatly appreciated

again

I feel that the attacker is severly handicapped when attacking in snow/mud due to the fact he is slowed

I also feel that the defendeeris at the advantage with fortified positions

any other SIGNIFICANT conditions that contribute to one side having an advantage?

(again besided the extremely obvious)

thanks

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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Help me understand this, as I'm not a scenario designer (yet)...

Can't a lopsided scenario (in terms of equipment, force size, even terrain advantage) be "balanced" with the victory assessment? I don't mean VL locations (though that would count too), but in how the game interprets the resulting score?

If I get all the VLs, but I have 3 to 1 casualties when I had a 4 to 1 force superiority, I would win a pretty slight victory, I would think (or even take a loss). Isn't this the balance, or am I missing something? It wouldn't matter if it was platoon vs. battalion if the points were assessed right...

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Mark IV

The complexity of this game can make a point spread misleading IMHO

IF You have got 3 troops to my one, but you are attacking in crappy terrain, and I have major LOS, its highly unlikely that you have the edge that you believe eek.gif

Points are can be very misleading, but handled correctly also can create the best balance for play :P

All Im trying to do is get some generalities, with regards to the conditions that favor an attacker or defender smile.gif

With all the wargamers here I would've thought that scenarios designers would have an idea of what conditions would give a decisive advantage over the other

with them sharing their knowledge it might be easier to notice conditions in a scenario that may require a harder look

This will result in better scenarios if balance is a a goal

No matter what anyone says honesty will be involved in getting a fair game at a competitive level

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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I really enjoy playing home made scenarios.

Thats, until I find out you make sucky scenarios.

But, I think there should be some historical

design in mind though. If you can't get the terrain historicly correct At least try to get the order of battle accurate.

I think these scenarios will be much more enjoyable than just some units thrown into the grinding machine on each side.

Balanced or unbalanced, the scenario will be more fun if it's got some historical value.

May be with a little background info attatched. Just MHO

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Better to make the wrong decision than be the sorry son of a bitch to scared to make one at all

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Guest Big Time Software

A good average battle needs to be balanced in some way. I too love playing the odd "no way I can win/lose" battles, but too much of any one thing makes the experience kinda dull.

So far you guys have only played scenarios made by me. So I can tell you that balancing is actually EASIER than you might think. Either that or I am way better at it than the best, because I don't think very hard about what goes in. Here is the process I go through (in order)...

1. What feeling do I want the battle to have? Terrain, type of combat, force type, size, duration, etc. This is the easy part. I just picture something in my head, visually, and that is what I go after. All three demos are very true to the mental image I had to start off with. The following stuff is all based on this vision, modified if inspiration dicates such.

2. Play out the battle in your head. Anticipate what is likely to happen, which troops will manage to do what (remember experience levels!!), when, and where. This will make all the following steps MUCH easier. The AAR Alpha battle between Martin and Fionn was really funny for me because it pretty much went as I thought it would, yet each was sure the battle had totally swung for/against them. When Martin lost all his tanks but one he said to me "it's all over", but in fact I fully expected him to lose ALL of his armor. And although Fionn's early losses were different than what I anticipated, the end result was about the same.

3. Make the map in rough form. Put down the major bits you expect to be fought over and then build the map around that to facilitate the type of advance routes and positions necessary to support it.

4. Take the mix of units you have pictured and purchase them. Note the ratio of purchase points between the two sides and see if it is roughly what you had in mind for the type of battle ahead. Allocate some to reinforcements if that fits the bill.

5. Deploy the forces in the positions that seem to be realistic for the type of battle ahead with the type of forces you have chosen. Tweak forces based on the deployments to fit your vision. If I want a solid fixed defense, and I find that I can't cover a whole front line with the initial forces, I plop some more down and give the attacker a bit more too. Same in reverse if you find too many guys on the map for the kind of battle you want.

6. Play it against the AI from both sides once. Note which elements you put into the game managed to do the best/worst.

7. Adjust forces based on play. If you find that the attacker slaughtered the defender easily, and that wasn't what you had in mind, take away some of the units that seemed to do too much damage (like artillery FOs or big tanks). Conversely, if you felt that one side was harmed by not having x or a good enough y, make a change there without altering the other side's stuff. Say you give the German defender 2 Marders, and found that both were picked off easily, perhaps give 'em one StuG (additional or in place of a Marder). Most likely you will do a combo of things (give the Germans a StuG and remove a Allied 105mm FO).

8. Lather, rinse, and repeat biggrin.gif

Hmmm... Well, that is about it wink.gif

Steve

[This message has been edited by Big Time Software (edited 04-05-2000).]

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Hi Steve,

Thanks for the detailed response on the scenio designing smile.gif, The definitely will help me when I set up any pregenrated ones (which I plan to do several of)

Could you offer some insight in gaining balance in point based senarios, as these are by far my favorite because I like to purchase my own stuff smile.gif , Kinda like the wife with the credit card lol

Any advice you could offer inthis area would be tremendously appreciated smile.gif

thanks

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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Guest Big Time Software

Points are tabulated by unit group (artiller, armor, infantry, etc) as you purchase units. There is also a total for each. So if I am planning on having a meeting engagement, I want the total to remain roughly equal. Each group should be more or less similar, but if you know you are purchasing something that is a bit of a bugger to knock out (like a Jagdtiger), then you might want to give the Allies a few more heavy hitters.

Also, I tend to purchase stuff for scenarios based on what the force would likely have for that particular date, area, and circumstance. In something like Chance encounter, I gave the Germans more STUFF, but of much lesser quality. Point wise the two forces were about the same. Again, it comes down to a rough guess as to how each will perform in the given scenario.

Steve

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Steve thanks for the prompt reply again,

For a meeting engagement you say the points are more or less even, paying excetption to the possibility of heavy hitters.

IF I am setting up a point match hypothetically, and it is a large match with the germs defending in muddy terrain; with them having enuff points to purchase some large armor and descent troops -

How do I gauge this to enable the allies to have a comparitive force, would I be able to achieve this by a relative point designation.

Ie Say the allies get 3 to one for argument sake. Is there some rules of thumb to go by? I want to make some hellacious battles as well as small ones smile.gif - I'm hoping to be able to get really good at gauging point setups -with relation to terrain etc

As an old CC2 player I love Battlemakers and requisitioning - THe lack of knowledge of your opponents force, and the possibility of unorthadox tactics, adds monumentously to the thrill of the game for me.

Yes I know it isn't the most realisitc with regards to historical availability etc. eek.gif CM has an incredible amount of realism in the performace which was what CC2 lacked for me smile.gif.

YEt even so the point style BM scenarios made the game HIGHLY addictive smile.gif

I'm addicted to the beta of this lol smile.gif I feel that your advice will be the best possible, in designing this style since you (and Charles of course smile.gif ) made the game.

Thanks alot for taking the time to respond

THE anticipations is killing me smile.gif (thats good tho - i have NEVER been this excited about a game release )

Take care

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SS_PanzerLeader.......out

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Points can be used as a general guideline to balance a scenario, but you should never throw out common sense. Combat Mission in particular is simulating "combat multipliers" (->"supprting and subsidiary means that significantly increase the relative combat strength of a force while actual force ratios remain constant, e.g. surprise, deception, camouflage, terrain reinforcement") quite accurately. I made a scenario once where the attacker has less points than the defender, but the game is still quite balanced: the defender is surrounded, the attacker has more and better armor etc. In the end, force balancing is an "art" just like scenario making. The good thing is that CM's editor is so easy to use and so versatile, that you gain experience very quickly.

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Hi Steve,

you spoke about CE..but I think that scenario is really unbalanced in favour of the Americans! cool.gif

So lets have a simple strategic analysis on CE:

-objectives in the woods will be clearly and easily held by respective sides

- objective near the wheatfield will be easily American because it is very hard for German to go taking it without suffering heavy losses in open field

Therefore the struggle will be around the church objective…this for strategy!

Now lets apply some tactical hints:

- concentration of power: try to deploy 5 Shermans at the same time in a position dominating the german field (yeah…you cant forget that in CE the terrain is sloping down from the american side to the german one) biggrin.gif

- try to screen your Shermans from panzerschrecks with your infantry (schrecks and fausts are no equalizer here if you have a good screen)

- Shermans are very good at pounding infantry because being plenty of HE ammo so they will be very useful against infantry and above all schrecks in the church

- try to get first the big things so go for tanks first

Now you have 5 Shermans against 3 Stugs…why not apply concentration of power?…why not apply this principle from a dominating position?…why not apply it at the very start?

And now the last hint…..BE LUCKY

OK I think that characteristics of terrain are a powerful factor in the balance of a scenario and position of victory location above all....try to move in CE the church victory location nearer the german side and you will get a completely different battle!

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Guest grunto

Hi PL,

Aside from mud or force sizes, other things which can contribute to an advantage are possession of dominating hill positions with heavy armor by the germans on a cloudy day... a jagdpanther on a hill is a pain in the butt to kill if you've got no air support.

Forcing infantry to cross large open fields also makes it harder on them.

Probably the main thing you want to do with these scenarios is to playtest them, to ensure the balance is what you want.

After you design a few of them you should have a better feel for which force/terrain combinations make for the most balanced scenarios in given situations.

Another one which makes it tougher on the attacker is a river crossing because any existing bridges are chokepoints which the defender can concentrate on.

Also, minefields and obstacles can hinder an attack.

FWIW

Andy

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Knaust, I'd have to argue that CE is only unbalanced when the American player knows that the germans have only the 3 stugs. The germans have that beautiful ridgeline on their side, and their forest objective is much more defensible. Properly positioned, (and given time to do so by a realistic caution on the American side) those stugs can do a lot of damage to the shermans, then withdraw behind the ridge, and continue to pose a threat.

-John Hough

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Hi Hough

CE is unbalanced because germans have wink.gif only 3 stugs..or above all because the church victory location is easier to take for the americans!

I played 5 battles as americans on there and I won 4 of them (the last one is not already lost anyway).

I say it again:

Now you have 5 Shermans against 3 Stugs…why not apply concentration of power?…why not apply this principle from a dominating position?…why not apply it at the very start?

Even if you don't know that you are against 3 stugs you have to apply those principles anyway! smile.gif

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