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Infantry advance illustrated (was infantry advances over open ground)

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Well here is another outing in the little testbed where one infantry platoon advances across open ground to KO a single heavy machinegun in a house. The point is merely to show the importance of proper infantry tactics, or that what you do with your units is more important than what labels they wear and the details of their FP ratings.

This time I kept a detailed narrative of everything I did and why, and saved the files. (I may have missed one saved file, but with both around it and a narrative in this level of detail, I hope that is only a minor inconvenience). This is the same map I used before, as mentioned in the previous thread.

Recall that a green Rumanian ZB37 was able to stop the attack when the attackers used "move" and a straight ahead skirmish line, stopped one when not plagued by jams that used "human wave", and lost to another using "human wave" due to timely jams - taking out 15-17 men in the process, even when losing.

This time is was a regular MG42. It experienced three short jams, two for 20-30 seconds and one for a single minute. These may have saved me a couple men but did not determine the outcome of the test, as I believe the narrative will make clear.

It is long. And the level of minutae is undoubtedly excessive for experienced players. It is not meant for them, but for relatively new players who may not have seen these things, may not know what orders to use or where to go, or may not know what to do when various incidents happen to their men during an infantry advance. I provide it because something like it has been repeatedly requested. If it isn't your cup of tea, go have your own thread about whatever is, please.

MG Start - The jump off


The platoon is deployed in 2 by 2 column. Units are 30m apart to avoid suppression to each other when another is fired upon. With the HQ in the center of the "box", this has the second line of squads trailing 50m behind the first. Initially all are hiding, to avoid being spotted before moving. Hiding helps even in open ground if the range is long enough.

I choose the position for the column based on the terrain ahead. There is a hedge 210-240m ahead of the platoon, with 2 small houses before it. The houses are good cover but only one unit at a time will fit in either of them. They will also create "dead zones" behind the house proper - LOS blockages - which is even better cover against a limited number of shooters. Also, moving near LOS blocks helps locate sound contact shooters, because you can check to see which locations could see past the block at the time a unit received fire.

The planned approach route is alongside the two houses ahead of the platoon, up to the hedge. If they spot the enemy by then they can fight from there, but I don't count on it. Next they will cross the road to the patch of rocky to their right. Then there are a few shellholes and two more houses, one closer than the other, and then a few more shellholes still closer to the flagged objective house. The movement goal is to get the platoon, in decent shape, to those shellholes and houses, thus able to see the objective house at short range, from a position of at least modest cover. The "approach march" portion - through long range fire - is up to the hedge.

MG 1 -

The platoon is set to move out. All have "advance and hide" orders for 70-80m moves. The squad on the right front is set to move out first, with no pauses added to its 14 second command delay. The squad on the left front has one pause added, so it will start after 24 seconds, a little behind the first. The rest of the platoon have their orders, but have pauses added to "pad" their start times until the following turn. So they will be able to move without much command delay on turn 2, but for turn 1 will remain right where they are. Since they are going to wait before moving out anyway, they can be given multiple waypoints to allow more options as they move, so they each get 3.

The platoon HQ has a short "move to contact" at the end of its move, the part entirely inside the house. That tells him to halt if fired upon - a good idea while in good cover. If the enemy wants to shoot at well protected men instead of exposed ones, welcome it.

MG 2 - Early approach march


The German MG fired at the left front squad 5 times. The first left it only at "alerted" but the next bumped it up to "shaken". Because it had an "advance" order, though, it kept on going. If it had a "move" order it probably would have changed direction at that point or at the least gone prone and started sneaking. Notice that the rear units have only 2-3 seconds of delay before moving out on last turn's orders. Also notice that the advances were set a bit long, because both the front squads are now just out of command range of the HQ.

We've also got a sound contact location for the firing MG. It is only approximate. The MG might be in the objective building - most likely - or in a trench to its left perhaps. Notice that the right front squad was not shot despite stepping out 10 seconds earlier than the left one. That means the MG is probably in dead ground to the early part of the right squad's move. If you check with the LOS tool from the right rear squad, you can see it just sees the left side of the objective building but not the right. The right front squad, on the other hand, has now emerged past the "shadow" of the first house, and is nearing the "shadow" of the second - if the flag building is where the MG is.

Now it is time to react to the events of the first minute. Can the unit presently under fire - the left front squad - get to good cover quickly? Using the LOS tool, the house is 44m away - roughly 30 seconds of advance. The unit still has some "waypoint" "left" from its previous move. So its destination can be picked up and dragged - and checking, it will reach to the house.

The options with this squad, therefore, are either keep moving and head to the house, or halt right where they are and hide. In favor of the former, it is good cover and the squad will only be shot around 3 more times before reaching it. Against it, the unit is already at "shaken" and is out of command distance. Halting would let the HQ close the distance sooner and improve rally. We will try moving to the house. If the unit is hit again and goes prone, it should at least keep sneaking toward the house on its own.

Because the targeted squad is going there, we don't want to overload it with men. So the platoon HQ changes its destination to stop behind the house, using it as an LOS block. I want him to see around the house far enough to command units a bit ahead, so he doesn't go clear to the back wall. The rear guys can all move out, because a moving targeted unit ahead will almost certainly attract the available fire. The right front squad wants to move only a short additional distance, because it is already beyond command range. The edge of the shadow of the next house up ahead is the obvious cut off point. Right rear deletes his last waypoint to stop in the shadow of the rear house. Left rear extends his last, dragging it forward, to eventually take over the leading role on my left side, to let the squad headed for the house rally there.

MG 3 -

The left front squad takes all the shots again this minute. Initially it heads for the house at "advance" speed. At second 12, it is pinned by a burst and goes prone, sneaking. But it quickly recovers to shaken and gets up again. Another burst knocks it back to pinned and prone, and it keeps sneaking toward the target. As it slows, the HQ behind catches up and the command line goes red again - back in range. The squad sneaks to a few yards from the building, recovers to shaken, and gets up one more time. Another burst and they are back down again. They sneak into the house at the very end of the minute. Note that the order still says "advance and hide" - they are sneaking involuntarily because they are pinned. Well, now they are in command and in good cover. They will halt and hide, and take time to rally. Nobody was hit. With a little time to recover while the rest of the platoon carries on, they will be right as rain.

The right front squad finished its move and hide as ordered. Notice that its fatigue is at "ready" - they didn't advance so far they got tired. An LOS tool check also shows they neatly made it into the shadow of the next house ahead. Guess where they will be going? Once you are in the shadow of something to a shooter, you are on a highway to the cover creating the LOS blockage. You'll reach it safely unless another shooter intervenes from a different direction. This squad is thus in a great position, and will be our "point". leading the advance. If I were worried about other shooters I'd continue to use "advance". When I'm sure I'm in dead ground, though, I can use "move" to save on fatigue.

The HQ heads for the same "seam" the right front squad has found. It uses "advance" to get to the shadow of the next house, then "move" once in dead ground. The right rear squad comes next. Over on the left, I could route the left rear squad around behind the house as well. But this would be somewhat slow, all units taking the exact same route. Also, I don't particularly mind giving the MG something to shoot at, to distract it from the bulk of the platoon getting to the "seam" - so long as the range is long and the target is fresh, in command, and using advance.

MG 4 -

Silence. The MG clearly could have seen my left side squad but it did not fire. Probably a jam. Nice when you get them, but not something you can count on or can be sure will last. The left side squad finished its move and is hiding, but the long advances brought it to "tiring". The previously pinned squad in the house recovered completely. Everybody else is in the seam.

The point squad is to move through the house, then up to the right end of the hedge. The HQ heads for the shadow of the house, with LOS around to its right to keep the "point" in command. It will then wait there a spell for the other squads to catch up. The recovered squad in the house moves out for the seam. The leftward squad adds one "pause" to its next move, which is also kept to a short 50m, to give it a chance to rest a little from its "tiring" fatigue state. It will also mean it is less likely to be the first target.

MG 5 - In the "shadow" seam


No more jam. The left side squad takes fire even before it moves out. At first this only moves it to "alerted" and it rapidly recovers, and moves off. At second 40 or so, though, about the fourth burst pins them. Their waypoint adjusted to the next house involuntarily - they are in "cover panic". They are also still tired, and the house is 56m away. Way too far to sneak it, and they won't move upright while pinned. Therefore, their movement order is voided and they are told to hide. Hiding probably won't work and they will probably continue to draw fire. But better to rest and keep the range long. Their only job is to try to rally.

Meanwhile the rest of the platoon must continue forward aggressively, trying to draw the shooter off the pinned men and onto themselves instead. So two squads head for the hedgeline, with the last headed as far as the forward house. The HQ alone won't move, because it is in dead ground thus safe, doesn't want to get shot, and needs to keep the pinned squad in command distance. Since it isn't moving this turn, I might as well give it a complicated order with a long command delay, to have more options next turn. Then I pad the time up to 59 seconds, so it will only have just started its move in my next orders phase.

MG 6 -

The left squad takes fire and due to cover panic sneaks toward the house involuntarily. After about 20 seconds the fire stops - another lucky jam probably. The rest of the minute is quiet. They only made it about 25m crawling. With the likely jam I'll risk upgrading their move to "advance" and try to get them into the house to rally. Meanwhile, the main body and the HQ will move up to the hedge. The point squad at the right end of the hedge will hop across the road and make for the rocky patch beyond.

MG 7 -

No more jam, a full turn of firing. The first man is hit in 1st squad, after reaching the hedge. It is crowded enough there that neighboring units are pushed to "alerted" by the burst. That is livable but we can't all stay here for long.

The point squad makes it just across the road while the MG is firing at the men behind the hedge, then fire shifts to them. They almost make it to the rocky by the end of the minute, having taken 3 bursts and been pushed to "shaken". The squads at the hedge all recover to full morale after this shift of fire.

The left rear squad has also been freed from fire in all this and safely reaches the house. They are no longer pinned, but the excess involuntary "sneak" has pushed their fatigue to "tired". They are safe, though, and will just need a minute or two to catch their breath. As there isn't room yet up at the hedge, that is no big deal.

So, the task for now is to get the point - the current target - into cover, and then give the MG somebody else to shoot at. By having the next squad cross the road to the rocky patch. The point wants to get to the rocky then halt and try to rally. The rear squad, back in the house, will just rest.

The HQ will shift to the right behind the hedge to increase the interval, after the next squad leaves for its road crossing advance. In addition to making room, this is needed to extend the HQ's command radius over to the right, to cover the rocky patch.

1st squad doesn't want to shift yet because it is crowded already. It could hide, but as the objective is only 200m away I'll instead have them look for the shooter. To do that I give them a covered arc 250m long centered on the objective, wide enough to contain the sound contacts I've seen so far.

If I were certain where they were, it might try area fire at this point. But keeping it realistic I don't know for sure where the shooter is (trenches can remain unspotted down to 175m in the open, and we aren't that close yet), so I just tell them to look. The covered arc will make them fire if they get a fully IDed target rather than mere sound, but otherwise they won't.

MG 8 - Maneuvering toward "ID range cover"


The point squad takes all the fire this minute. It is pinned by the first burst which gets them while still moving, but after they made it to rocky terrain. They quickly finish their move, however, turn to the threat and remain prone. The rest of the shots are thus at a stationary prone squad in 50% cover. They manage to rally under this fire, spending most of the turn at "cautious" but making it to "alerted" in the last 4 seconds. Outstanding. Nobody hit. Notice the effect of only a unit at a time fully exposed - often the enemy misses the best target and shoots into cover instead.

The second squad across, though, passed close enough to them while they were under fire that they were pushed to shaken. They made it to the rocks OK, but are only 15m away from the point squad. That is too close, and it means every burst is suppressing them as well as the point. Since the point has rallied, the solution will be to have it move off again. These guys should then be able to rally easily. Notice the importance of avoiding bunching up too much in the small bits of available cover, even momentarily.

The squad back in the house has recovered to "tiring". One more minute and they will be entirely recovered from their previous ordeal. See how "rally power" is getting the whole platoon forward? In 8 minutes only 1 man has been hit, and the platoon as a whole has advanced from 450m to 175-200m from the objective. With everybody currently possessing some modest form of cover, and the worst morale state a single squad "shaken".

So, the point squad heads right for a crater, the next squad across heads for its previous spot but 15 seconds later. The HQ will try to cross the road this turn. 1st squad shifts to the HQs previous location. The rear squad in the house just rests. If it all works, I hope to have half the platoon across at the start of the next minute, but with the HQ close enough that the forward two can move out again. And hopefully in decent morale states. The rear two squads will be rested and ready to cross the road themselves, or to advance on their own side of it if that looks better.

This part isn't fast, and under fire at less than 200m, it will probably produce casualties. Against a less stealthy position or with better cover near it, I'd just go straight ahead and get a full ID, then shoot it out. But this MG in a house is hard enough to fully ID that we haven't picked it up yet, exactly. And there is very little cover immediately in front of it.

Thus the longer, slower right shift. It is headed for that next house up ahead eventually - from there I hope to be close enough for a full ID. Only one squad needs to get close enough to see him. I'm sending two, so he can shoot up one and the other will still make it. And the HQ, to keep them in command in their next forward bound to the critical "spotting cover" house.

MG 9 -

Well 2 men hit that turn, both in the point squad. It made it to the shellhole but is "shaken". The next squad was pinned by being too close to a last burst as the point was leaving, and is taking its own sweet time rallying from that pin. But the HQ made it across fine.

This turn I will try something risky. 1st squad back at the hedge will go around the hedge and advance straight toward the objective. It is making for a shellhole 85m away, but only trying to make it halfway there this minute. It will move out at the 19th second, and I expect it to attract the MG's fire from about the middle of the turn on. Probably it will be pinned, and it might lose men. If however the MG continues to fire over toward the rocks, it may get close enough for a full ID. If not this turn, then certainly next, by the time it gets to that shellhole.

Meanwhile the point squad will try to advance the 30m it needs to go to get in the shadow of the next house. It heads out only at the 30 second mark, so hopefully the MG will already have shifted. If it hasn't, then 1st squad will have to be the one to get close enough for the ID, or the point will have to bull through the fire and make it to the shadow anyway. The basic idea is two separated threats. The MG can stop either one, probably. But if one gets close enough, the tables turn and the Russians get to fire.

4th squad just needs to rally from its present state of "pinned". It overwatches toward the objective. The rear squad comes forward to take 1st squad's place at the hedge, and also overwatches. Nobody is hiding anymore. Everybody is ready to fire back if something is seen, and all eyes are on that objective house.

MG 10 -

Well the point draws fire all the while before moving out, remaining at "shaken". The instant it starts to move, while still in the crater, it takes another shot which pushes it up to pinned. Notice, even using "advance" you are more vulnerable to fire while moving than while stationary. They go prone only for an instant, though, get to cautious and resume their advance. They make it 10m into the open and take a burst, and keep going at "shaken". But the next is too much, and they go prone, "cover panic" sets in, and they reverse direction back towards the rocks. This is the cue for the MG to shift its fire to 1st squad, which it promptly does. They take a shot but it only gets them to alerted, and they complete their short move before another hits them. They are thus stationary though in the open, and recover to "OK" by turn end. Meanwhile the other guys in the rocks have rallied, and the point has made it back to cover. Nobody hit.

So, the MG stopped the rightward threat to get into the house shadow this turn. But let 1st squad make it half way to its shellhole destination. This turn, the now rallied 4th squad must create the right side threat. It will head for the house. 1st squad will attempt a short advance to its shellhole. It expects pain, but to make a way for 4th squad by drawing all the fire. The point will rally and overwatch, as will the rear squad, now up at the hedge. The forward guys are going far enough ahead that the HQ must leave cover to keep them in command. Trusting that they will be drawing the fire, it does so, with a 50m advance order into the open between them.

MG 11 - Full ID, now we get to fire back


For 30 seconds there is silence, apparently another jam. 1st squad just makes it to its crater when the first renewed burst rings out. Still only sound. Another burst and a second man is hit in 1st squad. A third, and the German MG resolves to a full ID inside the objective building. 4th squad has almost made it to its house. This turn we are just going to shoot (finally!). But the rearward squads also get elaborate orders to leapfrog forward to a couple of shellholes at good ranges to the objective, delayed for the next minute by padding with pauses. If we pin the MG this turn, reducing the contact to a flag marker, they will move out for those closer positions.

MG 12 -

He goes heads down in 20 seconds, turns into a flag at 40, pops back up for one burst and goes heads down again almost immediately. By the end of the turn all my men are unsuppressed and he is heads down. So the rear squads will continue their closing orders as given. The two closer squads just pour on the fire. The HQ, contributing little, goes to area fire right next to the MG, in case contact is lost when he turns into a flag again. I want some fire going in regardless, even if tiny, to make rally harder. I could try rushing at this point. But first I want the whole platoon at good firing ranges. Firepower alone might well do the job. The only new movement ordered is for the platoon HQ, a short 30m advance. That is intended to keep the two new forward positions in command distance.

MG 13 -

He turns into a flag at the 15 second mark, obviously pinned. He gets off one burst at the 56 second mark, drawing many replies and immediately going heads down again. His burst was at the HQ and caused a cover panic sideways sneak towards the house. Since he isn't likely to fire again, that is voided with a "halt". The two moving squads continue to their new locations. The nearest squad is given the area fire order this time - we want more firepower going in even if he disappears. After the extra shooters are in place, we can assault with the full strength 4th squad. The orders for that are given but delayed until the start of next turn.

MG 14 - The fully prepared assault


All units are in position, but he is still up and firing. Looks like he needs another minute of fire before we actually close. A burst convinces the HQ to sneak over to the building again. This time I'll let him. I expect to pin him soon, so 4th squad does advance. But since he isn't heads down yet I will only use the first waypoint, cancelling the other two. That puts me in distance to assault next turn if he is heads down. All squads fired aimed, none area this time.

MG 15 -

He gets off two bursts at his old target in a shellhole, without hitting anyone. He turns to hit 4th squad but goes heads down before he fires, and then turns to a flag again. He has 20 seconds of respite to rally. Still, time to go in. 4th squad assaults into the building itself. 1st squad advances to grenade range just across the road from the building. The HQ advances to keep both in command. The two 9-man squads overwatch from their shellholes. No area fire as I don't want to interfer with 4th squad's assault.

Victory -


Got 'em. They had 3 men left as it happens, thoroughly pinned. They panicked the instant 4th squad reached the house, then broken in a few more seconds, and wiped out after a few more. No additional losses. Elapsed time - 15 minutes. Russian casualties - 4 men.

I hope this is helpful.

[ February 02, 2004, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Well as I said I have all the files. I'm not a wiz at putting up pictures and don't have a convenient web space for them to live. But if anyone else is and does, they have only to ask for the files and I will send them, and they can provide all the turn by turn pictures and such.

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Note that they are saved in the orders phase, after I've given the orders for the coming turn. The idea being, you can see what each of the orders given looks like, for each situation. The resolution stuff isn't there. You'd get a different result hitting "go", but you can see how things work out or play on from any situation. Well, any except turn 9. I missed saving that one. It is pretty clear though, since you have 8 and 10 and the narrative - which I kept for that turn as for all the rest. It is all in one zip. I suppose I should include the text file of the narrative, shouldn't I? I'll make that change.

Anybody who wants the whole set, narrative and game files, just holler (aka email me or say so here). It is only 50k, so easy to send and get.

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Thanks very much for this and many other extremely helpful posts. The detailed information you give in your tactics advice makes this advice really useful and appliable. I really feel my understanding of tactics improved and so has my performance, at least against the AI smile.gif

Just posting this to let you know that the hard work is greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much!

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hmm thats well writen and quite informative. Taking the role of Devils Advocate I would say however that the enemy MG does have a very restricted LOS. The two buildings and the hedge do provide some cover to the attacking infantry.

So strictly speaking they are not attacking over open ground for a great distance.

I would like to see you do it withought the two houses and the hedge against maybe two MG42 just to be difficult.

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Interesting. Using realistic tactics it took you 15 minutes to advance some 300 meters and take a house occupied by a single, out of command, MG.

My play style is similar to this, in that I will attempt to use all available means to avoid casualties.

I'd like to make one point.

Some whole CMAK scenarios on the CD are only 15 minutes long. Many are 20-30 minutes long. So, if you used such tactics in one of these scenarios, you have used up most or all of your available time to accomplish a small initial objective.

Imagine this little example as part of a larger CM scenario, say a company advancing into the outskirts of a village or town. Now imagine that the village is held by more than a few unsupported MGs. How long would that take? Quite a while, I guess.

What drives me nuts is that players will look at a tactical example like this, they will praise JasonC for being a tactical genius, they will cry Bravo! Bravo!...and then they will turn around and play - or design - another 25 turn scenario.

This example is a good illustration of why realistic tactics take time. I wish more scenario designers allowed for this.

[ February 03, 2004, 02:10 PM: Message edited by: Runyan99 ]

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It was 400-450m. And yes a proper infantry advance takes time. But not all that much more time as the size of the force increases. A well conducted approach is going to take about 10 minutes pretty much regardless of the force size and almost regardless of the map size. (Why? Because when you start farther away you face less opposition at first, so the initial movement is somewhat faster). You won't KO a real position in 15 minutes, unless it is a tiny force or you don't have far to go. But 25 minutes can suffice on small maps. 35 is a lot more comfortable. Compared to CMBO times, you need about 10 minutes more in CMBB or AK, pretty much across the board.

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If you like, I propose a similar test on a slightly larger scale. Something closer to what players might find in an actual CM scenario.

Create a small Russian village. A collection of 20 buildings or so. Place a single objective in the center of the little village.

Make the map 500m wide and 1000m deep. (Soviet doctrine says that a company attacks on a 350m wide front, so this should be wide enough.) Your start line is 600 meters away from the objective flag. As in the example above, you have to advance some 400 meters across open terrain. Then advance the final 200 meters through the village to take the objective.

Give me a platoon of infantry, and three MGs.

You get a company of infantry with whatever organic support weapons it comes with. That should give you something like a 3:1 advantage.

Your mission is to capture the objective with a similar casualty ratio to the example above. In the previous example, your platoon took 4 causalties, so that is something under 10% casualties (I don't know how many men you actually started with).

For generosity, I'll allow you 15% casualties to take the little village.

How much time do you need to accomplish this objective? Can you do it in 25 turns?

Edit - I changed the width of the map to reflect Soviet doctrine, and to take away the flanks, since this thread is supposed to be about advancing under fire, not maneuvering around a flank.

[ February 03, 2004, 03:49 PM: Message edited by: Runyan99 ]

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My company command illustration is presently underway. It has many other purposes besides discussing the time things take, with you. It is part of a series of these things meant to show tactical principles, and perhaps eventually be rolled into a strategy guide. When it is done, you'll see it.

But briefly, (1) a company level attack involves somewhat more overwatch than the support units that come with the CM company purchase and (2) when the attacker has no armor and the ground is wide open this becomes more important, than when he has either armor or cover.

Typical support for a single company advance is 2 MGs, 1 heavy or 2-3 light mortars, 1-2 field guns, an FO, occasionally a sniper. This gives a "toolkit" of ranged heavy weapons to reply to various defenses. In point terms about 50% of the cost of the infantry alone is needed, in addition. Split between "support" and "artillery" categories.

With proper support, proper movement tactics, and point odds, that will succeed even across wide open steppe. In a half hour or so - 35 minutes is plenty. Yes 20-25 can be too short a period for such an advance. It won't be made better by trying to force the pace, incidentally.

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In the previous thread I asked for the save files of your example.

Instead, JC, you've provided way way way more.

Thanks thanks thanks... just looking at save files wouldn't have done a lot for understanding the thinking behind it.

Here is a question: why don't you split the squads to give the single gun more targets (hence reducing the chance of any particular one being shot at)?


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