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Quantity defence beats Quality attack?

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I was wondering if player felt that the point system in CMBB is balanced when different quality troops are purchased in a attack / defend scenario?

I have been creating a few early Barbarossa quick battle scenarios, and what I have found is the attacker does not seem to be getting enough points to spend on there forces.

Especially if the Germans attack with better quality troops than the Russians defend with. For the Russians its seems to be much more beneficial to buy as many Green/Regs units as you can, and not matter how many Veteran or better units the German buy, Quantity for the Russian defender wins out over Quality for the German attacker. Particularity when it come to the number of AT guns and tanks you can buy.

Anybody have any thoughts on this?

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a) German commanders in Barbarossa did not try to fight evenly matched battles. A CM-type battle resulted when someone frontally assaulted a strongpoint instead of bypassing it. These battles are not the historical norm for Barbarossa.

B) If the Russian player is experienced, chances are he's using his forces at least as well as a real-life Russian officer might have done in the same situation. IRL, superior Russian forces often lost because of poor leadership and limited training.

c) Contrary to myth, the Germans actually did suffer losses and setbacks during Barbarossa, at the tactical level. Some battles at the CM level of detail didn't go well for the Germans.

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Thanks bitchen frizzy, I agree with you. I will go a step further and say that in the history of warfare most Armies do not attack when they feel the battle will be evenly matched, but rather when they feel they have an advantage.

Hmmm....my question seems to be lost in the historical debate about Barbarossa. I will remove the historical and just talk a hypothetical CMBB battles to see if I can get the answer I am looking for.

With the quick battle point system, does it stack up buying better quality units, rather than buying more Green or Regs units.

To me it seems that when an attacking player buys Veteran or better units, and the defender buys regs or green units, the advantages seems to be with the defender. Even though the attacking player gets more points to spend, the defender can get more units in the battle by chosing the cheaper units.

To me this seems like the better way to go, as what I am finding is the more guns/tanks you can get onto the battlefield, you will always haver a better chance of winning with your weight of number over a fewer number of better quality troops.

I am thinking if you wish to create a battle where the attacker has the advantage, and better quality troops, they need more points to spend than the quick battle option gives you.

Does anybody else feel this way, or am I on my own here?

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Why does the attacker need better quality troops?

Nothing wrong with regulars. As the Russians, I'll attack with greens even. I drawn the line at conscripts (lol) - (though I've demonstrated here how a full battalion of those beats a company sized German infantry defense, when asked).

Infantry does like numbers. But infantry is only one leg of combined arms. Unchallenged remaining armor readily beats low quality infantry. Powerful on map guns are also a strong counter to simple infantry numbers (think 150mm sIG, 105mm howitzer, 20mm Quad, many 75mm leIG, etc).

If you put too many low quality men into a small amount of available cover, you just make artillery FOs and area fire by HE that much more effective against them. In low point battles that can readily occur if you take mostly infantry, unless the terrain setting is very dense with cover. Everywhere the enemy fires he will hit somebody. He doesn't need to wait or to scout, he just blasts.

In large point battles, one wing can't support the other, if all it has is low quality infantry static in position. Repositioning across open ground areas laterally, while the attacker covers those areas with HMGs and with armor, isn't exactly easy.

You aren't limited to one point ratio by the QB system anyway. Any ratio is possible, just use the "bonus" aka "handicap" system, if you like.

No, not all attackers need greater than 150% point odds to win. Nor do they need veterans to get their infantry to move. If you do, then perhaps you still have things to learn about how to use infantry.

All that said, can it be a smart strategy for a defenders to go for a "long suit" in infantry, planning on holding fire until close ranges and on "owning" woods interiors and built up building areas? Sure. It still needs a solid anti-tank plan, or there is an easy counter - HE chucker armor.

Can you build an anti-armor plan around lots of cheap guns? If well sighted, yes. Can guns be countered in turn? Sure, by on map mortars and mortar carriers, and by thicker front armor using keyholes to cover flanks (think "StuH") - but it is always work to take down an integrated defense standing on more than one leg.

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I have been thinking about this some more, and I think you are right and the quality of troops is not the issue.

I think that in the quick battle, the attacker do not get enough points to spend for the battles to be balanced.

Finding a balanced point ratio is not only important if you want to play somebody on even terms, but it is also a helpful tool for know how far to tweak the points to reflect more the historical slant on the battle.

In CMBB, the forces ratio for the attacker seems to be for the following missions...

Probe 1.4 to 1.0

Attack 1.5 to 1.0

Assault 1.72 to 1.0

I have looked up a WW2 miniatures rule book I have and they suggest that the forces ratio for a tournament should be about 3 to 1 for an attack defend scenario.

I am thinking that using a base ratio of...

Probe 2.4 to 1.0

Attack 2.6 to 1.0

Assault 3 to 1.0

Would provide a more even playing field.

Then those numbers could be tweaked to adjust a scenario towards a more historical slant if desired.

To me anyway, after a quite a few quick battle against the AI and with human opponents, the quick battle points seem to be too much in favor of the defender?

As most of my mates seem to all agree is is much easier to defend in a QB than to attack.....from our experience anyway.

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The built in ratios look pretty balanced to me. 3:1 was considered historically as a guarantee for a successful attack.

I think green troops worth more in defense than in attack. In an attack you need troops who can stand the incoming fire.

At the decisive point you might want to have crack troops. A few extra points can help you to win the game, even in cases when purchasing high quality inf in numbers is not worth 'economically'.

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IMHO ,in 90% of all things CM, quantity beats quality. So as a rule of thumb, its better to buy more green units, than fewer crack units.

One of the reasons is the greater mass of shooters and ammunition you get with lower quality troops.

AFAIK the only drawback of lower quality troops is the response time for orders.

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To broaden this thread, who do players think benefits the most from the CMBB systems well known problems, attacker?defender, Russian/German? By problem I mean understandable trade offs to make a workable system, given the resources to hand that Battlefront had access to. I am not interested in gripes and about CMBB as the only realistic simulation of combat is a real battlefield, just perceptions from players. Do they balance out, if so please give examples, or do they seem to favour attacker/defender, again examples would help.

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The more i think about it the more I feel the force ratio is a little unbalanced in CMBB QB.

Most of the time against the AI I find i do much better as the defender, than I do as the attacker. Even when replying the same scenario so I played both sides.

I realize this could be because I am a better defensive player than an attacking player, or perhaps the AI is better at defense than it is attack...

but now that we are playing CMBB by PBEM human v human I am seeing that the attacking players are also struggling, so the pattern seems to be continuing.

To me it just seems that the attackers could use some more points to spend of their force.

I have discussed this further with some of my mates and we agree with Kineas that 3 to 1 is too much.

I have a looked at Steel Panthers to see what force ratio they use....

Assault 2.5 to 1

Delay 2 to 1

This seems a bit closer to the mark to me.

I am going to use the following for our base QB forces ratio as a trial and see how it goes...

Assault 2.5 to 1

Attack 2.2 to 1

Probe 2.0 to 1

That roughly works out to be about a 45% increase on the QB points for the attackers.

[ June 03, 2008, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: brycie35 ]

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The AI is definitely better at defense than attack. In particular it is not intelligent enough to move its infantry properly.

If the terrain is hilly or dense enough, you don't need a big overall advantage in points to attack successfully- you only need to outnumber the defenders in a chosen area, then turn and do it again in another area. If the map is flat and open then things are harder, of course, but you can try using smoke barrages to isolate certain areas.

Certain units don't lose much value when they're green- artillery spotters, guns or SP guns firing mainly HE, MG's intended to fire from long range. Basically units who are mostly expected to merely pull a trigger.

The best is a carefully chosen mix of green and high quality troops. For example, in a meeting engagement, I once used a green infantry battalion to cover and hold territory while a veteran company acted as the spearhead- and the green troops ended up doing the most damage to the enemy. Of course battalions often come with added goodies like arty and heavy weapons companies.

Certain types of units are really best selected as veteran or better- units that have to react quickly, shoot accurately and 'do things right or not at all'- like Hetzers for example.

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Brycie - at the ratios you suggest, me having the attackers, you'd never win. Ever. Not a prayer. It is simply too easy to make a modest odds edge tell using the right tactics. Your impression to the contrary tells me you are doing something wrong. Which wouldn't be unusual - there is indeed a fairly steep learning curve for attacking in CMBB or CMAK. But attackers skill is my diagnosis of the symptoms.

On issues with CMBB and AK, armor cherry picking is easily the single biggest issue, and people sometimes address it with "house rules" or limits, beforehand. Overuse of very large numbers of cheap guns is sometimes a problem too. There are also a few exploitable bugs, notably from ridgeline "crest" effects in favor of guns, that players simply need to understand aren't kosher and deliberately avoid using. Big HE is overmodeled, particularly direct fire versions, though exploiting that can be a risky affair (meaning, lots of eggs in one basket). That is about it.

No, there isn't a systematical edge to defenders. Edge to nationality changes with time frame and with armor cherry picking restrictions. Infantry heavy fights favor the Russians at the margin, mostly due to better SMGs and access to cheaper squads. Once armor is in the mix, that's pretty much gone, though. There are adequate counters to overreliance on it as long suit, then.

I'll follow up with some basics of attack and why attackers can do a lot with 50% odds.

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I would say that I win 80-85%(maybe more?) of my battles as the attacker against the AI. However, how well I win as an attacker, compared to how well I win as a defender are not as good.

I'm not sure if I made that clear in my last posts.

Its not that I don't win as an attacker, its that I win better as a defender against the AI. Perhaps its because the AI is not as good at attacking as Aco4bn187inf suggest. However this does not explain why the same pattern is occurring in our PBEM games?

Thanks for the feed back guys. Looks forward to a few tips.

We generally used the auto buy option, which attempts to get around allowing players to purchasing unrealistic "cherry picking" forces. This has not solved the issue for us however.

Could it also be possible that Veteran, crack and Elite units are overpriced?

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Attackers new to it make a number of typical mistakes that make their own job harder and the defender's easier. They are largely conceptual errors. Some technique is needed to avoid them, but most of all one simply needs to know to avoid them in the first place, why they don't work and what can, instead.

The first mistake is to see the attacker's problem as fundamentally one of movement or how to get to the defender's side of the field or take flags or control ground. This leads to rushing - attacks that press too far into intact defenses, trying to "race" out of open areas or your own side of the field. Too many units are moving at not enough are firing; those that are firing are doing so too frantically, too soon, at marginal targets.

The attack tries to run the defense off its feet in one go, in other words. This predictably fails. Examine why, carefully.

Moving units are not firing, and it is firing that destroys enemy and that is what wins.

Moving units often have worse cover.

Infantry shot in the open experience "cover panic" and sneak sideways toward cover, instead of getting anywhere rapidly or firing effectively.

Units pushed close to the enemy make enemy shots effective, at a time when they are not firing back themselves.

Units recently shot haven't ralled. Even if they have reached cover, their own "outgoing" is quite limited for several minutes. If the defender can continue to hit them effectively they may not rally at all.

Armor that pushes forward rapidly shows flanks to hidden guns. It also enters the short ranges of infantry AT weapons and crosses potential minedfields. It is also spotted easily and enemy armor maneuvers against its flanks.

Easily seen armor means the enemy can deny battle if the odds look poor - you get either no clash of "heavy wood" or a decisively bad clash.

Everyone fires frantically as soon as anyone takes fire, trying to get said fire to stop instantly. This involves poor shot match ups - long ranges, into cover, wrong weapon for the job, area fire at sound contacts, rapid barrages on point targets dissipating FO firepower, etc.

Rapid fire early and often, "racing" to get licks in before the enemy or while in the open or to get out of it, exhausts friendly ammo faster than enemy infantry. The attack stalls with a third broken and the rest ammo-dry, shy of an intact enemy.

All stems from the initial error of seeing the problem as one of movement and exposure during said movement, leading to the brainstorm to try to compress the engagement in time to minimize time of exposure. Since time of exposure is not the actual driving variable, this fails to help.

The necessary corrected perspective is to see the problem as one of destroying the defenders with the means available. This is fundamentally not a spatial or movement problem, but one of achieved rates of exchange. Cover and movement issues enter that, but are only important for their impact on achieved rates of exchange.

The defender's problem needs to first be diagnosed. It is, to destroy 50% more attackers than the defender has, before the reverse. This means every defending item has to "pay for" itself and to spare. Within its own ammo limits and its own survival time.

The attacker can win easily if he can trade point for point with the defenders. The defender needs to do much better than that to survive.

Racing is not the issue. The winner will have an intact, superior force on the field when the opponent is shattered. Ergo, it is outlasting the enemy that counts.

Ammo and men have to be expended from your own side, for ammo and men neutralized on the other side, at the odds ratio or better. That means that attacker needs a 2:3 exchange, the defender needs a 3:2 exchange.

Killing a unit before it delivers its ammo removes that ammo. Absorbing its ammo by taking its fire without dying removes that ammo.

Only a few high ammo types are likely to exceed their firing opportunities with ammo left, unless simply not needed to finish the enemy off. The normal case is destruction before firing much of anything (or half sometimes), or firing off everything before the end.

No unit can afford to fire more than a small portion of its ammo, under conditions that will inflict less in the way of loss, that the needed overall loss ratio.

Meaning e.g. defending infantry cannot afford to shoot at attacking infantry 250 yards away in decent cover. Try it. In five minutes the defending infantry will be dry and in seven minutes nearly all the attacking infantry will be rallied and fine, even if they don't fire back at all.

A gun expends itself by giving away its location. Within a matter of minutes, most enemies will be out of sight, if the gun hasn't been destroyed, and the gun can be destroyed without effective reply soon after. Simply as no longer unspotted, as stationary, and as vulnerable to indirect fire weapons (on map mortars most of all).

Tanks risk rather than expend themselves by dueling their equals. Coin tosses add variance but on average are even exchanges. Superior front armor changes that, but flanks neutralize it. Overall, truly "uber" armor tends to sweep enemy armor out of positions with LOS, otherwise armor trades off.

Attack against "uber" armor without effective AT weapons is the hardest CM task, and a stacked deck. It is the only case of truly unbalanced quick battles, and its cause is not defense or point odds by armor cherry picking in specific eras. E.g. KV1s in 1941. Leave that aside as an outlier expection, it doesn't enter into normal CM attack considerations.

Defending MGs, light mortars, light FOs, snipers, light flak - can all slow an attack without showing themselves. This can seem a nearly insurmountable defensive edge and touch off the scramble to rush. But it is all bluff. These limits means do not have the power to shoot down an attack on their own.

FOs cost as much as platoons. Defenders need to kill half again what they expend to break even. Lighter FOs tend to pin only, and their effect passes within a few minutes of fire ceasing. Medium ones half a few squads and can pay for themselves, and inflict delay. But the sooner they are fired the longer there is to rally from their effect. Their ammo does not rally. If the attack avoids bunching up too tightly, defending FOs are a paper tiger. Yes they can dislocate your plans. But with limited arty point budgets and the 3:2 effect needed, they can't break your attack before they run dry.

Snipers are annoying, but if you keep tanks buttoned rarely do more than delay you slightly and provide intel.

Light mortars do not have the ammo depth to break large bodies of men. They are best against guns and other heavy weapon point targets, but they exchange off against those by running through their ammo pinning or breaking at most a couple of units. The lighter types only pin things and minutes later the target recovers.

HMGs are the great delayers, especially covering wide open ground areas from stealthy distances. Unlike the others, they also have the ammo depth to keep it up. But they do not have the firepower to shoot down whole companies in the open.

Here technique enters. Dealing with HMGs firing at stealth distances requires knowing "advance drills". That means keeping units beyond area fire distances from each other, so fire only hurts one unit per shooter, while all others rally. Think 30 meter intervals. You can stay within command distance by using "blob" formation - formless, multiple ranks per platoon, not all stretched side to side.

The units moving use the "advance" command, which makes them much less suspectible to break or cover panic. If already pinned they can sneak. Units in cover beyond range of reply use "hide" to get the enemy to "lose sight" of them. Other units advance to draw the fire away. Tired or pinned units go stationary to rally, their only job.

It isn't a race. *Rally power* is the key idea. Deliberately extend the experience, in time. If the enemy MGs spread their fire over 4 units in succession, each rallying stationary and hiding whenever pushed to "pinned", then you have multiple squads "snapping back" to "OK" at all times. You will "absorb" the enemy firepower, "rally through it", and the whole will creep toward the enemy at 25 to 50 meters per minute, from each unit moving part of the time.

This allows defending HMGs to make you spend 10 minutes if you have to cross open. It doesn't let them kill or stop you. In that length of time, they will run through most of their ammo, and at the distances needed to remain mere sound contacts, will only hit a few men, mostly expendable rifles.

Guns do have the firepower to break whole attacking groups. But they aren't unseen when they fire. You just need to trade them off, by having some "overwatch" that can KO them in turn. That can be tanks, mortars with spotters, FOs walking their shells around, or your own guns in your own treelines.

It is rare for a gun to kill much more than its own value, in the turns *after* it first opens up. But often it gets more than its value that first turn. It picked when to fire, after all. Showing flanks of valuable tanks to hidden guns is easily the least economic thing you can do. The solution is to not drive forward unless there is compelling need to do so. If you can see enemy held areas, you do not need to move.

Besides rapid KO after opening, guns on defense have another downside, on nearly all maps. They don't cover everything. Unless you attack everywhere and present great gun targets on all axes of advance, some enemy guns will be simply out of position and ineffective because of it. This needs to be counted in to their achieved exchange ratio. If half the defending guns never get a shot off, the other half need to KO 3 times their own value each. This is not easy if you have good overwatch and aren't reckless with your tanks.

As for defending armor, consider it like trump in bridge and draw it as early as possible. Trade yours for his as soon as you can do so on even, coin-toss terms. The way to induce him to take that risk is to threaten something else with your armor. Area fire at his infantry etc.

Next there is the issue of overwatch firepower and closing. Fire takes ground, that is the principle.

That doesn't mean waste all your ammo blasting at nothing. It means put superior firepower over a limited area before closing there with infantry. The idea is to exchange off whatever defenders show themselves. They fire and take some of your advancing infantry. Your overwatch fires back and takes them out, for good. Even steven. Do it again.

If the enemy isn't in spots your overwatch can see, that means there are also "shadows" his defenders can't see. Advance in them, not beyond them. When infantry is as close as it can get that way, reposition the overwatch to see more. This is a ratchet, it progressively deprives the enemy of places to stand that your infantry hasn't already sat on, or your overwatch isn't ready to plaster.

Your infantry doesn't want to move on top of intact enemy. It wants to take ownership of areas of cover where he isn't. Preferably spots that can see defenders from medium to close range, but any block of cover is useful to grab.

"Up" defenders able to see open areas and contest your infantry's movements, are not dealt with by your infantry alone. If they can see wide areas of open ground, then there are multiple spots on the edges of what they can see, that can see them right back. Put heavy weapons and tanks in such places. Only then advance infantry toward them.

They defender has choices, but none of them are good, in all this. He can delay early with lots of harassing fire. That runs the clock, but you rally and his ammo does not. At long ranges and with the limited number of shooters he can dole out over long blocks of time, at long range, he simply can't kill you.

Or he can hold his fire until you are closer, revealing less of his position. But this won't force you to expose your whole force to him at once, at close range. Remember, not rushing. Instead, you ooze into all unheld cover and line every opening, your side, with ranged weapons. Then somebody walks right up to him.

The defender counts on a big cover differential to neutralize your odds edge. But the differential between typical defender cover and attacking infantry in woods or even scattered trees, isn't enough for this. He needs shots into open. Don't give him shots into open on your whole force, only on nibbles. Turn every occasion in which he takes them into an even trade, his nibblers eaten by your overwatch.

Sometimes the defender can shoot with impunity for long stretches of the fight. It might seem like this would be ruinous for the attackers. Not so, not if the ranges are long and the time scale is long and the attackers are in cover even half the time. Why? The attackers need not expend infantry ammo, or anything else that is scarce. They rally, ammo does not. A few lost riflemen do not matter.

Fifteen minutes later, you close in anyway, your magazines are full, his are half empty to empty. If you expend all your ammo at 100 yards, and he spent half or more of his ammo, only 2/3rds as much to start with, at longer ranges doing little, you can easily have 3 times as much to throw at him in the main engagement.

Don't fight the whole enemy force at once. Fight on only half the field, overload it with 80% of your force. Your local odds can be higher than the global odds for much of the battle.

In pacing yourself, the issue is always, how fast am I expending by ammo and manpower, compared to how fast I am killing the enemy force. If I am not killing many enemy, that's fine, as long as I am not firing much and he is. That is still gaining ground, if he isn't killing much.

If every weapon in your arsenal punches its full weight, or takes a full weight answer from him to take it out, he can't trade through you. You will trade through him.

The defender can only win by getting lopsided clean kills for little expenditure of ammo or men, and doing it repeatedly. To take that away from him, it is enough to not make serious mistakes in combined arms or deployment. (Don't bunch up so much arty 100 points of arty kills 300 points of infantry; don't expose 300 points of tanks flank-on to 50-75 points of gun(s) and lose all of it, etc).

Naturally, maneuvering and outthinking your opponent, small tactics arranging many-on-few match ups, exploiting intel by scouting well, arranging good lopsided matchups yourself, etc, can all be added to the above, and when done well strain the defense further. You want to pick apart the front positions first, etc. But that is all gravy.

The main idea is simply take your time, lean on the defense gradually, getting every unit to do its part in the job it does best. And the defense simply won't have enough to hold. Your superior firepower will melt enough of them, that they will lose cohesion and the ability to protect each other.

Then you pick their weaknesses - over on the right, no more anti-tank weapons, or over on the left, infantry broken by a barrage, whatever it is - and break them apart at the "seams" the "leaning" process creates. Plan to win in the bottom half of the clock.

Above all, don't rush in too soon, throwing yourself on an intact defense. That just lets every defender do its preferred job against its preferred target, exactly as the defender planned at set up.

[ June 03, 2008, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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The AI doesn't know how to attack, period. If you give it enough superior armor, it can be somewhat dangerous anyway. But overall, it is so weak at it, you cannot draw any conclusions about human play from the AI on offense.

To show this, I once here gave an AAR of a fight vs. a full Russian battalion with 400 points of German infantry force type defenders, in which the attackers lost over 600 casualties, to 7 defenders. Most of the damage was done by a single heavy gun, and funneling by 40 points worth of wire.

Point being, the AI simply does not know enough to not bunch up, and route-finds through terrain so predictably, I could block the spot I knew it would use, at set up. It tried to walk 500 men over barbed wire into 150mm direct fire HE. It is the descendent of a toaster oven (pop culture reference).

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Thanks for all the tips JasonC. Thats the longest post I have ever seen! :eek:

After reading this I feel that perhaps my problem with force ratio is caused by another factor previously overlooked by myself.

We usually play on small to medium maps (say about 640m x 640m), however we only play 20 turns games.(to speed up the games as we PBEM)

I find that in a 20 turn game on that map size the attacker must try to push towards the objectives or risk running out of time. Particularity if the objectives are at the far side of the map. You need to buy time wherever possible so you have enough time up your sleeve for when combat slows you down.

By no means do you have to rush to capture the objectives in time, but I'm not sure if you have the luxury of time for good recon and taking your time to grind the defenders down in measured attacks.

Also on a smaller map the defenders can more easy cover a larger percentage of the map, and can re-deploy their forces more easily if it appears they are needed on the other side of the map where the main thrust is.

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A key factor for the defender, if human and not AI, is the reserve and its ability to move around, and indeed the degree to which the defender can switch around his forces. This as I see it is primarily terrain-dependant; it takes intelligence on the enemy (LOS, basically) and cover (blocks to LOS, basically) to dope out where the attack is coming and to set up in its path.

The systematic "many on few" attack approach as laid out by Jason is excellent as far as it goes, and it did wonders for my CM technique, BUT if the attacker too slow, or the defender sufficiently agile, or the cover/terrain such that the defender can switch forces around, then it is possible for the defender to concentrate against the attack.

This is of course superficially maneuver, but at the same time it isn't. Rather, it's a race to do to the attacker what he wishes to do to the defender: concentrate firepower, stack the odds of the engagement in the defender's favor, kill faster than you are killed, and repeat until the opposition is out of troops or ammo or both, while husbanding yours.

Doing this, at least for me, is harder to reduce to standard drills than attacking. But the principle is the same - identify the target and rig things so that you can whack it without repercussions too bad for your side. As far as I am concerned, against a human opponent as a general thing I find I have to think harder to defend than to attack.

Tanks obviously are an excellent reserve to sling around, and given ground allowing it to shift from place to place, armored infantry is as well. But alot can be done just by figuring out, when you place a gun or an MG, or indeed an FO, where else in the neighborhood you might want to shift it, if the opposition comes THAT way and not THIS way.

So, as a very general thing, I would say that quality in the reserve force is all other things being equal desirable. But I would immediately add that far better is the ability to guess which way the enemy is coming, with what tactics, and at what pace.

Certainly, if you answer the question "which way is the attack coming" quickly enough, you can do something about it with regulars or even greenies. And firefights and armor-to-armor engagements being what they are, numbers are a very powerful advantage even if you do not have a quality edge.

So for me, number one thing I want to have on the defense is good information about my opponent's troops and preferred tactics. If I have that, and sufficient time and suitable terrain, then relatively speaking one can respond to an attack with crap troops or excellent ones.

FWIW the Germans by late-war pretty much assumed that 1/3 of the combat power in the defense should be in reserve, and that the primary goal of the static part of the defense was not to defeat the attack, but rather to delay it and channel it until the reserve could show up to smash it.

I have been playing alot of defensive battles against live opponents of late and it really has come home to me that although the step-by-step systematic attack is a very powerful approach, a defender able to identify it early enough can react very effectively.

Which is not to say I am recommending all out attacks as a better alternative, all the time. But sometimes, if you are telegraphing slow systematic attack, it seems to me you might consider picking up the pace, otherwise the defender opposite you just might use the time to reposition and ambush you.

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It comes down to which approach takes a greater toll on the attacker, fast and he trips whatever ambushes the defender happened to place in front of him, or slow and maybe he drives into a fire sack the defender built in front of him.

My experience, the only real way to get a smart human attacker into losing engagements is to gauge the attacker's direction, and build force in front of it.

Ideally you'd like to predict the attack's main effort ahead of time and have him waltz into a giant ambush which wipes him out in about 5 minutes of firing, of course. Not always possible, in which case it can be a race between the attacker attempting to shoot his way into the position, and the defender reconfiguring his layout to maximize the hurt put on the attack.

My point is that if the battle comes down to that kind of race, and of course it doesn't always, then the slow deliberate attack actually can give the defender extra time to reconfigure.

The Israeli general Bren Aden of '73 War fame had a term for it, he called it "the moving ambush".

Not always a perfect solution, but always worth thinking about for attackers and defenders both, IMO.

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Bryce - no, the problem is not the conditions you cite but your reaction to them. On maps that small, the approach doesn't take more than 10 minutes and the battle proper rarely more than 5. Sometimes the reverse, of course. Is it marginally easier for the attacker with 25 minutes? Sure. But 640 yards with the attacker already on part of them, and not needing to reach the back to destroy the defenders and contest the last flags afterward, means speeds needed on the order of 25 meters per minute. That isn't remotely rushing. If you rush you will lose for the reasons I stated. You don't need to in small fights, just because they are small. May you occasionally run out of time with the defense in control of the flags? Sure. So what? You would if you dashed into them and broke apart, too. It is the breaking apart portion that is the error, and rushing that causes it. As for scouting time, on maps that small you can deduce the enemy positions from the terrain available alone, and some area fire (by high ammo on map types e.g.) can commence from the start line. Arty can "map fire" for turn 5.

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Big Duke - the defender can always reconfigure. The illusion that a fast enough attack can beat the defenders to their own chosen point of contact is just that, an illusion. Only dumb set ups are remotely susceptible to it. The usual thing, instead, is the fast attack aims for scouted weaknesses which are there deliberately. The defender can practically drive both sides. A main advantage of a careful, plan-driven vs. fast, recon-pulled attack, is the attacker decides where the former occurs. The defender decides where the second occurs, the attacker's subjective desires in the matter notwithstanding.

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I'll also point out that the idea that a 1/3 reserve shifting to the point of main effort is going to "smash" the attack, is not workable in practice. The defender starts with 67% of the attacker's force. His reserve is 22% of the attacker's force. The main effort involves typically 75% of the attacker's force. The reserve shifted is outnumbered 3 to 1 by those it is supposedly smashing. When it has to move, too, its cover differential and obstacle prep are lower than the rest of the defense, not higher.

Should defenders have reserves, gauge the point of main effort, shift in front of the attack to even out local odds? Sure. But it isn't a winning formula. All it can do is bring the odds ratio back closer to the overall odds, partially countering the effects of attacker concentration. Only partially, even for that. But the attack doesn't depend on said concentration. The attack can win with 3 to 2 odds. The defender still needs to inflict far more than he loses with some sizable portion of his force. Just shifting in front won't do that.

Instead it requires the exploitation of three or four specific vulnerabilities, which are the only routes to multiple clean kills well in excess of what is used up doing it. Those are -

large bodies of infantry caught in the open at close range - avoidable by packet movement

large bodies of infantry caught concentrated in cover by strong HE - avoidable by not bunching up, using all available cover even marginal forms, and by patient deep column tactics

tanks caught in flank by hidden guns - avoidable by cautious use of armor and mortar overwatch

tanks killed by cheap infantry AT and similar means - avoidable by cautious use of armor and infantry first tactics

The only remaining common case of lopsided clean kills is cherry picked uber-armor KOing armor that is less uber. Attacks by inferior armor on superior, is the only case in which misdirection is critical for the attack (and even then, wide angles between threats, and exploiting keyhole shadows if those are avoided, are the method, more the head faking).

Another theoretical but uncommon one, large bodies of infantry caught by defending armor, is unusual because the attacker usually has more armor, and because threatened infantry can skulk in the meantime. Only unusual force mixes at the start, or an outlier armor war "hot streak", bring this about in typical CM fights.

The defender doesn't win simply if he can put most of his shooters ahead of the attacking main body for five minutes. It is much harder than that. Anything that results only in near-even trades against good play, will let the attack win easily. The attacker has to make definite mistakes, or the defender has to have definite trumps in his hand from the start, or both.

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If the map is not deep enough, the defender can not effectively use reserves.

Map size, visibility and terrain matter for this. 2km of flat open ground don't help, 500m with covered lines of comms work fine for the defender.

If the defender uses his reserves and existing defensible ground well, he can concentrate on parts of the attacker, who is patiently moving, trying not to bunch up. Surprise and keyholing.

Slowing down the attacker with stealthy long ranged wpns if the reserve is on foot.

Attacking the AI with quality vs quantity (e.g. AI getting a 100% bonus) does work if you use gamey tactics like capturing one flag and then slaughtering the AI rushing to re-capture the flag. If the map is deep enough and the flags are far to the rear, the attacker will run out of ammo in CM, no matter how restrictive your ammo use.

If a competent defender forces the attacker to spend his ammo, quantity will beat quality.

[ June 07, 2008, 08:13 AM: Message edited by: Joachim ]

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