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The Briefing quality of scenarios - decreasing?

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In CMBO, I was (and still am) very much a fond of Wild Bill Willder's long, informative briefings. They taught me a lot and I throughly enjoyed reading them. Unfortunately CMBB scenarios doesn't have much in the way of briefing. IMHO this is one thing CMBB lacks which CMBO had in plenty: great briefings. It can also teach you a lot. What do you ppl

think? I hope CMAK scenarios get bigger, more informative and historical briefing.

Another thing happens in CMBB (and also sometimes in CMBO) that I play a battle an keep wondering who actually won it in RL. Some CMBO and CMBB scenarios tell of the aftermath. Unfortunately, a large number of scenarios do not. Don't you think including battle aftermaths for a scenario except for a few special cases can increase the attraction and incentive to playing that battle somwhat? It would also be

nice to compare things with RL.


-- Monwar

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Hmmm...I only started into CMBO last summer so I didn't have a lot of experience with it before CMBB rolled around. I can't say as I've found either version to have a better or worse host of briefings.

As one (of the many?) long time SL/ASLers, I did notice the general deviation from that format wherein each scenario had an historical introduction and aftermath. Of course, you also knew the exact compostion of the enemy OB and set up area(s). I've always found the tendency for the CM briefings to be a bit light on info (pre- and post-battle) to be in keeping with the excellent FoW that CM is able to deliver.

How much to divulge in the briefing is just another choice that the designer has to make: t'ain't easy. I think the use of location markers for well reconned positions is an excellent device (e.g. Scott B.'s "The Bitter End" from the Stalingrad Pack) and my electronic hat goes off to whomever was the first to come up with it.

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I've done the same thing in my CMAK scenarios, Monwar.

The nice thing about the historical detail is that you don't have to read it if you don't want to do so.

You can just skip it. Like you, however, I believe that an understanding of what really happened gives you a greater appreciation for what the scenario designer is trying to demonstrate.

I sometimes feel that when there is little or no history that maybe (I said "maybe") the designer did not properly do his homework.

Of course, some are designers, not writers, but still quoting some sources for further reading can't hurt.

I love to set the atmosphere before you start. I like that feeling and don't have that "lost" sensation when I start a battle.

You'll see plenty of this in my scenarios in CMAK. Let me know what you think...WB

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What the heck. Here is an example of the kind of briefing I like.

Maybe I should not post this. Well, they can fire me, but they can't cut my pay ;)


A Ranger Last Stand

From North Africa and through Sicily the theory of an elite army force called Rangers had proven to be a wise investment. Led by Colonel William O. Darby, the Rangers had picked up a US tradition dating back to revolutionary times and Rogers Rangers.

After prolonged procrastination at Anzio, the Allied forces on the beaches had lost the golden opportunity to go straight to Rome. Now German forces were converging on the beaches with the plan of driving the enemy into the Mediterranean. The Fifth Army commanded by General Mark Clark, was under a lot of pressure to break this stranglehold.

One of these efforts involved three US Ranger Battalions that were to infiltrate enemy lines and take the key town of Cisterna. This would block the highways leading to Anzio and provide an adequate jumping off spot for a move to the north.

The attack would take place near dawn after an all nigh forced march by the Rangers. Moving in the darkness, the 1st and 3rd Rangers would provide flank protection for the 4th. It was the latter's job to spearhead the attack on Cisterna. Since their attack was one of infiltration, no armor, artillery or air support would be provided.

Suddenly the 4th Ranger Battalion, in the lead, came under heavy fire, as did the units on either side of the Ranger attack. Suddenly the Ranger battalions found themselves extended far beyond their lines and facing an armored assault with strong infantry support.

The Rangers had been in ticklish situations before, but they faced nearly insurmountable odds now.

Historical Outcome:

All during the night, advancing tanks and Panzergrenadiers, passing through Cisterna and headed to Anzio were met head on by the Rangers, 4th Battalion. They were tenacious in their defenses and fought like wild men.

But even the bravest, under such conditions and against such odds, could not hold out. With the supporting Raider battalions pinned down and unable to assist, they were doomed. Their heroic fight at Cisterna, however, did slow the advance of the Panzers and made the troops at the Anzio beachhead aware of the danger.

After this nightmarish struggle, the 4th Battalion ceased to exist. Many were killed. Many others were taken prisoner. This particular battalion was never reconstituted. Darby passed into history but the Rangers lived on.

They would be seen again at Normandy, throughout Europe, and the Pacific. They would continue to fight in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and are today alive and well as a vital part of the armed services of the United States.


Darby's Rangers: We Led the Way, Darby

To Fight with Intrepidity, Lock

Rangers in WW2, Black

Raiders or Elite Infantry, Greenwood

Backwater War, Hoyt

The Mediterranean and the Middle East, C.J.C. Moloney

There's a War to be Won, G. Perret

US Army Special Operations in World War II, Hogan

US Army Rangers and LLRP Units, 1942-1987, Osprey

US Army in WW2, Salerno to Cassino, Center of Military History, US Government Printing Office

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Originally posted by kump:

Now look what you did. Such a beautiful scenario description just makes CMAK even harder to wait for.

Speaking as one of your many fans WBWilder, your extra care and knowledge with your scenarios and descriptions are greatly enjoyed and admired.

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I have noticed that designers vary greatly on this issue. Usually I like to be able to read at least a snappy to-the-point summary of the essentials. A well-written work about the family history of Gefreiter Schultz may well be interesting reading, but also difficult to find the information that you need. It should, for instance, help you to determine what the scenario is like, so if you're looking for a certain type of scenario, you can just read the briefing. Of course that doesn't rule out the inclusion of one's master theses about the causes and consequences of the second world war, but if reading the briefing takes longer than playing through the scenario, some balance is missing.

In my own scenarios I usually try to offer compact background ("Once upon a time in Europe...") and situational ("The 112th Tank Brigade is defending Ulyanovsk...") briefings in the general briefing. The Allied and Axis specific briefings tend to be longer, more "personal" so to say. But I probably couldn't write a novel to accompany them. You can't demand with a scoop from someone who's only got a spoonful! ;)

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The ASL-style scenario briefings are definitely my prefered choice (see Wild Bill's example above). They're short, concise, give a good overview as to what lead to the battle and what's expected, as well as a nice description of the results.

But what's best about it is the references. If you want more, you can get all that you want.


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Thanks gentlemen!

That is very encouraging and it incites me to try to do an even better job of it.

I appreciate it.

Of course, you didn't open the scenario to read a book! We designers must remember that. :eek:

Still, getting in the mood is half the fun. I'll leave that one right there. Make of it what you will ;)

And the nice thing is that it is at the end so you don't have to read it if you don't want to do so.

For those who can't get tons of info, just give the player what you can, plus where the idea for the scenario came from. It lends credibility to what you are trying to do.

You'll like the Rangers, Garry.

Well, since we are "in the mood," try this one ;)


On November 17th, 1941, an event later immortalized by the movie, "The Desert Fox" occurred. Just a few hours before the initiation of Operation Crusader in the middle of November 1941, the SAS, a secret British commando group, raided what was presumed to be the headquarters of General Rommel to kill him.

Intelligence reports indicated that he was using a large building at Bed Littoria, some 200 miles from the front lines. Approaching in the veiled blackness, the British were challenged by a German sentry. They replied in fluent German.

The sentry then thought they were simply DAK troops lost who had wandered into the complex and did nothing. One of the SAS men drew close and suddenly fired on the sentry with his pistol, killing him instantly.

The group then rushed threw the entire building, kicking open doors, firing their Sten guns, and tossing grenades as they went. As they reached the second floor of the building, they were met at the top of the steps with a vicious volley of German automatic fire.

The British officer leading the mission went down, stitched across the middle. The remaining SAS men made a quick retreat and vanished into the darkness.

Historical Outcome:

Four German soldiers, two of them officers, were killed in the raid. Rommel, however, was not there. He had only recently moved his headquarters to another location and left the building to officers and men of the Quartermaster troops of his Afrika Korps. Once again the Desert Fox had worked his magic and narrowly escaped death.

It had been one of many noble efforts of these secretive heroes on both sides to help steer the course of the war to their side.


Rommel's North Africa Campaign, Greene

Rommel's War in Africa, Heckmann

Rommel, Lewin

The Rommel Papers, Hart

Rommel, Battles and Campaigns, Macksey

Afrika Korps, Macksey

Foxes of the Desert, Carell

The Desert War, Editor: Bromall

Afrika Korps at War (2 Vol) Forty

Rommel's Greatest Victory, Mitcham

Fighting the Desert Fox, Delaney

[ September 29, 2003, 10:38 AM: Message edited by: Wild Bill Wilder ]

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Originally posted by Berlichtingen:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by 86smopuim:

Computer Player free to setup/stick to scenario default

Best played as Axis/Allied

These two bits of information are critical.

Unless told otherwise, always play the attacker </font>
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Originally posted by Harv:

Honestly, how difficult can it be to add a line in the briefing stating the designer's preferences/intentions for the scenario? Especially for those people who are unaware that they should always play the attacker (newbies and/or people who don't read the forum immediately come to mind).

Damn skippy Harv. Back in college I took some creative writing seminars. One point that was drilled home that the author's intentions do not mean squat to the reader.

Translated to CM terms: Do not presume the player knows what you are thinking when you make a battle. If it is intended to work only 2 player, make that much clear. If one side should not be touched as the ai, make it crystal clear. It takes but 30 seconds to add to the briefing, and goes alot farther for enjoyment than writing a 32 page thesis for an initial briefing.

Of course, the matter of players following such advice is an issue for a different debate.

Regarding briefings, my personal opinion is that everything before the side briefings is advertising copy. Keep it short, sweet but detailed enough to grab the player. People generally do not like reading on the screen, especially rather rough fixed-width fonts. Or at least I never did.


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Originally posted by Wild Bill Wilder:

What the heck. Here is an example of the kind of briefing I like.

Maybe I should not post this. Well, they can fire me, but they can't cut my pay ;)


A Ranger Last Stand


Ya know, I had this sneaking suspicion that you would be doing up a scenario based on the Rangers at Cisterna...
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