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Or - Infantry fighting in CM from an attritionist perspective

The apparently natural way most players think about infantry fighting in CM revolves around maneuver concepts and movement. You see where your men are on a map. You see the bodies of cover on that map. You think in terms of owned areas of cover, how far your men have reached. The problem appears to be, getting men from this body of cover to that one. Infantry in the open is thought of as a tactical crime, unless clear of all enemy observation in dead ground. Infantry's purpose appears to be staking an ownership claim to a piece of cover. The means of achieving that purpose appears to be, various movement orders timed properly. Since moving infantry seems highly vulnerable, other arms are enlisted to help it achieve these movements. The coordination of all arms appears directed at allowing easier movement for the infantry. Enemy positions are thought of as obstacles to movement; you take down specific positions to enable infantry to move from A to B. When an open area is covered by enemy fire, one thinks of movement there as "prohibited". Infantry's leading characteristics in this way of thinking are (1) its ability to move through any sort of terrain and (2) an apparent extreme brittleness under fire, unless in excellent cover.

There is a certain sense in all of that, but it is not how I use infantry in CM, not how I think about it. I think infantry can do a lot more than this, but to do it one has to rethink its strengths. With "firepower lenses" on, even the reason to move infantry looks different.

What do I mean by firepower lenses? I mean a certain bookkeepers attitude, that is paying less attention to the locations of units on the map and more attention to all the various numbers and categories the screen is throwing at you. Imagine each turn you got a spreadsheet that recorded unit states on both sides, but no map. There might be an entry for "nearest spotted enemy unit" with a number next to it in meters. And you then watch these spreadsheets update each turn, through the course of the battle. You see ammo counters tick down, morale states fluctuate, casualty counts accumulate here and there, ranges to known enemies decline, some "knocked out" entries spreading through the listed vehicles and guns. Imagine there were additional cumulative entries for each time the unit fired, that recorded the FP it applied (or ammo round expended, range) and the target cover (or type, aspect for a vehicle).

Now, think of all your in game decisions and orders as sloppy control knobs trying to dial in things that make those entries move in ways that work better. Every turn, you get some report - so and so many friendlies hit, so and so many enemy rounds expended, so and so many enemy hit, so and so many friendly rounds expended. If this sort of thing already sounds dull as dishwater, recall that you enjoy winning in CM. All this numerical stuff might tell you something about what is really going on.

From an attritionist's perspective, the goal in all CM fights is to destroy the enemy force. Objectives will take care of themselves, because dead soldiers don't hold flags. As a force loses units it falls apart, its various arms fail to protect each other or to deal with their specialized enemy. Those enemies then pick their opponents among the remaining force, going for the most lopsided match ups combined arms relationships allow. Routed men can't protect each other, the few remaining shooters attract all the attention and go down in turn. An edge in the overall firefight tends to snowball, to keep running and accelerating whichever way it first broke. The attritionist expects this fire dominance aspect of CM fights to determine the ultimate outcome - not which forces own which buildings or blocks of woods at the midgame - and analyses everything that happens on a CM battlefield with a view to getting it to break his way. Destroy the enemy, and flags will take care of themselves.

Well that's nice, but how do I destroy the enemy force? And isn't he trying to do the same thing to me? How is watching a lot of numbers flap around going to help me think about this any differently?

Start by noticing the most obvious things about them. Live enemies stays flat or goes down. Ammo stays flat or goes down. Men in good order as opposed to suppressed or routed can go either way - fire makes it go downward and rally makes it go back up. Essentially only fire makes enemies go down in loss terms or in morale terms. Aside from occasional losses to team members, ammo basically goes down when it is fired. Notice, some of it also becomes pointless when the unit that had it dies, or nearly so if the unit routs so thoroughly it is unlikely to recover, or have any time left after it does. And ammo declines in impact if the unit involved takes losses, in the case of squad infantry. Some ammo is left unexpended at the end of fights - often because portions of the winning side were not needed, among units routed earlier before expending theirs, occasionally a bit left for units engaged that saved some on shortened arcs etc.

The basic relation remains, firepower is put out by live men as long as they are alive, only up to the limit of their overall ammo. It tends to end near zero, as does the living and effective portion of the losing side - while the winning side is generally left with half or more of his force.

One can immediately see that the key to wrecking the other guy is keeping your own men alive long enough to deliver their ammo, and then just delivering that ammo, preferably under favorable conditions. Notice, this is far more important to eventual victory than the possession of terrain at the midgame. In fact, the possession of terrain is important only as a favorable or unfavorable condition for ammo delivery, in the sense that fire into cover is less effective than fire into the open, and in the sense that men with cover are more likely to live long enough to get their shots off.

The next thing to notice is that the winning side sees his ammo counters and the enemy strength decline at approximately the same rate - both from full to near zero - while the losing side only achieves about half this rate - his ammo goes to zero along with his strength, but only takes half the enemy with it. The ratio, enemy dealt with permanently vs. portion of ammo expended, emerges as the key attritionist ratio. If your figure on that score is twice as high as the enemy's, then you are winning. Regardless of positions on the map, regardless even of how much shooting you have done so far (provided you will live to and have time to do your own before the end). If the enemy shoots off half his ammo and doesn't hurt you, you have gained on him, probably decisively.

Now notice that the one variable we saw going both ways was morale state, which goes up due to rally. What determines rally? Who rallies, from what, and what effect does it have on the spreadsheet entries? Ammo does not rally. Tanks generally die or live - panic is a rare state for them and one they generally get into only because they are about to die anyway. Guns and mortar teams are effected by pin results and can recover from them. But a located gun is often subjected to continual fire by nasty weapons until it is destroyed, and mortars caught in the open are frequently knocked out, while when not so caught they are rarely fired on at all. They run out of ammo, not morale, typically.

What rallies the most is squad infantry and MG teams. They are continually subject to FP, infantry resolution fire. They don't suffer "knocked out" results. They lose men gradually, retaining much of their effectiveness if their morale recovers (a squad that keeps its LMG is mostly out a few rifles and still a squad. An MG out a few men loses ammo if it moves, but fires as well as ever). These types readily pin and occasionally panic or rout, but also regularly recover from fire effects. Compared to them, everything else has a "breakaway" quality, live or dead, with ammo or without.

How does rally work with squad infantry and MGs? The first thing to notice about it is, the shallower the morale "dip", the faster the recovery. A drop to altered typically disappears in seconds. Shaken and cautious results are typically gone the following minute unless something worse happens than happened last turn. Pin results can last several minutes or disappear in one, and units subject to them do not accomplish anything. But the unit continues under orders and recovers fully in a few minutes, if freed from enemy fire. Panic is an intermediate state, without lasting morale damage (the "rattled" light), but dangerous because the unit stops responding to orders, and occasionally does something stupid that gets it killed. It can take many minutes to recover from or pass quickly. Broken and routed results are much more serious, sometime lasting the entire fight, or requiring 5 minutes clear of all action to recover to a rattled "pinned", and several more minutes to be ready to move out. A unit that suffers these is typically out of the immediate action and can only be brought back 10 minutes later or so, if circumstances prevent any further harm from coming its way.

Now notice, these are per unit relationships, with absolute times. 10 units all at alerted will be entirely recovered in less than a minute. 1 unit routed will not be recovered for 10 minutes. Thus, morale hits that are spread over more units, and over more turns, have far less lasting effect than deep morale hits to a few units in succession. If I could direct my enemy's fire so that he puts all my men at "cautious" every other minute, but never gets any of them to "pinned", I could absorb all of his fire with no lasting morale effects to speak of. Spread pain is recovered from much faster than concentrated damage. This means - I want the enemy spreading his fire over my entire force. And I want to concentrate my own fire on some of his units until they are well and truly busted, and then shift to the next lot and bust them too. But notice, I do not want to waste my ammo trying to kill off already routed men, to the last man. The best target is somebody at "cautious" I can push lower still. The worst targets are ones at routed I don't need to hurt further, or up at OK and in good cover at range, than I can only play footsie with but not actually harm.

Next I need to consider the conditions under which firepower is applied. Am I shooting at the right targets for the type of weapon I have? Or am I blowing my precious ammo on ineffective targets, targets I can't seriously hurt, and thus handing my enemy a faster rate of ammo decline for me, than of units left decline for him? To use my ammo well, I need to focus on choices of targets that give me effect for rounds expended. And not on other considerations, like taking that hill or doing everything I can to take out that one tank.

Do I fire an off board FO at a tank, hoping for an immobilization from a near miss? No. Do I fire my ATRs at buttoned medium tanks at range? No. Do my MGs fire at enemy 450m away in scattered trees, because only they have the reach for it, and I must do something to suppress that heavy weapons grouping? No. Do I area fire at that sound contact hoping to suppress him? No. Do I fire a big smoke mission the instant someone shoots at me and I can't spot him, because to be shot at without being able to reply is intolerable? No. Does my infantry open fire at 400 yards? No.

MGs have the ammo to fire at infantry in the open at long range. But it is a waste of their ammo to fire at unpinned men in cover at long range. Squad infantry has the ammo to blast enemy infantry in cover at 100-150m, and to help against enemy in the open at 250m. But not farther. ATRs are needed for hurt light armor they can actually hurt. ATGs wait for flank shots. HE from tanks is dumped on enemy infantry. FOs target IDed platoon sized positions in woods. The principle is always, what can this shooter hurt the most with its shots, that the enemy has anywhere in his force? Don't throw everything you have at the one Tiger, watching it all bounce - that is how the Tiger will kill you. Throw it at everything around the Tiger until it is alone - that is how you can kill it. Always take the best shot for long term odds. Remember, winners destroy the whole enemy force, leaving nothing or next to nothing. There isn't an enemy unit you want to leave alive, so every good shot is worth taking. You are exposing a shooter and expending precious firepower, so be sure you kill something with it. If you don't think you will, hold your fire. Firing chances will come.

The next most important consideration is many on few engagement. Don't fight fair. You want to gang up on small elements of the enemy force, and pound the stuffing out of them in a few minutes only. Beyond hope of recovery. You can "pursue by fire" with one weak shooter - a high ammo MG at range e.g. - to prevent any rally. Then and only then do you need new targets. The fewer targets in LOS, the less the reply fire. A unit you pin the turn it opens up and kill 1-2 turns after that, dies taking all its ammo along with. That is a "twofer". A unit that has already hosed you until it is dry is a low priority - worth the knock out value and presumably vulnerable, but hardly urgent. You want to walk your lethal ranges over a few of the enemy at a time. If he has other units that can fire at you but under poor conditions, "drink" his ammo and call it a victory.

You think of your force as a firepower emitter, not as an occupier of ground. What can it see, and see from close enough to really hurt it, close enough for a full ID and to make the ammo expenditure worth it? A subformation should be thought of as having a "melting radius", an area around it in which it can eat enemies. Beyond its efficient lethality radius it has some harassment radius - it can fire at such distances, to pin somebody in the open e.g. But it can't afford to keep it up for long, because it won't be killing whole units faster than its own ammo counters are dropping. It is best to let a few high ammo ranged shooters handle that sort of thing - MGs, or vehicles with huge ammo loads, or some hard to spot light guns.

What is an attack in firepower thinking? It is a choice to expend sufficient ammo or endurance from the integrated friendly force, to wreck a chosen portion of the enemy force. I will destroy that platoon with 105mm FO fire. I will destroy that block using two minutes of HE from these two tanks. I will annihilate the defenders in that wood by using half the ammo and morale "wind" of B company in a close assault. One is managing a dwindling budget of own-forces-with-ammo remaining, allocated against live-enemies-remaining. A series of spending decisions on such matters are to be strung together, so as to first disarticulate the enemy force, wreck its coordination and firing conditions, and then to murder the disorganized remainder. An attack may be initiated by a movement meant to establish LOS between planned shooters and target, or to achieve the desired firing conditions (cover differential, range, many on few match up, etc). Or it may be a pure firing decision, with such LOS etc conditions already existing.

A movement is only made when it furthers such a decision, or removes the threat of one from the enemy's arsenal.

The decision is achieved by fire. To fire effectively you must live long enough to expend your ammo, and spend it well. Everything else bends to those.

I could elaborate on various implications this has in infantry fighting in particular, how infantry attacks, its great strength from rally power, enourmous close range firepower, the value of shortened arcs, integrated fire by platoons and half-companies, the company as the proper unit of infantry maneuver - but perhaps I should pause first. The above is plenty for a first view of this approach.

[ March 27, 2005, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Jason, I'd like to ask you a related question. I apologize if it is unsuitably off topic.

In a recent post, you advocated fewer, more evenly divided flags than is typical in order to increase the emphasis on casualties (and decrease the emphasis on flags) in the final victory calculations. I agree with the sentiment. Research from the following thread...

www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=23;t=008074

indicates that...

Assault Battles:

Flag Points range from 100%-120% of the defender's purchase points.

Average flag placement is always very near the defender's map edge.

Defender set-up zone is 40% of the map.

Attacker set-up zone is 20% of the map.

Attack Battles:

Flag Points range from 70%-90% of the defender's purchase points.

Average flag placement is fairly centralized in the defender's zone.

Defender set-up zone is 40% of the map.

Attacker set-up zone is 20% of the map.

Probe Battles:

Flag Points range from 50%-70% of the defender's purchase points.

Average flag placement is in the forward portion of the defender's zone.

Defender set-up zone is 35% of the map.

Attacker set-up zone is 25% of the map.

Meeting Engagement:

Flag Points range from 30%-50% of the players' purchase points.

Average flag placement is in the center of the map.

Set-up zone is 15% of the map for both sides.

In your opinion, what is the appropriate amount of flag points as a percentage of defender points in the various CM battle types to more properly emphasize casualties in victory calculations?

What are your thoughts about set-up zones and varying flag placement per battle type?

Do 8 small flags rather than 2 big and 2 small, for example, result in a less effective performance by the AI?

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The usual high-quality 'essay' we've come to expect from you, JasonC. Your approach is something I must admit I simply had not considered - I intend to get to work testing it out now! However, I have a couple of questions:

If the eventual objective of a battle is the annihilation of the OPFOR, and the best way to do this is through local superiority (as you were basically saying), then wouldn't firing at long range with MGs, HE and so on be useful in disrupting enemy movement so as to allow Firepower ascendancy in the required area?

If we view the battlefield primarily as a spreadsheet, devoid of map, and attempt to purely gain firepower ascendancy, is that not ignoring the advantage of flanking infantry and the resultant morale hit the flanked unit takes? Isn't maneuver the best way to produce a flanking position, and therefore the massive increase in effectiveness of firepower worth viewing the infantry battle as often a case of movement?

Obviously, not criticising, just wanting to understand your theory more completely...

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I believe this statement From JasonC is very insightful as to how firepower works and how you as a player need to think of it in the terms of the game. I just crushed a opponant today because he had the confidence of holding a village objective and had open ground between me and him in the center section of the map, he learned the hard way that firepower is more important than the terrian he held. He could not stop me from leap froging my squads up the one flank of the village because of proper firepower, placed right out in open terrain.

I could never explain these concepts as JasonC has but I in my own way look at the game battlefield in a similar way. In a sence, he is trying to teach others here how to play better, I guess he isnt getting enough good competition.

Good post and I enjoyed picking out and reading your insights as too platying the game.

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Originally posted by Migo441:

Jason, I'd like to ask you a related question. I apologize if it is unsuitably off topic.

In a recent post, you advocated fewer, more evenly divided flags than is typical in order to increase the emphasis on casualties (and decrease the emphasis on flags) in the final victory calculations. I agree with the sentiment. Research from the following thread...

www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=23;t=008074

indicates that...

Assault Battles:

Flag Points range from 100%-120% of the defender's purchase points.

Average flag placement is always very near the defender's map edge.

Defender set-up zone is 40% of the map.

Attacker set-up zone is 20% of the map.

[etc]

It's worth noting that these guidelines apply only to QBs. Scenario designers can and do totally ignore them. They can designate something that looks like an ME as a Probe just to get the AI to behave in particular ways. You can't infer much about a hand designed scenario from the "battle type" designation.

GaJ.

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Migo - I haven't thought that much about your specific question, but can give you my first impressions. I think the total quantity of flag points is closest to right in MEs and probes.

Actual MEs might be conducted even without flags, with only 1 in the middle, or with flags evenly divided, 1 in each "backfield" and 2 near the center-line. The present ME system of awarding huge gains for possession of the center line encourages reckless mashing together of the opposing forces.

As for map division, the limited space given to defenders is a pet peeve of mine. (It makes the placement of obstacles particularly unrealistc - AT mines practically on the MLR etc). Also, sides do not need to start so far apart.

In assaults I'd given the defender 70% of the map, 60% in attacks, 50% in probes. The attacker can have 20% and no man's land can just be thinner than it typically is today. Nothing will force the two sides to start at their forward edge.

As for flag placement, up to half could be deep for assaults but the other half should not be. It should be possible to split flag points without capturing the entire enemy position. In probes, the defender should have one flag deep, and equally one flag could be in no man's land at set up. It should be possible to split the flag points by merely positional play, without seriously displacing the defense at all. And the defender should not be nailed to the start line, as though he automatically loses if he takes a single step back.

Probes, incidentally, are best for modeling the sort of fighting I was speaking of in that other thread. The main idea can simply be to inflict losses on the enemy, without suffering any to speak of oneself. The defender should not be given huge point advantages simply because a modestly stronger attacker chose not to press home today. Probes are opportunistic affairs. Grabbing terrain is nice but not a requirement and no substitute for inflicting outsized losses. On the other side, a probe defender should be allowed to give ground without serious consequences, if he also manages to give the attackers a bloody nose.

If the battle ends in the place it can be expected to end the majority of the time, given the odds, flag points should -divide- and do so roughly evenly. With a slight edge to the defender in the highest odds cases, only. Having 500 points on the map is not a play balance or incentive problem if many fights can be expected to divide them 200 vs. 300, or 300 vs. 100 with 100 unawarded.

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Destroy the opposing force, yes.

"the best way to do this is through local superiority (as you were basically saying)"

It was the third thing I said on the subject, not the first. The principle of mass matters in attrition fighting, but it is not the be-all that panzerblitzers want it to be. (By "panzerblitzers" I mean wargamers who operate by making a big stack of their best units and moving that stack around vigorously inside the enemy force, with little other tactical thought involved).

For one thing, I placed enourmous emphasis on ammo expenditure questions. Limited ammo is the chief CM constraint on killing lots of enemies in sequence with the same fist. Especially for the infantry. In one of my passing examples, I spoke of spending half a company's endurance to kill the enemy in one wood. It is a realistic example. Rally is the main reason depth matters in infantry fighting. But this basic constraint of limited "wind" in ammo terms, is a close second.

You see why I call it attrition thinking. Even when you kill the enemy and lose next to nobody yourself, there is a serious cost involved on your own side. It always takes ammo. Which is scarce. One is always operating in a system of exchanges, in which everything comes at a price. One wants better prices rather than worse ones. But there is nothing free, and the whole approach is not based on pursuit of free advantages. It expects to pay for everything it gets, to get shot at, to sweat to achieve anything. But for the enemy to run out first, due to strict discipline over the exchange ratios accepted.

"then wouldn't firing at long range with MGs, HE and so on be useful in disrupting enemy movement"

Long range MGs and light guns, or particular vehicles that happen to have very high ammo loads, I spoke of as appropriate long range harassment shooters. They have the ammo depth for it and can be stealthy doing it (or reposition in the case of the vehicles). You aren't throwing away so much.

But HE, serious HE, has to do a lot more than disrupt enemy movement to pay for itself. It is about the most valuable firepower asset you've got. Seeing in it only a range or asymmetry to reach enemies a long way off or where they can't hit back, is exactly not the way to think about it in this strategy.

It must be used when the target is as close to perfect for the weapon as possible, with a view to directly smashing as many of the enemy as possible. The decision is being sought by fire, and HE is the biggest fire asset you've got. (The only other comparable to it is close range infantry firepower - which works best on targets already hit by the HE). Spending it on anything other than the best annihiliation fire targets you get in the whole battle, is a waste. It is the center of gravity of an attrition strategy. It cannot be dissipated on secondary missions.

Long range harassing fire does not seriously prevent enemy movements, when the enemy has a serious force to move. It does slow them. A company can advance through the fire of a half a dozen MGs, in open steppe, and make 25m per minute average, with minimal permanent losses. Any cover or fewer shooters and the rate easily doubles. Companies take 10-15 minutes to move from A to B when under fire, but they get there.

Can it make sense to e.g. park 2 tanks someplace where their vehicle MGs divide wood A from wood B, with the idea of then fighting only the enemy in B with your own infantry, while those in A can't help them? Sure. A standard piece of "disarticulation". Doesn't change anything about the basic strategy being pursued.

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Well, one factor in CM that works against the maneuverist camp is that there isn't any substantial penalty in morale for getting "cut off" from other off-map friendly forces. In particular, losing your line of communications (i.e., supply or retreat) doesn't dislodge an enemy force.

To take the canonical meeting engagement situation, if one side does the "flag rush" into the middle of the map, and the other side secures all of the map edges, it is the surrounded force in the center that will win. In real life, surrounded forces tended to do really poorly. The great pockets on the East Front and the Falaise pocket are great examples. The situations that go the other way are much less common, but tend to be greatly celebrated (Bastogne, for example) in part because they are such great achievements.

Many early campaigns, such as those of Frederick the Great, involved a lot of maneuver and fairly little fighting. If the lines of communication could be threatened, then the forces would withdraw. Granted this is on a larger scale than CM battles, but the lack of any real need to keep open lines of communcations gives a disconnect between these levels of conflict.

One very rarely sees troops running back in panic because their position has been flanked. Instead, they just turn in place and face the new attack, pretty much none the worse for the surprise.

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I think of maneuver strategies slightly differently. Are they higher variance? Yes. Always a gamble? No, they needn't be. Always a weapon of a global odds underdog? No. And an attrition strategy is possible without global odds, if you have sufficient strengths in other respects. I often employ an attrition strategy even from the defender's side of the field.

Clean kills are nice if you can get them. Basing your whole strategy on achieving them can be risky. To the extent that a maneuver minded commander is chasing lopsided firing conditions, I see a reasonable objective (killing enemies cheaply) and some unrealistic expectations about how easy it will be. The rest of maneuver thinking strikes me as trying to avoid the necessity to seriously fight the enemy force. Which can sometimes be achieved, but in my opinion rather rarely, against modest but competent play.

Personally I make no pretence of being capable of much beyond modest but competent play. (There are plenty of others much better at CM than I am, and I wish I had five times as much time to play it). If I pull off an occasional brilliancy I put it down to luck. I never bank on it. My basic attitude, I suppose. I fully expect my forces to get messed up, especially when I am attacking (I am willing to move in the open etc). I just plan on messing up the enemy more, in the long run.

I don't think anybody can expect to rout significant portions of the enemy force without seriously fighting them, absorbing their ammo, and spending one's own. I'll cover a limited exception to this below - the armor war, sometimes. One can sometimes avoid fighting a portion of the enemy force, while still accomplishing the mission, perhaps including fighting another portion of it. Not routing the part you don't fight, but leaving it ineffective and out of position.

The simplest version of a maneuver strategy is a wing attack. You screen half the enemy with next to nothing, and hit the other half with basically your whole force. You don't try to deal with the other half at all, and don't need to. A slightly more ambitious version is turning one flank, which means starting narrower than a wing attack and turning it into a wing attack from two sides. You still only try to kill half the enemy or take half the board. You do it from the outside edge, inward.

On a big enough map you can get arbitrarily more sophisticated about it than this. On small ones, it tends not to matter - the defender turns right, takes two steps, and you still have to fight him. On a big map, particularly if you are winning the armor war, you can sometimes tie down the various bits of the enemy and only eat the ones you know you can outmatch. And stop when you run out of ammo or wind, just containing the rest without actually engaging them closely.

The point is just that you avoid a large part of the enemy firepower by not fighting that part of the force. And try to avoid the other half by killing the other half before they can shoot off all their ammo at you. Which means you have to be quick about it from the moment you really engage, because infantry can empty their mags completely in 5-10 minutes.

Armor is the best at all of this. It has the resilence to move and fight on short time scales. It keeps its power after a win, instead of being ragged out and out of ammo. Portions break away but the rest stay capable. Well handled, it can sometimes get the lopsided clean kills a maneuverist needs to run even with an attritionist in the attritionist's own favorite ratios.

I don't think BB and AK infantry is particularly good at it. I don't think it is what that infantry shines at, its underlying power. BB and AK infantry may occasionally follow up a success created by other arms, finish somebody off, within a maneuver strategy. But it is fundamentally in the back seat. Armor is in the front seat. You darn well better win the armor war.

If you end up with 2 Panthers to nothing, you can maneuver to your heart's content. You probably don't need to, but you can if you like. You don't have to worry about the enemy infantry's depth and rally power if you can wade into men in nothing more than brush and rocky in open desert, with a whole platoon of functioning medium tanks.

That is a lopsided combined arms match up, that can sometimes be arranged by a suitably clever (or lucky), early armor war outcome. If that is your overall plan, then you bend rules to shift that critical early armor fight your way. An FO does a smoke mission to take 2 enemy tanks out of the firefight in the key minute. You deliberately sacrifice infantry to draw out guns before the tanks crest. You treat your light armor not as a source of late game MG firepower, but as bait. If it all works there is much rejoicing. And somebody has to win in any given game of craps, too.

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tar - armies do not melt because somebody drove around them. Somebody has to fight them to annihilation, in those pockets, as they try to break out etc. Pocket fighting works because it creates favorable conditions for annihilation battle - the enemy has to attack you and is typically doing so with limited ammo etc. Not as a substitute for annihilation battle. And on the scale of CM fights, it had no such effects. At that scale, fronts often did not exist and nobody cared. The forces were layered to a depth of 20 miles. If some enemy got 600m beyond the forward men, it meant it was Tuesday, not that all was lost.

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I am always one to wring any advantage out of the game system, and this results in a bookkeeping style of play. I always figure FP x exposure x number of enemies etc. etc. and how to get the most out of an attack, which naturally includes concentrating fire on one squad at a time. So I can't really argue with any the logic here, but I have to disagree on a couple of points.

FOW and the rich spectrum of variables produced in any CM game do not simply make it a spreadsheet of ammo vs. casualties vs. morale. Movement and combined arms tactics are at least as important as these simple infantry principles even if they are just to facilitate them.

I find that although squad infantry can rally from a slightly rattled state, it is not really a homogeneous scale from OK to PANIC! The difference between the one turn it takes to recover from pinned and the 8, 12 or infinite turns it takes to recover from panic are night and day. Panicking a squad is really about as good as knocking out a gun or vehicle. Although they may recover, the organisation of your attack is pretty much gone, and the squad is not really combat effective.

Next, I very rarely run out of ammo in a CM style fight. I sometimes have a squad that has to be taken out of the line due to low ammo and high casualties, and very rarely a whole platoon must be taken out of the line for low ammo, but mostly I find midway through the game the advantage is already taken by someone via movement rather than true attrition. Time constraints and even matching of forces in CM make this style of play difficult.

So I disagree that ammo is such a vital consideration. Casualties and morale breakages will almost always be what ruins my squads and my opponent's long before the ammo is gone. The firepower advantage needed to break or kill his squads is gained by proximity to the enemy, covering fire and concentration of force, but also the terrain that you are able to occupy to minimise your own exposure. Of course even then a couple of big HE shells can turn the whole thing around in seconds.

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Originally posted by Hoolaman:

So I disagree that ammo is such a vital consideration.

I recall Walpurgis Nacht explaining how vital it was: that the key factor in winning was delivering all your ammo into the enemy most effecively. I took away the message that if you still have ammo left, and there are still enemy forces around, you probably haven't done as well as you could have.

Of course, it's never going to be "all" about ammo or "all" about manoevering. I think the reason for highlighting ammo thinking is because unlike manoeuvering it's not so intuitive.

The first thing you think of when you have some forces is where you are going to move them. It's much less obvious to think about how you are going to dispose of their ammo.

GaJ.

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"The difference between the one turn it takes to recover from pinned and the 8, 12 or infinite turns it takes to recover from panic are night and day. Panicking a squad is really about as good as knocking out a gun or vehicle."

Pin can last 2-3 minutes. Panic can pass in one. I regularly get full use out of men that panic at some point, and reasonable amounts out of about half my men that outright break. If you do not, as I well believe, maybe I know how to do something that you aren't doing. (More on that below).

"they may recover, the organisation of your attack is pretty much gone, and the squad is not really combat effective."

Loss of a squad never means the organization of my attack is pretty much gone, because I don't attack with infantry platoons. I consider a platoon an adequate scale of force to hold cover defensively, but not to attack. The company or occasionally in small scenarios most of a company, is the minimum. When 1-2 squads rout in a platoon attack, yeah it can disorganize your attack. When 1-2 squads rout in a company attack, it has no such impact.

The reason the company is the unit of offensive maneuver, is that its inherent resilence and depth are sufficient to let the hardest pressed guys take turns.

A company does not fight on a frontage of 3 platoons. More like 1 (if attacking), with an occasional 2nd as another helps the lead one. (2 is more typical on defense). Even the individual platoons are often deployed 2 by 2, not all on line.

My forward platoon isn't an attack. I already explained what an attack is - a decision to spend firepower. My lead platoon is a *shield*.

Crap gets thrown at it, it pins and maybe half of it breaks. I'm not counting on avoiding this. It won't stop me. The rest of the company behind them in the meantime are taking down the guys that did it to them. And some of them are pulling up level with them.

The hurt platoon is not asked to press an attack, or even to stop a counterattack. It is protected by a larger force, and given time to breath. Time in which much less is asked of them. 5 minutes later, they are a functioning platoon again. The company has this happening to one of its component platoons pretty much all the time. But the company as a company doesn't care. It always has 2 others up and firing. By the time you knock the next one down, the first is back on its feet.

A company contains a higher HQ, to gather men who have left their platoon HQs command radius. I don't have to delay the mission waiting for them. Or write them off, if I need to continue with the rest of the men.

I listen to my men when I attack. If a squad is panicking, it doesn't mean I continue the plan and write them off. It means "slow down, this is getting pretty hairy. Ask less of us". More men fire, fewer men move. The timetable goes back 2 minutes. My overall plan is painfully simple, not a taut rope, so I don't care that I'll reach A a little later. The men will get there when they are good and ready. Pushing will just make them come apart.

That is the conceptualization, now watch what it does to the spreadsheet. If my men are all in yellow morale states and a few are dipping deeper, I stop dialing down the range, and I dial up the rate of fire. Rally is a per unit time thing. Rally power can't be achieved by men at "OK" - they have no room to improve. They aren't absorbing enemy ammo. But a unit at "cautious" that waits a minute and recovers to OK, ate what was shot at him. I moderate my attack to the pace that keeps men in this condition. Continually rallying. Yes a few will get wailed on in concentrated fashion and break. But not everybody.

"I very rarely run out of ammo"

Then maybe your men should be moving less and firing more. Do they have to move this turn? Do they have a target they could hit? One that wouldn't be a pure waste of ammo. If they don't, by all means move them. But to a place where they will have one. It is not like it takes a long time.

Fos and on map mortars are dry in 4 minutes, typically (only Russian 50s last longer, and those only about 6 minutes).

Squad infantry runs dry in a couple minutes for SMGs close, 10 minutes for pure rifle types with solid range. Leaving some reserve for close defense on short arcs, most infantry can blow its ammo in 5-8 minutes. Fights don't last 5-8 minutes.

Maybe everyone is hiding for the first 5, maybe it is settled before the end. You still have 2-4 times the needed time to fire it all off. If you regularly don't, it means your squad infantry spends most of its time moving or hiding and very little of it firing.

MGs can fire for 15 minutes, occasionally more if they jam or pin from time to time. But they are also stealthy and have good range, so there is little reason to keep them quiet, if any enemy can be seen.

"mostly I find midway through the game the advantage is already taken by someone"

Who cares about an advantage? If you have rounds left and men standing up, you can hurt him. If what you mean is, you typically see the loser already lost within 10-15 minutes, then somebody is pushing way too hard. A company will conduct the approach march in that period of time, if under fire. In five minutes if it has cover or dead ground. But if your fights are settled in 15, nobody is using depth or listening to the men.

"even matching of forces in CM make this style of play difficult."

They aren't even in attacks. And in MEs, not everyone spends the same amount on infantry depth. Some people blow their arty early trying to disrupt enemy movements, instead of using it to thin the enemy infantry. Some people don't pay much attention to firing ranges or efficiencies, and just throw whatever they can at whatever furthers their plan or looks like it might get them ground. It is easy to outlast that sort of play. The idea is to have the last reserve. He can go jump on a flag if he wants to. Then he has to absorb every bullet I bought, meticulously delivered, and remain standing.

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Here is my diagnosis of the previous fellow's comments. It is a meeting engagement. Both sides race for the flags. One side necessarily gets there first. A brief flurry helps settle who this is. Now one side has gone stationary in cover. The other side is still racing, but not there yet. Many men are in the open, all are trying to move. "Oh, we must get out of the open", they reason. They press, hard, into the now stationary first occupiers.

The outcome is predictable. One side is stationary in cover and firing every 10 seconds. The other has most of his men moving, some panicked, many sneaking sideways ineffectually, a few hanging back but at range and looking at cover and not many of them. The guy in the open still, gets creamed. The guy sitting in the cover sees no reason to move. The creamed guy rallies a few remnants and any reserve he had, and faces 200m of open and intact unphased defenders in cover who now outnumber him 2 to 1.

Unless 150mm wrath of God reorders the battlefield, or some string of armor war luck rebalances the tables, the fight is well and truly settled. Victory to the guy who ran fast and got to the flags first.

What this sort of outcome actually depends on, is neither side having any ability to attack. The only ground that seems seizable, is as-yet unoccupied ground. As soon as there is contact, movement is prohibited - minor repositionings to tweak LOS, an occasional "dodge" after seeing a spotting round or to skulk away from a tank for a minute or two, that is all.

When someone with no confidence in the ability of his men to attack, sees himself getting caught out of cover, he panics and charges an intact position. He hopes for a coup de main. Fog of war furthers the hope - maybe only a few enemy are there yet, maybe we are really "firstest", with enough "most", anyway.

You can settle an ME in 10-15 minutes that way, sure. But there is nothing forced about it. The guy who is late doesn't need to rush. He can attack instead. "But it is suicide to attack, with infantry, over open". No, it simply isn't, not when you do it correctly. That doesn't mean get everyone on line and charge. It means all heavy weapons on overwatch, FO counting down on the target, a company column on a chosen route, advance drills, and 10-15 minutes to make it that far, not 2. With firepower and rally power doing the heavy lifting, not foot speed.

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Originally posted by GreenAsJade:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Hoolaman:

So I disagree that ammo is such a vital consideration.

I recall Walpurgis Nacht explaining how vital it was: that the key factor in winning was delivering all your ammo into the enemy most effecively. I took away the message that if you still have ammo left, and there are still enemy forces around, you probably haven't done as well as you could have.

Of course, it's never going to be "all" about ammo or "all" about manoevering. I think the reason for highlighting ammo thinking is because unlike manoeuvering it's not so intuitive.

The first thing you think of when you have some forces is where you are going to move them. It's much less obvious to think about how you are going to dispose of their ammo.

GaJ. </font>

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i play CM infantry battles pretty much from this "attritionist firepower perspective" IF i am trying to do my best to win the battle. the thing is, i find this style and these battles to be dull and unrealistic (annoying). i prefer to play CM infantry battles more as role play gaming, using realistic tactics even when i know it means i lose. i find it more fun somehow.

i think the main reason why the firepower perspective gives superior results is because the modelling of suppression and LOF is so weak (hardly exists) in CM. IMHO it ruins and breaks infantry battles as much as borg spotting ruins and breaks armor battles.

as is, you can have overwatch support advancing infantry THRU the advancing infantry. at the same time defensive fire is always just point fire which makes historical defensive use of MGs pointless. these two things combined makes historical defensive tactics meaningless. there is no point to try to have advanced or outpost positions, because defensive fire does not suppress enemy infantry the way it should. at the same time it's much more easier to support advancing infantry than it should be.

as is, you can have a company of infantry cross an open flat field while MGs are firing from the treeline. the advancing infantry may pin a bit, but the overwatch will hammer the MGs at the treeline.

in reality the overwatch couldn't hammer the MGs so easily, because friendly infantry would be in between. at the same time a single MG at the treeline could easily pin & brake companies of advancing enemy infantry. that is one of the reasons why you have advanced & outpost positions before the main line of resistance: enemy advance is stopped and enemy is forced to call in arty & other powers that be. the result is that enemy attack stalls long before it comes even close to the main line of resistance or the enemy is forced to commit his aces to the game prematuralely and most likely in wrong place.

i really hope that CMx2 fixes this LOF and suppression issue.

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Nice thread. I particularly like JasonC's post re. MEs, the point being that a good, realistic, non-gamey player should be able to defeat the gamey flag rusher. I lately played a frustrating TCP QB ME, in which my opponent rushed the flags, set up a line, while I moved forward with point, overwatch and trailing heavies. I made contact, and prepared firing lines and support groups, in the hope of methodically blasting his squads (with 44 Germans, StG armed) at 150-200 m. I blew it, with my usual mistake: dispersed forces, and tried to pull the trick off across the map, rather than in the Schwerpunkt (memo to self: there can't be TWO Schwerpunkte in a 800 point QB). It wouldn;t have been so bad if my opponent hadn't constantly offered patronizing advice throughout "If you don't play like me you'll never win" "Geting there first" etc etc.

*****

I do wonder to what extent the "spreadsheeting" modelizes anything resembling the real life WWII firefight, and at what level. Grunt ? Junior Officer ? Co. commander ? Battn ?

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URD - it is unrealistic to be able to fire right through the men ahead. But I'd attack the same way if I had to arrange angled overwatch fire. As for suppression, MGs can suppress pretty well as it is, and if they suppressed better I'd just use more time.

The defender's dilemma is that he can't *kill* the whole attacking force at long range, using only a small portion of his own force. It isn't suppression related. Defenders readily suppress attackers in BB and AK. Suppression just isn't decisive, because the point of an attritionist attack isn't to move.

If the attacker is depending on catching the defenders unprepared, on speed and surprise, then better suppression would help. But it doesn't help decisively, when his attack will succeed even without those things. In my experience BB and AK infantry attacks don't achieve them anyway. (Armor can. Very tight terrain can, just in the sense that nobody knows much of anything until they run smack into each other. Otherwise, no).

And this is not a modeling limitation. Defenders could not expect to have an OP line of 20 guys destroy an attacking company. Attackers did not need tanks or heavy artillery to get past such screens. It was quite sufficient to shoot back. With organic heavy weapons if the range was long, etc.

On it being hard to make an infantry company the unit of maneuver when all you have is a company of light infantry, it isn't hard at all. When you have one company, your attack has one count em one axis. No razzle, no dazzle. Right up the middle, or straight down the left side of the board. The plan doesn't get much more complicated than that.

If it runs into something unexpectedly nasty (sign of a bad choice), then the column veers a little around its stalled point platoon. That is all the adaptation a single company attack typically manages. Elaborate double envelopments after feints with subordinate missions to secure flag B etc, are not something to attempt with one company of light infantry.

Maybe the force has other non-infantry assets. A tank, or a platoon of them, or a few pieces of light armor. A base of fire from some guns or heavy weapons, maybe with an FO too. If so, the infantry part of the attack is still one company, one axis. Whether the rest come with or support from the start line, or in the case of the vehicles, try to do something slightly more maneuver-ee, is a separate question.

Occasionally in the smallest fights I will detach a "patrol", consisting of one split squad and my worst platoon HQ, sometimes with an LMG or ATR attached. To look like a platoon someplace else, and provide wider eye coverage. If I have a bit more than a company, my overwatch might have a screening platoon - often reduced a squad or two - along with heavy weapons.

The extra squads from these go with the company HQ as another platoon of the main body. The small other roles are defensive and screening, not attacking. They do not attempt to take ground, certainly not occupied ground. The result is still, a whole company of infantry attacks, or infantry does not attack.

Adam tells me that my infantry companies can still be used to deliver maneuverist attacks, striking quickly at spread out platoons and disappearing again right afterward. In a couple of minutes, not 10-15, and without either using much ammo themselves or needing to withstand any from the enemy.

If he had told me that *his* infantry companies regularly do this, he would have stayed on safer ground. *My* infantry companies, in BB and AK, do not achieve it. My infantry companies do not dance, they plod. They are three minutes late. The forward platoon is looking for lost spoons or calling for their mothers. If nobody has fired on them yet it is only because they have just reached the TRP, or are about to send the point half squad into the kill sack.

I expect them to accomplish the mission I give them anyway. I give them a mission they can accomplish anyway. Delivering multiple stealthy hit and run attacks in succession on spread out platoons caught napping, is not something I expect them to accomplish. So it is not something I ask them to do.

Do I occasionally hit an LP that stayed too long, and is way too thin, and just run over it with the lead platoon? Sure. But when the defenders have a whole platoon, I generally don't outshoot them until minute 3 or so, after the rest of the column has had a chance to help the point. And by the time I've dealt with them, I've certainly spent ammo, and the point platoon (at a minimum) has taken losses and needs rally etc. If I kill the enemy and occupy the position in 5-10 minutes, I count it a great success. Even if I spend half my ammo doing it.

If I want to dance in and out like that, I'd want a platoon of medium tanks, not a company of infantry. The tanks might need an infantry scout or two, or have a platoon following them up to kill men they pin - but fundamentally I would not rely on a BB or AK infantry company to deliver a hit and run and expect to pull it off cleanly.

An example. A Brit night attack on Italians in the desert. The Italians have a few clusters of palm trees, an ATG and some MG and 45mm mortars, a couple platoons of regular quality infantry. The attack idea is to hit them with planned heavy arty and follow up with veteran infantry. The basis of it is brittle morale at night, and my expectation that I can engage them gradually by exploiting limited LOS. I have a tank and a few scout cars, but the main force is infantry. One green large caliber FO delivers the map fire.

The infantry are a wedge, each deployed 2 by 2. So the total depth is 4 lines, maximum width is 4 files. The first to step into view are just 2 units. Scout cars in the middle in line ahead, behind the infantry at first, with the tank trailing them. FO on the best looking patch of palms.

Now, I can time the fall of the big shells and my likely arrival into LOS, which is limited to 200m. I can rush the ACs forward at the moment of contact. I could have my men all on-line I suppose, with tons entering LOS at the same instant, right as the shells land. That might be the coup de main style, but I wouldn't expect it to work and I don't try it.

I'd expect the shells to fall "spotty" at first. Many of the defenders still heads up. The ATG would hole an AC maybe 2, and take a while to pick up (spotted sure, but who shoots at it? It isn't a big threat to infantry, mortars aren't leading, etc). I'd expect each enemy MG to light up 1-2 units as they enter LOS and send them sideways sneaking, or at best on the ground and pinned. Am I going to outshoot the remainder in 2 minutes? Can I advance from 200m to 100m or less to really pour in the fire? (My rounds will include some shorts, and take 3 minutes to land). Not a promising method, to me.

Instead a couple enter LOS, draw fire from a platoon stationed well ahead of my aim point. My leading 2 units go to ground. Others on "move to contact" are down and firing back before the end of the first minute. The following minute I have most of the company in LOS, only the rear rank not. The ACs fast move up to locations still shy of the leading infantry, with LOS only to the forward enemy platoon.

I outshoot that platoon alright. But not cleanly and not while still maneuvering and not in 2 minutes. Only a few units get off short advances. The arty lands, and I get people unpinned, and I get the enemy platoon heads down. But I've also picked up ranged fire from a couple MGs, some on the flanks.

As my units advance, new shooters appear deeper in the enemy position and pin whoever goes first. My ACs inch up to target these, but at some point discover the ATG was not neutralized by arty and can see them. I manage to pin it with 2 minutes of highly concentrated fire, but after it holes 2 ACs.

Me, I feel like I definitely need the whole company for this. And I need to be cautious about every repositioning, to continue creeping into the LOS of only a manageable number of enemies. I only move a few units at a time on any given axis, to risk less if there are significant new shooters that way. Meanwhile I get fire outgoing, from the main body of the company, which avoids being pinned precisely through this caution. Only edges are pinned, the core is shooting.

But that takes ammo and it takes time. It is ten minutes after contact, that I've overrun the positions of the first forward enemy platoon, occupied his foxholes (only had patches of rocky and brush before those), and suppressed the defenders farther on, neutralized the ATG. One platoon is getting low on ammo and some of the front squads are distinctly unhappy and spending more time collecting sand than pulling triggers, but I've lurched painfully forward 200 yards under fire and given worse than I've taken. 15 minutes after contact I can make an actual rush for the palms, and take them - with half the men pinning on reaching them, from just from a few remaining shooters popping back up. The next minute or two the chaos sorts out and I have a few prisoners and only lost a half a dozen more men in the rush.

Now, that is not to me a process I can be confident about speeding up to 3 minutes or 5, and expect to go at all well. If I pushed that hard I'd expect to be outshot in the last 100m in front of the enemy.

I've got an infantry company with 50 shots apiece, brens and rifles. To me, it makes no sense trying to run regular platoons in cover off their feet in one go, with that sort of force. I should be standing at 150m and pulling triggers for all I am worth, until half the enemy melts and the other half is heads down. That's my long suit - a whole company of vets rallying for 10 minutes, while delivering hundreds of squad shots (at shelled Italians, at night).

I hope this is still interesting.

[ March 31, 2005, 09:49 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Originally posted by JasonC:

URD - it is unrealistic to be able to fire right through the men ahead. But I'd attack the same way if I had to arrange angled overwatch fire. As for suppression, MGs can suppress pretty well as it is, and if they suppressed better I'd just use more time.

yes, long enough for the battle to end. ;)

that's the whole point of advanced or outpost positions. you simply don't do 1.5:1 infantry attacks against prepared positions over open terrain.

The defender's dilemma is that he can't *kill* the whole attacking force at long range, using only a small portion of his own force. It isn't suppression related. Defenders readily suppress attackers in BB and AK. Suppression just isn't decisive, because the point of an attritionist attack isn't to move.

defenders don't suppress well enough. a single machinegun should suppress a company for hours. now in CM a company can simply walk over a MG. hell, even a platoon can do it. not the way. plenty of real world records of such attemps and all such attacks accomplished was deeply traumatized machinegunners.

And this is not a modeling limitation. Defenders could not expect to have an OP line of 20 guys destroy an attacking company. Attackers did not need tanks or heavy artillery to get past such screens. It was quite sufficient to shoot back. With organic heavy weapons if the range was long, etc.

the point of outposts or advanced positions is not to destroy the attacker, but to stall and misdirect the attack. the position can suppress a simple infantry attack over flat open terrain for indefinite period. it's not "20 guys", it's long range defensive weapons specifically chosen for that task. its construction is different from construction of the main line of resistance.

i guess we agree on how CM works. i just find the CM model is broken, where as i gather you find it works the way it should.

[ March 31, 2005, 11:30 PM: Message edited by: undead reindeer cavalry ]

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"long enough for the battle to end"

Obviously you can't be relying on typical CM scenario lengths when your argument is supposed to be about its lack of realism. The attacker is not limited as to time, in the real world. He has weeks, not minutes. Not that he needs them. Hours will suffice for the battle.

Infantry attacks on MGs that attempted to rush whole units up and moving across a wide expanse of open ground at a line covered by lots of them certainly failed with heavy losses on numerous occasions. They fail with losses in CM, too. But after the adoption of infantry packet tactics, attacking infantry regularly closed with dug in defenders.

This was already happening during WW I. Indeed, MGs were only a component of the problem in that era. Uncut wire prevented attackers from getting into cover on the other side. Barrages dropped in no man's land. Defending infantry counterattacked up the communications trenches using grenades. The typical result of a late war WW I attack is the attackers do get across, failing in a few spots from things like uncut wire, get pulverized by counter-concentrating arty, sealed off by infantry reserves. They keep a trench or two or they don't. There are three miles more beyond.

On a large scale, there were numerous occasions of successful large scale breakthrough. They failed logistically - defenders could get reserves in front of them by rail much faster than attackers could drag their arty and supplies across the moonscape to follow up. There was no absolute defense dominance at the front trench, once packet tactics were learned.

The basis of such tactics is really quite simple, and the essential thing is just that only small groups move at a time. Being in range of an MG with only limited cover is not suicide. Moving is certainly dangerous. If you all move at once, you just multiply your losses. The defenders all depress the triggers of their MGs simultaneously, fill the air with "surge" amounts of lead, and you take ten times the losses when ten times as many men are standing in the resulting hail.

But the defenders can't keep that up all day. Every MG can't keep the same all triggers depressed for six hours, to maintain the same cloud of bullets. The bullet density per unit space and time is much lower when firing naturally against a packet infantry attack. And as a result, the total danger a unit faces moving from A to B is much less. It faces that danger in concentrated points in time - when it gets up.

Then there is the little matter of firing back. All the best infantry tacticians tell us they achieved their movements by first building a base of fire etc. Clearly, the enemy fails to stop all movements because some of them are heads down at the moments that a particular packet moves.

Of course you also use all available cover - the origin of the thread. Even 50% exposure CM stuff can be adequate, particularly opening reply fire from range. It is not like the attackers firefight from 100% exposure in one of my attacks. Shellholes were quite important for this in WW I, for example.

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As a data point on infantry without cover to speak of advancing through defending MGs in WW II, consider Omaha. It counts as a bloody shambles by WW II standards. But they got off the beach. The defending formations (352 ID and elements of 716 ID) had 680 MGs and 114 81mm mortars, but only a portion of these were directly on the beaches hit. 174 MGs and 33 81mms are likely figures for the immediate defenders. (The defender's div arty also have 10000 rounds, but certainly did not expend them all). The battle took hours and the US lost 2400 men. The Germans lost 1200, and didn't stop them.

Even if we discount rifles and MPs entirely (along with grenades etc - the rest of the infantry) and estimate the arty and mortars at only a quarter of the total, that means 10 men hit per defending MG. It might easily be more like 6-7, if larger portions were arty or the rifles contributed anything. This was a target of the greatest density, that had to cross ground much more devoid of cover than typical inland, in a fight that lasted hours.

Certainly the attackers sheltered under the seawall, had major fire support, tried to use tanks in places, etc. But in the end, infantry made it up the bluff by moving in small groups. When a movement failed because too many intact MGs could bear on the subunit involved, they broke and cowered back behind the seawall. Those MGs then got to look for somebody else, and hope the destroyers didn't take them out.

Elsewhere some small packet moves to dead ground created by the bluff somewhere, where a few MGs have already been taken out, etc. They make it up and take out a few on either side. The overall effect is selection, efforts pushed and repeated where the defense happens to have become porous. While avoiding getting any closer or running greater risk in the places where the defense remains strongest. The men themselves do this, the commanders don't even know which is which.

You get that effect in smaller scale CM tactics by listening to the morale state of the squads. When they aren't happy you ask less of them, let them get into brush or whatever they can. And you let them rally there. You don't push them as hard as you can against the grinder - that is how mass infantry attacks fail with massive casualties.

Your short advances elsewhere happen to work. That particular unit wasn't targeted for those particular 30 seconds. The nearest, most logical shooter happened to be ducking because of the reply fire. Or your overwatch back at the start line sent 76mm HE his way and he has called it a day, himself. (The small scale CM version of the offshore destroyers). Or he is on a shortened arc, to avoid showing himself or to save ammo for a better or more urgent target.

Over a long enough period, your attack extends in the right places and pauses in the right places. Your men have little scraps of cover from time to time, more when they need it most. They stay at range longer when things aren't working well. Those pushing less are rallying more, evening out the pain to all concerned. And everybody is rallying or trying to, every minute.

The defenders have to not only make you hit the deck, they have to persuade everyone to stay there, when they can choose their own moments to be brave (by reaching "OK" or "alerted" again). And that just takes a lot more sustained firepower than breaking one 3 minute charge by having everyone shoot.

It certainly works in CM, so anybody who isn't doing it should try it. Oh and by the way, the same tactics work when you do have cover, just separated by bits of open you occasionally have to cross. Once you are used to attacking this way, moving infantry across maps with actual cover on them seems like a walk in the park.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

"long enough for the battle to end"

Obviously you can't be relying on typical CM scenario lengths when your argument is supposed to be about its lack of realism.

my quoted "argument" above was a direct response to your claim that MGs would already pin well enough in CM & more pinning power would only make the attack last longer. thus my response is of course directly related to CM. realistic MG suppression would cause the attacks in question to fail in CM.

The attacker is not limited as to time, in the real world. He has weeks, not minutes. Not that he needs them. Hours will suffice for the battle.
totally untrue, as we are talking about companies on very specific combat missions ("carry out an assault against hill x starting at 0700 hours...").

Infantry attacks on MGs that attempted to rush whole units up and moving across a wide expanse of open ground at a line covered by lots of them certainly failed with heavy losses on numerous occasions. They fail with losses in CM, too.

one MG against a company is more than enough. it doesn't fail in CM.

But after the adoption of infantry packet tactics, attacking infantry regularly closed with dug in defenders.

This was already happening during WW I.

(rest snipped)

i'm not sure if you comprehend the difference between advanced & outpost positions and the main line of resistance. these are not infantry vs dug in infantry battles. these are MGs firing at advancing infantry, pinning them down for good, then withdrawing if enemy sends enough of big players to help the infantry thru.

Being in range of an MG with only limited cover is not suicide. Moving is certainly dangerous.

yeah, it should be dangerous. at the moment it is not dangerous in CM. in CM you can easily move a company 100 meters in 5 minutes while under MG fire from under 500 meters on open flat terrain. you may get 1-3 casualties if you are unlucky.
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Originally posted by JasonC:

Over a long enough period, your attack extends in the right places and pauses in the right places. Your men have little scraps of cover from time to time, more when they need it most. They stay at range longer when things aren't working well. Those pushing less are rallying more, evening out the pain to all concerned. And everybody is rallying or trying to, every minute.

The defenders have to not only make you hit the deck, they have to persuade everyone to stay there, when they can choose their own moments to be brave (by reaching "OK" or "alerted" again). And that just takes a lot more sustained firepower than breaking one 3 minute charge by having everyone shoot.

It certainly works in CM, so anybody who isn't doing it should try it. Oh and by the way, the same tactics work when you do have cover, just separated by bits of open you occasionally have to cross. Once you are used to attacking this way, moving infantry across maps with actual cover on them seems like a walk in the park.

exactly. in CM the attack is never paused. in CM you can advance thru every time. it doesn't matter if you happen to have 76mm support or whatever. you can simply advance thru on flat open terrain. it's impossible to have things that happened on Omaha beach to happen in CM. e.g. the German machinegunner who kept firing for nine hours. gees, nine hours and it was less than 500 meters. what inept wankers those American soldiers: it should take only 10-15 minutes to advance 500 meters to the MG. and they even had tanks and all. :rolleyes:
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