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Getting really sick of those tanks...


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I hate tanks. I can never seem to get anywhere with them. It has got so bad that I hardly ever bother playing scenarios that use lots of tanks, just b/c I can't stand watch them all die. Doesn't matter which side I use or what 'tactics' I use, I always lose them. Normally I use infantry for AT jobs b/c I can never rely on my tanks to do the job effectively.

Please help! I've tried following threads about tank tactics, but I never find myself in a situation where I can put them into practice. Or when I do try, something goes really wrong. E.g. just playing a scenario where I have alot of PzIIIs against a load of T-34s. I get that the PzIII has crappy guns and the T-34s have good frontal armour, so I attempt to outflank them. Doesn't work. Half of my tanks get bogged in the process (after I surrendered I discovered that not a single enemy tank had bogged and immobilised, as opposed to 5 of mine). When I finally get into position (actually directly behind the T-34s), each of my tanks fires off one or two shots each, all of which miss or bounce off the turret, then the T-34s wheel around (there are alot more of them than my tanks) and fire a volley that takes out half of my tanks immediately. The rest attempt to return fire over the next turn and attempt to reverse out, but after only 3 minutes of fighting, all of my tanks (about 2 platoons of PzIIIs and a couple of PzIVs) have been destroyed, only taking 3 T-34s with them. Now, I would have put this down to bad luck, except that this kind of thing is by no means unusual when I play.

Could someone point me in the right direction please before I give up on tanks (and possibly give up CM in general- I've been playing for years and I've never really got any better. I think my poor handling of tanks is what lets me down tho).

Please help!

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I can sympathize. Lately, I've been getting whomped in tank battles. It doesn't matter which CM game I'm playing or which side I have, I lose the armor battle.

If I'm the Russians, they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, even if they were inside the barn. If they do hit, it's a ricochet. If I'm the Germans, their vaunted optics suddenly stop working.

In a recent game, I lost six T-34s against a King Tiger that seemed to have a laser targeting system. It was killing them from 1200 meters with one shot. Of course, my tanks couldn't hit the KT worth anything.

CM is great, but it can make you pull out your hair.

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You will find loads of tips for handling your tanks against other (stronger or weaker) tanks, if you search in these forums...

Here are some off the top of my head:

First, it seems you are already using some sound approaches by flanking and getting up close and behind. When putting PzIII up against T34s this is absolutely crucial if you ever dream of penetrating the armor.

However you will be fighting a loosing battle if you put PzIII's up against a numerically superior force of T34's, as you describe. I can see why you feel forced to do this, as you have lost so many to bogging down, but the only way to win a situation like that is to be lucky and KO them before they can fire back, or try to lure and split the enemy tanks so you can take them on with numerical superiority.

More experienced players than me could properbly provide you with a better number regarding how much numerical superiority you should have when putting PzIIIs agains T34, but I'd say at least 2:1.

Now to the other tips...

Use either fire OR movement:

Moving tanks have a much harder time hitting targets than stationary ones, so move FAST to your intended location and fire WHEN you get there. Even better, only move tanks that have a couple of buddies covering their approach in overwatch positions, so they can deal with any enemy that reveals itself when you approach.

(Please note that FAST movement through forrest could get you more easily bogged down, so take care when not on firm ground.)

Use shoot and scoot against superior tanks:

One of the ways to take out a stronger tank, is to (hopefully) have numerical supriority, and then shoot-and-scoot from a safe location and back, like over the crest of a hill, or behind some dense forrest. Also hull down positions make you harder to hit, so shoot-scoot PLUS hull down is even more effective.

This way you will get several shots in on your opponent, who will have to change target (and thus rotate turret which takes time) many times, since your tanks will back away after having fired their shots.

Button up a tank with infantry before attacking with armor:

A buttoned up tank will have a much harder time spotting and targeting you, so try to button it up with long range MG fire or a sniper etc. Once it is buttoned, you should roll up behind it and fire away.

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Thanks for the advice so far, now I've had some sleep I feel a little more kindly disposed towards tanks. Just as a query- should I be moving my tanks around in a similar way that I move my infantry? I.e. 'bounding' forward as individual squads, using other members of the platoon to cover the advance and (scaling up) platoons covering other platoons and companies covering other companies. I've never tried doing this with armour before and its only just occurred to me that it might work. The only problem I can see is that tanks don't suppress like infantry. Any suggestions? I guess what I'm getting at is is there a good way of moving armour around the battlefield and what size groups should they be moved in?

Also, I can never get the Seek command or Shoot and Scoot to work effectively. Whenever I use Seek (Hull Down) my tanks never actaully find a target, they just kinda trundle along then stop for no reason. I encounter similar problems with Shoot and Scoot- the tanks get far too hung up on following the movement order rather than selecting targets and never 'scoot' fast enough. How can I get the best out of these two commands?

Btw, my friends and I have started using 'Shoot and Scoot' to refer to a one-night-stand. Thanks BFC!

[ January 11, 2006, 03:51 AM: Message edited by: John_d ]

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I always scout with infantry before advancing into unknown territory, and if this cant be done, I at least like some overwatch to cover my butt. That said there are always situatins where its hard to cover the advance and you sometimes have to take chances.

I never use "seek hull down" myself.

If I am trying to get in a hull down position on the crest of a a hill, I try to judge this visually, and place the "shoot" part of the command on the right spot, and then the "scoot" 30-40 meters behind this. Same thing for shoot/scoot out of cover/forests, i just try and place the shoot command about 20 meters out of the cover.

Some players also "zigzag" when doing hull down on a hill, so as to not appear in exactly the same place on the hill each time! Reverse at a slight angle, and drive forward to a new position on the hill for the next shoot/scoot.

Happy "shooting and scooting" ;)

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"When putting PzIII up against T34s this is absolutely crucial"

Um, in reality probably. In CM, no.

Some of it does depend on models and dates. In general, the T-34 is superior to the Pz IIIs, though only marginally superior to the later 70mm front IIIs with 50L60 (late J, L, etc).

In 1941 the Germans have much wimpier guns, but the T-34s also have wimpy (and undermodeled, frankly) turrets. The recipe for killing T-34s in 1941 is not to get behind them with razzle dazzle driving, it is to get them hull down with many 50L42s firing at each, at a time.

The 50L42 will penetrate the earliest 45mm turret out to 1000 yards. 600m is safer, with more full pens rather than partials, and will also deal with the slightly improved turrets of late 1941 (52mm variety). Czech 37s will penetrate at similar distances but 400-500m is more comfortable. The 75L24 wants more like 400m.

The typical way you kill one in 1941 is to get 2-4 Panzers in LOS of it simultaneously. Up to 25 rounds go downrange and half hit, half or more hit the turret if it is hull down, half get partial pens, only half to a quarter are full KOs but the thing dies. In the meantime it may fire back and kill a Panzer.

One on one duels are a bad idea with all 1941 vehicles. The best match up is a III H with 30+30 front, with the Pz III hull up and the T-34 hull down, at 1000m range. The Russian 76 will bounce from the upper hull but kill through the turret. The 50L42 will partially pen the turret but not all the time, and with relatively poor behind armor effect (smaller round, marginal penetrations). The T-34 is favored but the match up is close.

The other great weakness of the T-34 in 1941 is no radios. Button them and then maneuver around them to get many on fews. They will not be able to react sensibly. They will kill panzers occasionally anyway, because if they point the right way they will gets shots off, some will hit, and most of the hits will KO.

In 1942 when the Germans have 50L60s the story changes. The Russian turrets get thicker, making the 50L42 useless. The 50L60 still kills through the turret front. It needs 500 yard ranges or less to do so, with 400m more comfortable. T ammo lets the turret front be penetrated out to 900m, but usually a whole platoon only has enough T to deal with one T-34 that way (because some misses, some hits the hull, etc). The 70mm front IIIs will bounce most 76mm AP ammo at ranged beyond 500m, though, which is strong compensation.

You can't afford to show sides at range. You can hit through sides at range, or trade blows about evenly at 400m. You always want hull down duels - they double your chance of hitting the vulnerable turret and they mask your own weaker lower hull plate.

Of course, the weapon of choice for T-34 killing in later 1942 is the 30+50m front 75L48 StuG, which just dominates them utterly. Cover its flanks and it mops the floor with them. Way overused by CM players.

The early long IVs have only 50m fronts, making them "first guy to get a hit wins" affairs. The same is true of the Marders. The IVs are a bit better at it because they have fast turrets, the Marders are a lot cheaper. The middle G is the first IV to get an 80mm front hull, and once that arrives you have a superior AFV. You want to duel hull up. The IV turret remains vulnerable at all ranges, the hull is not down to point blank, and the long 75 kills T-34 through any plate, out to 1000m or more.

Main thing to know for the early stuff is that many on few, hull down is the way to kill them. Not the historically more accurate but frankly much more difficult flank-and-close charge. Stay together in platoons, and look for ways you can walk into their LOS gradually, to unmask one at a time. And button them to slow their reactions.

It should also go without saying that stealthy ATGs are a better way to kill them than trading Panzers. The 75 PAK or captured 76mm kill them easily at range, once available. The 28/20 sPzB squeeze bore can kill them through the turret giving only a sound contact back, at ranges in the 200m to 500m area. French 75s and 105mm howitzers can kill them at medium range, but can also lose duels with them. 50mm PAK with T ammo also work, particularly with an initial side shot.

I hope this helps.

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Dear John_D, I thought of you tonight, watching my tanks get blown away one by one. I was attacking a wood with an inf cie with support. Behind the objective, I had a huge smokescreen and I sent 4 tanks with 2 stug behind the smoke screen to cut any retreat or hit the reinforcements. There was one russian AT gun in the area. First, one of my tank got bogged. Then the AT gun fired one shot at my first tank and knocked it right away. The two other tanks fired 6 or 7 shots at the gun without hitting it once. They were both destroyed within the next 30 seconds by the same AT gun. The 2 stugs were in the back. I sent them right in the smokescreen hoping they could flank the gun. But no. The gun managed to fire into the smokescreen and hit my stug, two shells on each, no misses. And I watch the last stug beeing destroyed over and over. I saw the AT gun turn towards my stug and fire even before pointing at it and hitting it. You do not get beaten by the ennemy, you get beaten by the computer. And trust me, if you switched sides, your AT gun crew would become a bunch of losers and the stugs would roll through all you could throw at them and nail you with one or two shots. I tried it on an other scenario.

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You have got to be patient with your tanks, particularly if you are moving forward. You HAVE to identify what is ahead of you, before it gets the first shot off at your tank. Don't be surprised if you get bogged down into a slogging match, use the full time length of the game.

You are basically trying to knock the opponent off balance, whilst keeping your own. He will then be unable to respond effectively to your moves.

Always keep the initiative, as well as trying to reduce the opponents units that you are probing. Keep HMG's and guns in positions that will prevent the opponent having the full freedom to move and reinforce the part of his line that you are probing.

This is done by steadily working some infantry forward, using run and hide. This should force the opponent to respond. If he still doesn't reveal his anti tank units, try rushing a low value armoured unit such as a half track or a T70/ PzIII (if you can afford it) forward to support the infantry. This will definetely force the opponent to respond. You can then use artillery to deal with AT guns or SP artillery. Hopefully eventually you will force the opponent to move his tanks to counter attack - you can then shoot at the exposed tank side.

Of course, none of this is guaranteed to work - even veteran tanks can take a lucky hit, and veteran infantry can take a direct hit of 105mm artillery that breaks it at a critical moment. But that's what makes the game...

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Apart from Jason's tips:

Try to get at enemy tanks from 2 sides. Turning won't help the enemy then.

Keyholing works, too. You want many on one. Not many on more.

A dirty trick in CM is to use a well armored tank in front of hard hitting yet cheaper tanks. If the T34 can't penetrate your PzIII with 70mm front at 600m, it will still aim at the PzIII if it appears first and is closer to the T34 than a cheaper tank (or Marder) that appears later. The PzIII takes the punishment while the Marder or PzIV does the killing.

Shoot and scoot is something I don't like. Or I'm too dumb to put the waypoint in the exact spot. I get off one shot, the enemy gets many on me. So I prefer "hunt". Arriving in LOS late in a turn and quickly retreating next turn gives a better shoot& scoot. Plus I am able to get off several shots if I want to. Consecutive shots on the same or close targets get a bonus for finding the range.

Gruß

Joachim

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JasonC:

Am I reading you post correctly? Are you saying that it is better to NOT be hull down with tanks that have weak turrets?

Obviously it's better to be hit on the hull if you have a weak turret, but isn't it better not to be hit at all? Doesn't being hull down reduce the chance of being hit?

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Yes, it is better not to be hull down in a tank with a weak turret. If the hull is going to bounce every round and the turret hits get in, then you are better off giving them the larger target. Yes they will get more hits overall, no they will not get the same number of turret hits they will get a lower number. T-34s before the Germans have lots of long 75s, and Pz IVs all day, and Panthers against good shooters that can get through the turret front, all want to be hull up. (The last becomes marginal if the lower hull can be penetrated, though).

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Shamelessly quoting myself:

Originally posted by Joachim:

Search for PzIV or Pz-IV (IIRC in the CMBB forum). The tests were done for that vehicle. There are 2-3 threads. Guess there is the info and a link to the others in this one:

http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=23;t=009490;p=3

The trick was that the chance to hit increases with hull up but the chance of a penetration of the weak 50mm turret front decreases.

Gruß

Joachim

From this thread:

http://www.battlefront.com/discuss/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=30;t=001294#000010

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Nevertheless I did my own tests, before I read your replies actually, and have come to the same yet opposite conclusion. Yes, there are more turret hits per minute if you are hull down, but no I don't think it is better to be hull up.

As stated the total number of hits increases, and even though the turret can't be penetrated under normal circumstances, there are still weak point penetrations, track hits, and panicking crews to worry about. Not to mention, increased likelihood of flanking shots - and increased likelihood of being spotted first.

I could not find any posts taking these factors into consideration.

Also I find it really hard to believe that IRL

PzIV tankers preferred to be hull up.

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IRL the turret is quite small and not all of it is only 50mm. But in the game, it is better to be hull up. Against typical Russian 76mm in particular, by far the most common situation, the turret hits are full kills and the rest are in fact bounces. And the difference is not small. You can throw away your IVs if you like, though, it is your funeral.

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My tests were against 37mm AT guns, so perhaps you are right that there is some combination of gun and armour where it is better to be hull up, but I think those cases would be rare [Edit: I mostly play CM:AK so russian 76mm is indeed reasonably rare]. Since I don't care to remember all those details I will continue to stay hull down as I believe that most of the time that will be the best tactic. In any case it is no-ones funeral, so I'm not too fussed.

Does anyone know what strategy was used IRL?

I can just imagine infantry saying to themselves "I know my body armour will stop a round at this range, so when I return fire I will stand up to give them a better target and avoid head-shots" smile.gif

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OK, I am seriously considering removing CMBB from my hard drive. This is due to the tanks. I am getting sick of playing against the AI and watching my tanks consistantly getting whipped by other vehicles with inferior specifications. When I use a PzIII, I can't get a frontal penetration on a T-34. When the AI uses PzIIIs, they merrily blast their way through the frontal armour of T-34s with worrying frequency. Whenever I outflank the AI, enemy tanks immediately spot the threat, spin around and destroy my tanks. Whenever the AI outflanks me, my tanks either don't notice, or don't move and engage the enemy with their rears exposed. My tanks invariably get huge command delays, bog or get caught up in traffic jams. All of which usually contribute to their hasty demise. Also, my tanks will follow my orders to the letter. So if they see a KT with its sides exposed whilst their driving along, they will ignore it and continue to derive the extra 5 metres. In the meantime, of course, the buttoned AI controlled KT will somehow spot my tanks from behind, turn around and start firing (always with gobsmacking accuracy). But in the face of this onslaught, do my tank crews return fire? Do they hell! They sit around eating their sandwiches until consumed by fiery death. My attempts to engage the enemy from two sides do not work.

Frankly, as Nienie said, you don't play the enemy, you play the computer

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Oh, I have just watched a PzIIIJ wipe out an entire platoon of T-34s, all with frontal penetrations. Most of the shots fired by my T-34s missed, apart from a few that hit and bounced off, despite the 76.2mm caliber. Also, the Panzer was about to get ambushed, but conveniently turned around at the last moment, despite being out of LOS to my tanks. It took less than 40 seconds for the Panzer to kill all 3 T-34s. In addition, as soon as the crew started to bail out, the Panzer switched targets. According to the kill timer, this shouldn't happen as he should know that the tank has been destroyed.

This may be the final straw that makes me abandon CMBB altogther

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Is John D making a valid point? Is there a grain of salt in what he is saying?

My first experience of CM was CMBB Blitzkreig campaign, and I remember getting a short sharp lesson about German tanks: I overestimated their capabilities, and my tactical nounce to. I had along gap without CM, but when I came back to it I saw it as the best tactical game to date. Yes I'md sure it's not perfect, but the little WW2 reading I've done sugests CM leans towards the realistic side.

So is it that many players overestimate tanks or their abilities? Or are there major flaws in CM that make it way off the mark with realism?

John D By the way have you tried pbem? If not why don't you try pbem and perhaps your oppenent could point out any obvious mistakes.

By the way what scenario or campaign are you playing?

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I think many people overestimate tanks, especially German ones.

Additionally, some people seem unwilling to run through a scenario a few times to get a bit of trial and error testing to find what works and what doesn't.

Sometimes the AI seems somwhat prescient, but that happens on both sides. I recall somewhat vividly a scenario where I was fast-moving a Cromwell CS tank down a road. Perpendicular to the road to the right was a Hetzer that was causing merry hell with the rest of my tanks - I had Fireflies and was expecting a bit of overmatch. The Cromwell, moving at some 40mph, traverses this turret, fires one 95mm HC round which sails across the intervening 800m and blows the Hetzer apart.

I've seen a Sherman take out an ATG with a snap shot and also seen two platoons of tanks fail to kill one over three turns. I've had a company advance halted by a single sharpshooter but have also stopped a battalion cold, causing more than 140 casualties with a single squad.

The point is that sometimes weird things happen. Generally though, good tactics pay off.

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I went back to have a look at how the AI is handled and I think that I have found a possible (unavoidable) flaw. I think that there is an element of the AI and the TactAI working closely together in a way that the human player can't. In a sense, the computer has a greater control over his troops- there is a lower level of control that the AI can go down to. When I issue my orders, I can only predict what will happen within the confines of the orders that I have given- if the TactAI decides to do something that will result in my orders not being effectively carried out, then I cannot predict this. The AI on the other hand is able to predict exactly how the TactAI will work and therefore is able to pull off tricks that are, by and large, impossible for the human player to master.

I see what you mean about overestimating the capabilities of tanks. I think that everyone realises pretty quickly when playing CM that tanks are no longer the miracle cure-all for military matters that they often are in other games. But my gripe here is that the way that the AI handles tanks gives it an unfair advantage when they go head to head. I can usually win the infantry battle without any trouble, but I always lose badly when it comes to the tanks. As I have pointed out before, I usually now just use infantry AT, as I find it alot more reliable than other forms of AT.

Btw, I would be extremely interested in playing PBEM with a more experienced player to point out where my tactics go wrong and also to see how an intelligent opponent differs from an AI one

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