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After reading many threads on tactics and such, I have realized that some players have great knowledge about this game and how to win battles. I have seen maneuver doctrine, attrition doctrine, advance drills, overwatch drill, fire versus shock, shock versus maneuver, etc, which I find largely confusing. Thus, the more I read about tactics, the more I seem to get confused.

So here is my dumb question. How did the good players on this formum learn so much about tactics and why do they do so well at this game?

What should I do to get better? Read tactics articles, read Fionn's old AAR's, just play a bunch of games against the AI and learn from experience?

Any simple responses will be appreciated.

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Originally posted by Cuirassier:

What should I do to get better? Read tactics articles, read Fionn's old AAR's, just play a bunch of games against the AI and learn from experience?

A little bit of the first, more of the second, and a lot of the third.

While you can certainly apply real world tactics to a degree, you're better off learning the mechanics of the game first, since there are quite a few abstractions due to limitations to the game engine.

To be fair, no designer can produce a totally realistic simulation of actual combat, least of all one that can run on most mid-range PCs available to the public. Shortcuts and abstractions are inevitable. Knowing what those are ahead of time can make the difference between a challenging and enjoyable game, or a half-hour of frustration.

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I'd also recommend going back through the forum and looking at some old tactics threads. There are a few thread archives that list a whole lot of good tactical threads around, plus you can look at the threads themselves. You can learn a lot there.

Or if you're bored sometime, just flip back through the forum manually, page by page, and whenever you see an interesting thread, open it up and take a look!

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Originally posted by Cuirassier:

After reading many threads on tactics and such, I have realized that some players have great knowledge about this game and how to win battles. I have seen maneuver doctrine, attrition doctrine, advance drills, overwatch drill, fire versus shock, shock versus maneuver, etc, which I find largely confusing. Thus, the more I read about tactics, the more I seem to get confused.

Yup, I get baffled by the over-complications some people are prepared to indulge themselves in at times.

Originally posted by Cuirassier:

So here is my dumb question. How did the good players on this formum learn so much about tactics and why do they do so well at this game?

Dunno, you'd have to ask a good player to find out; but, since we know that the nature of expertise is that experts are often unable to explain their expertise, you may not get a comprehensible answer even then.

Originally posted by Cuirassier:

What should I do to get better? Read tactics articles, read Fionn's old AAR's, just play a bunch of games against the AI and learn from experience?

Any simple responses will be appreciated.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect. But I would offer two very simple, general pieces of advice (which are free of charge, and worth what you paid for them):

1. Above all else, try to understand how the ground works, and how to use it in your favour. Tactics on the direct fire battlefield ultimately depend on the fact that it's much easier to hurt targets you can see than targets you can't.

2. All successful tactics boil down to one thing; fort contre foible, pit your strength against the enemy's weakness. All you have to do now is learn all the strengths and weaknesses of all the pieces in the game!

All the best,

John.

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Your strength vs. their weakness, check. Sometimes overly complicate things, check.

Disciple to Tao master "tell me all the secrets of enlightenment". Tao Master "I tell you all the secrets of enlightenment." Disciple "Master, when you say to me, "I tell you all the secrets of enlightenment", I do not thereby become enlightened. In fact, nothing happens." Tao Master "When I say I tell you all the secrets of enlightenment, nothing happens." Disciple "Ah. Now I get it."

Old joke.

I do think that most of it can be systematized and turned into principles that can just be learned and applied by any level headed person, no talents required. Some of the best players would tell you anything you learn that way, if predictable enough, can be turned into a weakness. But I don't really buy that. I think sound play can get you a game against anybody.

It can also trash the AI consistently, which is not saying much really, but can still represent improvement for a new player. Should you play a lot against the AI to get experience? Well, until you beat it regularly, yeah. AI games are faster. You can test things, try different approaches and turn the result around rapidly, thus keeping the input connected to the output, so to speak. You can learn most of the basic principles beating the AI.

Humans are decidedly tougher. Knowing principles isn't enough to consistently beat them. The good ones know them themselves, and even those that don't still do things that make sense in their own crazy plan.

As for how it happens, understand that I play CM because I am independently interested in the history of tactics and of the period, and for me the game is way of getting better at that, learning more of it and seeing new tactical relationships - not the other way around. I don't analyse the heck out of CM to be better at CM. I don't know that I am particularly good at CM, I just analyse everything that sits still in front of me for two seconds. And type too much about it.

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Fionn's AARs? I have never played him, but I am shocked that he was a good player after reading his AARs. A few things:

1) His QB force selections were usually ridiculous (little infantry, lots of ubertanks, lots of artillery, all units Crack or Elite). Such force selections are newb force selections....

2) He references "Soviet Doctrine" repeatedly but he actually mixes German and Soviet doctrine up quite a bit.

3) A big part of Fionn's doctrine seems to be "taking risks--doing the bold and unexpected." I think Jason C once commented on this and said the better strategy is to be conventional (and maybe even a bit predictable), but to execute so well that you cannot be stopped (even though you are predictable). I agree with Jason--while the occasional surprise is valuable, you cannot make this the centerpiece of your doctrine. Better to have a sound, conventional strategy and flawless execution.

4) Fionn was so condescending and arrogant in his AARs.....I just wanted to kick his ass. He constanly bragged about his "kill ratios" because he would might achieve a 3 to 1 casualty ratio in his favor. Well...a 3 to 1 casualty ratio is pretty awful when you are attacking a US infantry battalion with platoons of King Tigers and heavy artillery. A King Tiger costs almost as much as an infantry company....

Alas....Fionn is gone now. I would have liked to have handed him his arse....

The bottom line--read the AARs of many people, read real world books on tactics (Combined Arms Warfare in the 20th Century is good), read BFC posts, and above all--play the game against the best human players you can find. There is no substitute for real experience and you will learn more losing to a person in one game than you will in beating the AI 10 times.

[ March 13, 2006, 10:05 PM: Message edited by: Nemesis Lead ]

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When playing the AI, save every turn. If anything goes wrong, watch the movies why it went wrong. If you think you found the problem, reload, apply another tactic and see if it works. If you can't find a problem, execute the same turn and see if it was just bad luck.

Vs a human player, this would be cheating and shouldn't be possible. Vs the AI, this is training.

Somebody can tutor you - but it is much better if you have to find out your mistakes by yourself. This is one of the secrets of enlightenment.

Apart from that:

a) Give the AI a bonus and practise attrition. It is a basic tactic that you need. Once you master that, you can try some maneuvering.

B) Read the terrain in each battle and consider where the chokepoints, kill sacks, reverse slopes, hvy wpns positions etc are. Not just from your side...

c) Look thru the eyes of the enemy!

d) Patience and planning. If you have 50+ turns to capture the flags, plan to capture them in 45 turns.

Gruß

Joachim

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Nemesis Lead,

By the time I fought him in the Invitational Tourney, Fionn had won something like 150 consecutive games in ladder play, thus must've known what he was doing. Having played him, I can assure you he did. Clearly, he knew everything there was to know about cherrypicked force optimization and handling his forces with deadly skill, speed, and authority, but I believe he was gone (may be wrong about this) by the time

the ROW Tournaments got going. I wonder how well he would've done playing a force predetermined by the scenario designer, instead of one handpicked and tailored by himself. Having played both types of tournaments, I can tell you that there's a big difference.

Personally, I favor the ROW scenario format, since it lets the player focus on using what he or she has, exactly as real commanders are forced to.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Hi John K.,

Well...while I am only 17 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw in ladder (SZO and BoB) play, I still fear no one with force selections like that! Bring Fionn out of retirement!

Crack and (especially) elite troops are generally a waste of QB points in CMAK and CMBB for a variety of reasons. This may not be the case for CMBO, but I would not know because I don't own it. To be fair, Fionn seemed to play CMBO in all the AARs that I read.

Also--Fionn played on the SZO ladder. He certainly did not win 150 games there. In fact, there are a few posts there that reference him losing.

BTW, I think the ROW format is great (especially the scoring). I just always seems to miss the sign up for the tourney.... Will there be another?

[ March 14, 2006, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: Nemesis Lead ]

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There is another technique for learning which doesn't get mentioned much, perhaps because it doesn't occur to everyone to try it: to play both sides of a battle using Hot Seat. I do this quite a bit (particularly as I find playing the AI to be almost worthless, and I don't have much opportunity to play H2H). Playing the game this way isn't to everyone's taste, of course. But in the more specific context of learning, there are two benefits you get from this approach.

First, it makes it easier to learn exactly how CM works -- for example, things like spotting and how to avoid being spotted, the effect of different amounts of FP from different ranges on different types of targets, how the TacAI deals with different types of threats and opportunities, etc. You don't have to guess about these things, because you can actually see the results from both sides.

Second, having figured out the mechanics of CM, you can more accurately test the effect of different tactics, since you will be able to see precisely what the impact is on the other side, compared to what you might have expected.

There is a third benefit, of course, which probably goes without saying. You never lose. :D

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Originally posted by Cuirassier:

What should I do to get better?

Get good at losing. Insist on it. Offer to cease-fire the moment you start winning.

Forget about QBs, play scenarios. The better player can win with whatever hand he is dealt. Not a cherry-picked map and force comp.

Can't take out that tiger with your t34/76s? Learn how to do it with t70s.

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Thanks everyone for the positive replies.

I have been playing a bunch of PBEM's and AI games recently, and am improving. I have found that I am improving mainly just from experience, and through the use of basic tactics I have learnt while reading various posts here, instead of trying to make elaborate and 'perfect' plans, as I was guilty of before. Basically, I am trying to model my game around the attritionist approach now, as I have found it to be most effective.

Anyway, a few comments,

Now I do not intend to change is thread into a discussion about Fionn, but I do have some comments.

zmoney,

I am relatively new (obviously) and thus never talked with Fionn or played a game against him. From what I have read, apparently many felt that he was extremely skillful, though I have my doubts. I did some searches through the Battlefront archive, and I discovered that Fionn was apparently banned for his abusive action towards others. That is just what I have read, so I am not sure exactly, and don't think it needs to be discussed any further.

Nemesis Lead,

I have come to similar conclusions after reading Fionn's AAR's and old posts. Though reputed as an awesome player, some things about his AAR's seemed, from what I have learned, to be tactically wrong, or just silly.

For example, he often discussed how he was willing to split up a company of infantry and send them all over the map. Surely one would want to keep their infantry concentrated, always having them deployed in company strength if attacking.

His force types in QB's were never combined arms types also. In his AAR's, he bought many tanks, always the thick fronted ones, took little infantry, took tons of small artillery (battalion mortars mostly), and no infantry heavy weapons like HMG's or infantry guns. I think he advocated that only mobile weapons had value. Also, from what I derived from his AAR's, he was certainly a risk taker and firmly believed that only the unpredictable had any combat use.

Finally, he also made some strange claims, like that he could smash anyone by counterattacking with a company of armor (something of a rariety in QB's where everyone is poor), destroy a company of infantry with one MG-42 and attrit enemy forces favorably while only attacking using an outpost line not supported by the MLR.

Now, I am obviously inexperienced, and maybe he was skilled enough to do these things. However, when reading his AAR's, and applying the knowledge I have gained from these forums, his accomplishments just seem unrealistic.

Anyway, this thread is not about Fionn, so I do not wish to debate anyone about Fionn's capabilities as a CM commander.

Finally, Walpurgis Nacht,

I remember reading part of your AAR for the Moltke bridge scenario for some tournament. Where could I find this AAR? Do you have any others?

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Oh yeah, I forgot another question for Walpurgis Nacht, or anyone who knows for that matter.

Is it actually possible to kill a Tiger with T-70's? I know one should be able to get the most out of their smallest or least capable forces, but can that dinky 45mm gun actually hurt a Tiger?

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Cuirassier,

Here is the link for the Molke bridge scenario.

http://www.gregories.net/row/index.php

Walpurgis Nacht and his AARs are much saner reading than Fionn's.

Killing a Tiger with T-70s? It ain't easy, but you can do it. You have to hit from the flank or rear at close range and even then, you will likely get your kill without a single penetration (spall will often cause the Tiger crew to bail).

I play tested 1 Tiger (played by the AI) vs. 6 T-70s (played by me). I killed the Tiger for the loss of two T-70s. I just hit the Tiger repeatedly in the side and rear with Tungsten rounds at close range. The best I got was a partial penetration, but the armor spall freaked the Tiger crewmembers out and they bailed.

Against a human (or even the AI if it could have provided flank protection for the Tiger), this would be harder to do. But the point is that there are few weapons in CM that lack value. Some are complete gems (e.g., Stuart tanks, SU-76s, 75mm infantry guns, Humber III Armored Cars, etc.) even though they don't look like much on the surface. If you have a good game when playing with "garbage," you will never be surprised in a scenario-based tourney.

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Originally posted by Cuirassier:

Oh yeah, I forgot another question for Walpurgis Nacht, or anyone who knows for that matter.

Is it actually possible to kill a Tiger with T-70's? I know one should be able to get the most out of their smallest or least capable forces, but can that dinky 45mm gun actually hurt a Tiger?

Run this test scenario for a few turns and see what happens
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I, before Walpurgis Nacht, remember another awesome player in the Rumblings of War (RoW) Tournament: Leonard Dickens - I think his alias was Wreck. Treeburst155 could help my memory out here.

He, as well as WN, could play any hand that he was dealt with in scenario's. The mark of a true great player.

Reading Leonard's AAR's was very instructive. In essence, know your force weaknesses, and to know your opponents' implies recon, recon and more recon before you could exploit it.

And Jesse's (WN) maxim is relevant. Only fire/attack a unit if you can destroy it. Completely.

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I was wondering about the value of repeatedly playing the same scenario; I end up doing this sometimes, but of course if you know where to enemy is likely to be (AI seems very staid in this respect, unless of course the scenario is locked down by the author) you can't help but play with that information in the back of your mind.

I've been trying the Battle for Hill 52 scenario recently, and I get creamed every time; the German tanks are simply too many, and good! The closest I got saw a hook down the right get 6 StuGs and PzIVs for no loss, but the main attack was still chewed to pieces; usually I loose everything! Can this scenario be won at all, or should I move on?

Tim P

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