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Deliberately creating shellhole craters for cover


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I think this may have been discussed some time in the past. If so, my apologies to anyone who finds this to be old news. I tend to play smaller, infantry dominated battles, and particularly like the challenge of open terrain situations for the attacker (grassland, desert, steppe, etc.) Something I've started to do from time to time is deliberately target a medium (105mm say) FO (pre-planned barrage only) so that there's a good chance of creating craters I can use for cover in getting across, along with (hopefully) doing some damage to the enemy. Of course, doing this wouldn't make sense in a situation where there is a clear need to thoroughly plaster a particular location. But in a lot of situations, there is much less certainty about where to direct a barrage when you have no intel as yet.

It also seems to me I've read that this was a tactical ploy IRL, though I associate it in my mind more with WWI than WWII. Anyone know? Even so, there may be a question as to whether it is gamey, since it's taking advantage of CM's rather questionable equating of a shellhole with the foxhole (which is really an abstraction for a group of foxholes in a location, whereas the shellhole is not a grouping of craters).

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out for consideration.

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It has worked for me in the past, but not very well. Usually my opponent realises what I'm trying to do and moves their MG elements to a place where they can fire upon my infantry before they get to the craters, causing them to sneak towards solid cover such as houses or scattered trees etc.

It's worked well before, but it's quite a gamble.

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Good timing (for me). I'm nearly finished with a scenario where this will be a very beneficial tactic in overcoming an outpost in the middle of the steppe. Very few trees, mostly flat terrain. When the fighting gets nitty gritty, your troops will need some cover.

In regard to gamey... definately not in my book. First, with light caliber arty, chance of a crater is minimal. With medium, you still have a only a slight change. Never tested it (although I'm sure somebody has!! tongue.gif ), but my guess is that you have less than a 20% chance to make a crater with 105. Secondly, this is a realistic use of artillery.

In addition to making craters, an additional benefit to dropping arty "off target" is to clear a minefield. (This does not actually clear mines in the way a satchel will, but it reduces the effectiveness of the mines). Now, this I have tested. :D I posted an analysis on TPG. Clearing the Field

As for historical tactic... yes. A quick example would be the shelling of the D Day beaches. Goal of the shelling was to destroy wire, mines, obstacles and make shell holes for the advancing troops. Really went wrong when the wrong beaches were shelled and the troops landed on beaches that hadn't been touched.

I'll post the scenario I mentioned within a day or so. Don't have a name for it yet... but it will be something like "Combat Outpost, Kiev." (Basically the position to be attacked is part of a line of defenses in front of Kiev). Look for it on TPG in the new CMBB scenario.

Shameless Plug: If you like open ground fights -- I've got a good one for you ready now at The Scenario Depot. Bad Harvest at Stubienka Terrain is mostly flat and covered in wheatfields. Semi-historical situation.

Bannon

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Bannon: nice post and interesting, especially about the minefields. I will have to read your analysis. However, upon further review, I'm not sure there's a good case for this practice in a standard CM scale game. My key assumption was that in some QBs (and this is a result of how QBs are constructed, which resembles real life situations haphazardly) there are no definite targets for a pre-planned barrage. I was thinking that creating shellholes at least gave a basis for choosing one potential targeting area over the many other possibilities that might exist. At the time, however, I'd forgotten about the Target Wide option (which, by the way, might also create some useful shellholes) which is probably a more logical choice most of the time. Also, it does not give away anything about your chosen route.

I think things like the D-Day example don't really make the case, because there you had a surfeit of big HE. You had the luxury of using them for a variety of tasks. This may also explain my sense that this tactic was used in WW1 -- again, lots of artillery focused on a single point of attack, not to mention the problem of advancing under fire. It would be more interesting to know if company or battalion commanders in WW2 ever ordered up some larger mortars or howitzers specifically to crater up some turf -- probably not, although I could see it in connection with obstacle removal.

Shmavis: obviously I'm not going to give the enemy a free pass if I have some basis for estimating where he has concentrations. While the AI may concentrate around the flags, a good opponent is not going to be so clumsy. Also, I wouldn't do this if there's an area that needs to be hit because it could (if there's a strong defense in that location) block my chosen route. However, as noted above, I think my preferred third option most of the time would be a Target Wide.

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Given a choice, my first option for the use of artillery would be to blast the enemy and take some of his men and guns out.

For QBs... no doubt. Blast the enemy. When you close you may have some craters.

"Clearing the Field" is also a scenario. Objective is to blast a path through a thick mine field and attack a German position. Without the artillery, you would most likely get bogged down and chewed up. (At TPG)

Here is the scenario I mentioned earlier. Just finished it (at least ready for playtesting). It is called Combat Outpost Ukraine This is a battalion level attack on a fortified defensive position across open steppe. This is designed to give your artillery planning skills a test.

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  • 1 month later...

...also scenario makers should make more use of craters! Not just that they add more "warlike" looks on otherwise golf course looking like maps (I encounter them way to oftenly:P), they also offer an attacking AI opponent better opportunities for advancing infantry across a map! A way better alternative than seeing the AI moving from one patch of woods to another and when combined with other good cover terrain, the AI movements are less predictable, thus offering a more fun game! :cool:

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I cannot imagine it being beneficial to waste the points of a large caliber art module in order to create shell holes. Use it to blast troops. Craters/foxholes only drop your exposure to 44%, which really isnt very good. Rocky ground gives 50% and brush 53% (although in both of those terrains your inf will try to crawl to better cover and they will stay in a crater).

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