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Infantry cost/benefit of engagement range when ammo is limited?


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Given: CMBB/CMAK

Assumption: Let's not consider the impact of allowing the enemy to close under EFOW and therefore develop solid contact reports which at a further distance would only be at best sound contacts ... Furthermore, let's not put too much thought into the exact weapons in use as to whether we are talking sub-machine guns or rifles ... I would like to keep this general.

Situation: An infantry oriented defensive battle with squads that do not have enough ammo to sustain an unrestricted fire fight for the full length of the scenario.

Question: Which is better?

Option #1: Set up your squads in heavy buildings (ground in most of the arc area would be classed as open) with covered arcs of say 30-50M with a posture of hide. When they have successfully engaged the enemy in the arc, then order them to cease fire and go back to hiding.

or

Option #2: Skip the covered arcs or maybe only use covered arcs to identify areas to cover, but allow fire out much greater distances of say 100M where the enemy will most likely be spotted and engaged in the cover of tall pines.

My Thoughts: I have gone with Option #1 so that the enemy can be engaged with the least possible cover and at close range such that the most casualties and psychological impact can be achieved. However, since close combat results in higher rates of fire, this will burn ammo very fast. Option #2 would burn ammo quite a bit slower, but it is my guess that less will be achieved for each round fired.

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Although I have been playing since the CMBO days, I still consider myself only an experienced beginner. I would be curious to hear how the true experts view the cost benefit analysis of the above. (In particular, the very analytical types like JasonC.)

Thanks in advance for taking time to reflect and respond.

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When ammo is tight, short covered arcs into open ground are essential. They need not be as short as 40m, though - 70m is fine. I typically put any unit under 10 ammo on short arcs, and I prefer to switch to them as soon as a unit reaches the teens. Fire into cover at range is very wasteful.

It isn't a matter of trying to make the ammo last a long time on the clock. The clock isn't the problem. Live enemies are the problem. You have to allocate your ammo over living enemies, and make it last long enough to kill or break most of them. When you shoot them in cover at range, you just muss their hair a bit and they then rally right out of it. That ammo is gone. When instead you permanently break somebody, you've traded, not spent.

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Originally posted by markshot:

Situation: An infantry oriented defensive battle with squads that do not have enough ammo to sustain an unrestricted fire fight for the full length of the scenario.

Since you want to speak in general terms, I would say that this is the situation in virtually every scenario or QB. Are you focusing on a reduced ammo scenario/QB in particular, or are you more concerned about the fact that infantry tends to expend ammo faster in a close combat situation?

I think you will find it hard to get a "general" answer. One consideration I can offer, however, is this: one of the prime objectives of an infantry attacker is to get within close combat range (more specifically, to within grenade range, which is about 40m). I tend to feel that if you are letting an attacker get that close relatively unmolested, you had better be sure you are going to plaster him. On the other hand, if the situation is such that you can't stop him from getting that close, then consider the possibility of a fighting withdrawal to keep a wider distance while you buy time and slowly reduce his numbers and momentum. I think that ammo expenditure is a secondary consideration.

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As JasonC's answer suggests, no squad has enough ammo to sustain an unrestricted fire fight for the full length of any (reasonable) scenario. The key is to use the ammo your squads have when it is most effective. In general, the serious casualties in CM occur at fairly short ranges, so better to save your ammo for when the enemy gets close and in the open.

If you have some rifle heavy squads with a fair amount of ammo, you might use a few to slow the enemy's advance into those covered pines 100m away (although that is probably a job better performed by MGs set far enough back from your front positions to avoid spots). The goal is to create enough time pressure so that the enemy has to advance rapidly and in an unorganized fashion toward your positions.

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In general option 1 is better. as other people mentioned, it is not really good to engage an attacker at range in cover.

a few other things to note:

Option #1: Set up your squads in heavy buildings (ground in most of the arc area would be classed as open) with covered arcs of say 30-50M with a posture of hide. When they have successfully engaged the enemy in the arc, then order them to cease fire and go back to hiding.

in general you should not hide your defenders. they cannot see anything while hiding. If defenders dont shoot they dont get spotted - unless they are in open ground or the enemy is with 20m or so (winter spotting is significantly different)

However, since close combat results in higher rates of fire, this will burn ammo very fast. Option #2 would burn ammo quite a bit slower, but it is my guess that less will be achieved for each round fired.

as a defender - generally - you need to worry more about living & killing than conservation of ammo. Once you shoot as a defender, the attacker (with superior numbers) can bring concentrated fire on you to kill. the idea is to kill him before he sees you.

A good rule of thumb (not original to me) - dont shoot anything unless you are going to kill it.

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Point of clarification: my own tests have convinced me that hidden troops do not noticeably lose much spotting ability, except in situations where spotting is marginal already (at night, say). The more important impact from the hide order is that your troops won't fire at anything unless they feel directly threatened by an approaching enemy or they are spotted and fired on. This feature can be useful if you are getting very low on ammo, but obviously has to be used with care. Side note: the AI automatically hides all its troops at the beginning of the game, when it is the defender. IMO, this actually reduces the effectiveness of the AI's performance.

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Originally posted by markshot:

I just played a CMBB game where tank hunter teams despite being given cover vehicle arcs kept letting lose with their panzerfaust beyond the arc. I think perhaps they would have followed my intentions better if I had hid them.

I understood we were speaking in general terms.
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Originally posted by markshot:

Sorry, I could not resist commenting on the fact hide may still be of use when units are in good cover despite having assigned arcs.

No doubt about that. especially for AT assets. Also during winter months in non "tall pines" cover, hiding units is a good idea - but make sure you leave some units (especially HQs and units with binoculars) unhidden so they can spot.
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What is best depends on your intentions. If you want to delay the enemy in that area, you might fire at range to force him to deploy while you shift reserves into his axis of attack. Then the reserves are your intended killers. If you want to kill where you are - low ranges.

Radius of covered arcs depend on terrain, your weapons and the enemy's weapons. Squads with 2 LMGs are effective at 100m and will still kill parts of the the routing enemy at 150m while "SMG only" inf prefer 40m - the enemy usually won't find time to rout towards 70m where SMG fp starts to fade.

Gruß

Joachim

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One thing that I would like to point out in this discussion is that Infantry type units, ie; all Infantry Squads, HQs, Tank Hunter teams & IIRC HMGs) still fire when low on ammo! As said above ammunition loads are not the biggest concern. Expending it effectively is.

I actually don't worry about stopping these units from firring & either hiding them with a short coverred arc or withdrawing them from the firefight altogether until they have reached their low on ammo statis. I still think that they are best hanging on afterwards and holding their ground anyway. IME they can be very effective with short coverred arcs firing a few times and throwing out grenades. Often times while checking kill stats at the end of the game such units tend to have the large figures as aposed to other similar units that have fired all out to a low statis at a much larger range, say 100m and above etc.

I remember playing a game with a low quality reinforced Italian Infantry Platoon deployed outposted in a heavy building with, similar to how markshot has described in his origional example, clear terrain nearby but alot of cover including woods as close as 40m-60m away on one side and obsticles to fire such as walls and a small building and more woods farther out in other areas around the isolated 'stronghold'!

So in this situation I was faced with almost exactly the same dilema between which to go with either Option 1: hiding with short coverred arcs, 30m-40m, or Option 2: hiding with medium distanced coverred arcs ranging from 70m-100m or so. I chose to go with Option 1 for two reasons, firstly because I knew that the Commonwealth troops were of a much higher quaility than mine therefore I could not out shoot them or dominate them by fire at the medium range, especially because they heavily out numbered my outpost force. The enemy troops' quality aposed to my slackish firing effects not to mention the weight of numbers against my troops meant that my unit if it fired at the medium range wasn't going to delay the approaching enemy for long before they would either be fixed and finished or suppressed and assaulted. The enemy also had tanks out there to silence such foolishly early ineffective delaying fire. ;)

Secondly, I reasoned that my inexperienced troops might at least achieve a close range ambush within grenade range with attendant enemy casualties and break up and rout part of the enemy before essentially forcing the following up enemy forces to mount a time consuming assault upon the outpost before overcoming it and pushing on. Thus by choosing Option 1, I was hoping to subsequently force an upsetting return play upon the enemy, or in one word delay.

Anyway, in my example I was very much hoping to destroy the first comers and then basically hide afterwards and do it all over again. However there were just too many enemy troops around to be able to rehide the outpost platoon after it had sprung its ambush. It did succeed in eliminating some and routing the rest of the other very close enemy units, as planned. But more and more enemy troops approached under the short coverred arcs, some of whom were also decimated while there were more firing as they approach in the medium range distance, so much so that my troops were rather quickly overwhelmed and overrun by being suppressed by a large volumn of medium ranged fire from in cover enemy troops & teams and finally close assualted by some enemy squads down to one man icon figures! :mad:

In my own personal AAR I reasoned that I would do it the same way again in that instance because it was in general terms the right thing to have done tactically speaking. In my apprasial of the above instance I estimated that the foreward outposted strong point had inflicted greater enemy casualties for both the amoung of fire it had managed to throw out and for expending their lives and liberties, (since some were captured) than if I had chosen to apply tactics along the lines of Option 2. IMO, the platoon would have been found, fixed and finished much more easily and quickly if it had have fire too early and ineffectively. It would also have meant that the enemy tanks would have been redirected to engage the platoon just that much sooner too. All in all while the platoon was wiped out it did manage to soak up a considerable amount of enemy troops, time and fire for what was lost, but much more than if I had have tried to shoot it out at a greater distance.

I also considerred the outpost to have been relatively successful in holding out since it was only taken out with a close assault by seriously depleted Infantry squads which could be considerred a near run thing because they could have been wiped out if my troops weren't so heavily suppressed and some already panicked! (I consider these things to have been computer veriables.) Anyawy I also estimate that it took the enemy troops some extra time to compose themselves afterwards and to continue their advance. When the units that had been decimated by the outpost garrison reached further opposition they didn't remain effective in the field for much longer because of the damage that they had sufferred earlier both in number and in morale! :cool:

As a general rule engage the enemy from the shortest distance attainable!

[ July 14, 2006, 08:25 PM: Message edited by: Zalgiris 1410 ]

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Point of interest in this discussion: is everyone assuming that the AI is the attacker? Frankly, I've never understood why a human attacker (assuming reasonable experience) would ever walk into an ambush as it is often described in this forum: i.e., a lot of enemy troops pouring into a kill sack defined by covered arcs, so that you kill him before you are spotted.

After all, in a CM game, you know there is an enemy on the map. You know something of the size, composition and general location of the defender. With a minimal amount of testing, you can easily determine if the defender is relying on an ambush (that is, you determine that he is not firing at range, so he must be holding fire for an ambush). A single half squad poked into an area will automatically trigger a ambush if it is set with covered arcs (which is one of the reasons I don't use them all that much). So, once you find out where the ambush has been set, you can deal with it without losing a lot of your troops in the discovery process.

There are certainly exceptional situations (in scenarios), and also very clever defensive tactics that you can use to fool the attacker into thinking there isn't an ambush (hard to do in a QB because so much, like setup location, is so rigidly predefined), but as a general rule, I think ambushing is overrated in CM, at least as far as infantry is concerned. IRL, as far as I can tell, it worked primarily when the attacking force thought they were moving through safe territory, or had very bad intelligence about the size and composition of the defender -- neither of which condition is duplicated in a CM battle.

AT ambushing is a different story, I think, because you can lose a whole AFV just to uncover an ambush, and ambushing AT guns can have layered covered arcs, rather than focusing all on a single kill sack. But then, that's why tanks need the infantry.

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I wasnt refering to AI. And I am not talking about a massive kill sack - although there are ways to do that. My point is that once you show yourself as a defender, you *should* expect to be killed very soon, because the attacker not only has more troops, but he can also concentrate them and attack limited units at a time.

So the issue is, do you show yourself from a long distance when you will not significantly hurt the attacker, or should you wait until you can eliminate him.

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When I posed the question and posted I was defending against the AI. I think the AI will easily fall for a solid contact hiding and be ambushed again. I cannot imagine a human be burned more than once or even at all, since such a situation would have called for supporting units to have the buildings under observation from the tree line and then checked out by maybe a half-squad.

One situation I think where it may be better to expend small arms ammo to less affect (immediate casualties) at greater range (again against the AI) is when the enemy is combined infantry and tanks. If you can strip away or halt the infantry, the AI may well keep the tanks comming leaving them pretty much blind to whatever traps await them.

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I only ever have played against the AI, so while I'm talking with that kind of poor quality opponent in mind I still think that the tactical principle of holding your fire to the shortest possible distance (within grenade ranged coverred arcs) holds true for a human as well. Even against a skilled one to be sure!

I imagine that it would be an even more important principle when defending against a proper cognitive opponent. There are a lot of tactical reasons why it would be a good idea to have hiding troops in exposed, forward or say flag holding or blocking positions use very short coverred arcs. Sometimes set ups allow players to set up isolated troops in very forward or cut off positions, especially in campaignes etc, with the choice of whether to leave them there or of placing them further back somewhere in the rest of their set up zone. Sometimes the is no choice and they have to stay out there! In such instances the player faces the same dilema: Option 1 or 2.

Plus there can be situations created by players in Meeting Engagements who have advanced say a platoon very fast or by vehicle very far forward into an advanced building in the way of an unsuspecting opponent. I try to do the same when on the defence in quick battles against the AI as well, usually because the terrain demands tactically that I do so while the set up zone runs short of some better deffensive positions. Thus the troops who have siezed the building must now hold out in the way of the advancing enemy, but how? Ambush maybe!

Even on the defence against a superior sized attacking or assaulting opponent a forward position or two such as a building or a clump of woods could be occupied by a small force as a sacrificial decoy position, while wishing to draw the attacker to it it is probably best done in a way that wastes the most of his time by forcing him to maneurvre against it over the longest period of time as possible. Soaking up his time if done with even a proper overwatch that finally results with the interuption of sufferring an ambush and then forcing him into launching a set piece assault against an insignificant portion of the defender weasting lives, ammo and time and may be becoming unco-ordinated on the process and thereby wasting more time in order to re-aline his attack formation etc.

A lot of players know about employing distant fire beyond the range where the firing units are only going to give away sound contacts and using spotters for artillery both on and off board. I'm pretty sure that a successful ambush upon a small proportion of the advancing enemy say a squad or a probing platoon can also result in them only receiving sound contacts while they are immediately suppressed, panic, break and rout or are just simply wiped out! Anyway an ambush that is at least able to spring itself is always going to upset an opponent, IMO hopefully.

[ July 15, 2006, 06:02 PM: Message edited by: Zalgiris 1410 ]

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routed and paniced units spot, but not very well.

Have you guys ever tried PBEM? I have tried to play CMBB against the AI twice but cannot even get halfway through the game. The entertainment value is not even comparable between AI and a human opponent.

If you have never played against a human, you really really should try it.

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Ambushing vs a human player is not easy, but certainly not unattainable. You just have to draw down your expectations. Most times you will not catch an entire company in the perfect kill sack. But you can, with proper planning and an understanding of your opponent's likely approach, set up narrowly defined areas of overwhelming firepower. Whether it is your platoon vs his squad, or something similar, it all boils down to having "more of yours vs less of his" in isolation.

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First: there is nothing wrong with playing against the AI, and if you are satisfied to learn tactics based on what works against the AI, then that is fine too. You own the game, so do what you like with it. smile.gif

Second: ambushing has a place in the tactics toolkit for CM, even against human opponents. My point was that while ambushing was/is a staple of real life combat, the conditions under which ambushes can be effectively created occur much less often in a CM battle than IRL. On the other hand, one of those conditions is having an attacking force commanded by an inexperienced and/or impulsive leader. The AI does a good job of providing that, so enjoy!

Third: to the extent that I use covered arcs (and I do, though more often for the attacking force than for defenders) primarily to conserve ammo and/or maximize the results from a given expenditure of ammo, I never forget that whatever distance I set the covered arc is essentially arbitrary (there is no clear dividing line at which the FP you expend becomes "effective" or "ineffective"). There is also an opportunity cost involved. That is, if I set the arc at 100m for example, I am giving up the opportunity to do some damage to a unit that's 101 meters away. And there is no significant difference, in my ability to do damage, in the single meter (assuming terrain is the same). An MG in CM will routinely kill or wound attackers in the open at more than 600m, yet there are knowledgeable players who will routinely keep that MG from opening fire at even close to that distance. My approach to defensive setup and tactics doesn't require setting those kind of limitations, so I don't.

Fourth: I posted earlier that the attacker's objective was to get within grenade range. I should have said that the attacker's objective is to get within grenade range in the same or better cover than the defender. For that reason, it is worth it to the defender to save some ammo (in keeping with Jason's point) to stop the attacker from making that last leap, if at all possible. However, it is lot easier to stop that final charge, if the attacker has been beaten up pretty thoroughly while getting there.

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Originally posted by SteveP:

First: there is nothing wrong with playing against the AI, and if you are satisfied to learn tactics based on what works against the AI, then that is fine too. You own the game, so do what you like with it. smile.gif

Sure there is nothing wrong with playing the AI. And I am in no way implying that one should be like me and never play the AI. But... if you never have played a human, you really ought to at least try a game - a 400 point QB or byte battle is quick and loads of fun. (I would be happy to play anyone who wanted to. :D )

And I would bet that most people who have played both feel that a human player is much more fun to play against.

Actually i would like to hear it if some people who have played against human opps really just think playing the AI is more fun. That would surprise me (unless you are like my bother-in-law who likes to play FPS games with invincibility/unlimited ammo/etc cheat codes).

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