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Abstract thinking to concrete methods

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Lately I have been experimenting with methods gleaned from other simulations and some real world experiences and have had some success. I realize that none of this is fresh or new but it works for me to have it presentied in a way I understand. Military theory generally baffles me so I have to find different ways to interpret it. I don't have a lot of experience against live opponents so I'd like to hear what other players think:

(1)Pawns vs. Knights: I've been assigning values to my units in an effort to determine who is expendible and who isn't. It may seem obvious but at the very end of a scenario you may find that 2 squads of infantry are more valuable than a tank (especially if it bogs!). Anyone who plays chess knows it is much easier to win if you save a few pawns for the end game.

(2)Combat Loss Grouping: (I did not concieve of this concept and if you want to know where I got just ask) Applies mostly to infantry but you can stretch it for vehicles. There is a point at which units that are enaged in combat will suddenly stop being effective. Through casualities, morale or ammo. If everybody is fighting at the same time then at a certian point a side will suddenly collapse from the pressure of combat instead of being slowly wittled away. If you can foresee a CLG coming you can take measures to prevent it and keep your forces viable longer and if you understand it try to inflict it on the other guy. Most players do this intuitively by keeping up supression, good coverage and fire support to keep the enemy engaged, you win faster by wearing out squads in groups than by trying to eliminate them one by one. This involves you putting out mucho ammo at the same time so If you run out of ammo before the other guy is broken you have a problem. Predicting how long a unit can fight is key.

(3) Field coverage: I think this is the easiest to understand and hardest to master especially because cover isn't static (buildings fall, smoke, direct v indirect fire). You want to see everbody and not be seen, and to shoot without being shot at and move without being hit. Easy!

Instead of areas and arcs I try to set up fire lanes. Imagine static lasers that the enemy must cross to achieve his objective. If you set up enough lanes you can set up a net that strangles the enemy. They cannot move or shoot without taking casualties. Eventually when you have set the field like a chess board you can march units right into his face and all he can do is watch. If you are really devious you can leave "holes" in your coverage that his forces will naturally move into, such as a big depression in the middle of the map. Then you shell him or roll over him with armor, whee!

(4) Caveats: Obviously you scheming will be for naught if all you have are 5 Stuarts and a regular platoon if he has 3 tigers and a Fanatic SS company. The reality of firepower cannot be ignored and big differences in firepower usually trumps tactics anyway.

But it sure is fun to talk about!

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Three concepts that have been most influential in my thinking (and by most influential, I mean that I keep trying to remind myself of them every time I start a battle):

1. JasonC's "rock, scissors, paper" analogy, with the idea that for every type of enemy unit (and it's specific form of terrain protection) there is a corresponding priority list of resources I have (or should have) to deal with it. I find that the biggest mistake I make usually, is trying to attack the scissors with paper when I've got a rock on the other side the battlefield. Another analogy would be the "match-up" philosophy of basketball coaches. Paying attention to those match-ups is fundamental.

2. Somewhat related to the above: making sure I have figured out a role to play for each of my resources in my battle plan. Part of that has to do with getting those match-ups correct and being disciplined about it. But it also means that I try not to leave someone on the bench who might have made a useful contribution somewhere along the way.

3. Specific to infantry -- and perhaps somewhat specific to the dynamics of CM as a simulation -- is the value of the company commander (and the battalion commander, if the battle is that big). This has also been something JasonC has harped on, and it has finally sunk in with me. In some ways, the company commander is like the Queen in chess, in terms of how many different ways the commander can contribute to actually implementing a battle plan. As Jason as pointed out many times, leaving the company commander back in some rear position, in a passive role, is probably one of the biggest waste of resources one can have.

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Main points of attrition thinking in CM.

The winner will be low on ammo but have at least half his force intact. The loser will lose his whole force. Ergo, winning requires expending your ammo no faster than the enemy is defeated, while losing automatically results if you spend ammo or manpower faster than you get rid of enemy units.

The best trade is your ammo for his bodies, but it is the rate that determines whether this is a game winner. You can win by trading a few bodies for all of his ammo just as easily, if he shoots too much at units in cover too good etc.

Everything is a trade. Even achieved clean kills are a trade, just of a risk undergone for its expected results. Enough risks combined have predictable results, though each is random.

Variance and risk help the guy who is behind. The leader should be damping them not ramping them up. You damp randomness by having lots of littles instead of a few big determinations.

Infantry rallies, ammo does not. Time is always a factor, but not always in the sense of haste.

"Last man standing" beats "furstest with the mostest", unless you can cash the latter for dead enemy on lopsided terms.

Leading units are typically the least effective, because the most exposed to enemy fire and the most restricted in their realistic options. So overprotect to threaten anything. The forces beyond those immediately needed do all the real battle-shaping work. This is the real reason mass matters on battlefields.

The biggest edge in all fighting is arranging for many on few match ups. Using the right weapon comes next. Cover differential is a distant third. Razzle and dazzle methods break both ways and rarely have a decisive impact.

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I like the chess analogies, Chess itself is a combat simulator so they work well.

However, sacrificing pawns in chess has no reprecussions on morale.

I would be a better Chess player if I sacrificed pawns. In CM though the ideal for me is

0 casualties and I believe it brings me favourable results. It can't really be achieved except if there is an imbalance or by a fluke but that's not the point. It's that I do not treat any unit as expendable. I'm not too sure how morale works in CM but I have found that when it hits the 80s my force is negatively affected, in its entirety, and fights far less effectively.

As for the point made about the Company HQ, I'm not certain that it's always wise to have them around. They can influence a platoon that's already under the command of it's own HQ who might be more experienced and with better abilities, thus detracting from instead of benefitting that platoon's effectiveness.

Now if the company HQ's exp. and abilities were added to those of the platoon HQ's (as I believe they should be) the former would be a most important element in the company.

Instead, I consider the company HQ to be more useful directing artilly fire from the rear, or commanding any support weapons that are left behind when the platoons advance from their forward positions.


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Company HQs do not override a platoon HQ if the latter is in command range, for its organic squads.

All teams, on the other hand, trace to the nearest.

The flexibility you get from a company HQ is much more than access to its bonuses, if those happen to be better. It about triples the physical space through which forces can be deployed and coordinated.

See, those platoons are short leashes, and two of them side by side are two short leashes, and can't transfer much from one to the other. Now, put a company HQ between them. Not only do you have a third HQ's worth of radius, but the squads on the right can range over the right 2/3rds of the formation, and those on the left over the left 2/3rds.

The platoon HQs no longer have fixed command spans of 3-4 squads, but can instead leave 1-3 of them behind whenever necessary, to jump out with another 1-3. They stop being babysitters and start been tactical leaders. The whole formation now does things like send one squad then an HQ across a road, and then feeds in squads as it extends in that direction. As many as you want or need - 1, 7, anything in between. While the other platoon HQ is unconcerned, nobody leaves command, etc.

As for zero casualties as a goal, it is an AI benchmark rather than a realistic one against humans. Against humans you have to be willing to trade units for units. They won't just hand you things while you remain in an invincible position. Instead they will let you stay there accomplishing little, or send HE only, etc.

As for chess principles, some that apply are development (getting intel and bringing heavy weapons to positions that bear on key terrain), central positioning, open lines vs. closed defenses, exchanges and chains of escalation they set off, "heavy wood" (armor) being strongest but also unwilling to risk itself over triffles, the way the game changes after one or both sides are out of it, risking weaknesses for "counterplay" vs. removing enemy chances, overprotecting key locations to free the units doing so to redeploy and to deter attempts to take them. Just for starters.

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Jason: I wanted to say that I really find the Bridge game analogies very interesting as well as the chess analogies. The "taking out trumps" phase in a combined arms battle, in particular. It also seems to me that there are a number of other such analogies: the finesse, for example. While there is no direct analogy to the bidding phase of bridge, one similarity to CM is that from the bidding you can make an educated guess as to the disposition of key cards in the defenders' hands. In CM, despite the FOW, you know a fair amount about what the defense will likely have, and where, from the structure of the game. And you can use finesse type tactics to force the defender into making a difficult choice about when to expose a key asset to potential counter fire. And so forth. I guess one thing I like about the analogy is that in Bridge there is a certain FOW, at least at the beginning of plat, which is not the case in chess. Also, in Bridge there is a hierarchy of relative strength/power, while in chess every piece if vulnerable to every other piece.

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JasonC, you're right about the company HQ not overriding squads within a platoon HQ's command. I had my doubts still, so I tested it. They go in company HQ command only when they are not in platoon HQ command.

Why is it then, that I remember some company HQ bringing absolute chaos upon his platoons and their support weapons in some woods where I was gathering my infantry preparing to attack? Units often move around at their own accord when they are under fire. Can it happen that the presence of a lesser company HQ might detract from his inferiors in rank but better equpped in abilities, by 'stealing' the command?

In a current PBEM that's nearing the end my company HQ stayed behind with 2 81mm until they expended most of their ammo, then practically took an ATRman by the hand to harass enemy armor and is now on his way to oversee the last push!

Kind Regards


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Being a newbe to this tactical stuff, I've been experimenting with some different things I've been reading on this site. JasonC's "blob" technique for infantry advance has helped my results a lot in that area. One thing I've found useful at times( admittedly against only the AI so far ), has been to use the company HQ to form a "fourth" platoon. I take the fourth squad( when available ) from each platoon, and give it to the company HQ for use as a fire team,reserve,etc. Depending on the bonuses of the company HQ, I'll most likely give it any green squads, with maybe a veteran for stiffening. I know this is veering of the main topic a bit, but a few posts mentioned what were some ways to employ the company HQ, and this might be useful in some instances.


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