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Hey all, first time posting but I have been a long time lurker so I hope ya'll don't mind. I have been reading JasonC's posts about good force mixes for small (300-400pt) quick battles, and cannot WAIT to try his suggestions out. However he has been talking about German units. I was wondering what is a good combined arms force for an attacking American 400 point QB? To me it seems that the plain vanilla US infantry company would do pretty well with a few shermans, with some recon/light tanks. I don't have the game in front of me tho so I can't quite figure out what would be feasable (sp?!). Any help, especially from the illustrious JasonC would be greatly appreciated. I just really like the basic US infantry co due to their pretty self contained nature. I mean in one (relatively) cheap unit you get 2 MMGs, an HMG, zooks, good infantry squads with nice long range firepower, and of course, the best small on map mortar of the game, the 60mm. What would I need to add to this force to make it a potent combined arms attack force?

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I was wondering what is a good combined arms force for an attacking American 400 point QB?
That depends on so many variables. What region / time of year / terrain type? An armor heavy force would do better in the Arid wastelands of Tunisia in March than the mountains of Italy in December.

Will you be attacking in mid-day in clear weather, or night in heavy fog?

Is it a probe, or all-out assault?

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OK, keeping to your parameters, and by choosing 'infantry' as the formation type with no casualties, I get 600 points for an allied attacker. With that I purchased the following:

3x Rifle platoons (2 reg, 1 green)

4x BAR teams (2 reg, 2 green)

2x M1919 MMG teams (reg)

2x 60mm mortar teams (reg)

1x M8 HMC (reg)

Several factors influenced my purchase. First, with only 400 points I expect the German force to field a max of two platoons, a couple of MGs / guns and a few fortifications. They only get 74 points to spend on armor, which means only a green Marder IIIM - not a good investment for the money. Better to spend those points on support weapons. Therefore, I assume not to encounter any enemy armor in this battle. The lighter vehicles, such as gun-armed HTs, are possible shows, but I have 3 bazookas and the HC-armed M8 to counter it.

The other factor is my own personal preference, which itself is based on years of playing the game. I've learned that you can do more, and have a greater chance of success, if you maximize the infantry component of your force OOB. A tank will certainly have its impact on the battle, but it is one unit, and if lost the player is out 1/4 his force. Besides, the above parameters only give the allied player 111 points, which means only the Stuarts, M8 or M10 are allowed. Of those three the M8 is the best buy given the anticipated opposition.

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CMAK QB pricing has problems. The biggest issue is the huge cost of the realistic artillery modules. The cost of good response time was inflated enourmously. Also the 105s come only in a regimental 6 tube form, when a divisional 4 tube form would be far more common. As a result, US forces in particular are basically stripped of their main realistic strength, excellent artillery support. It is simply not afforable in QBs - the point limits won't let you take it until the fight is huge etc.

Because of this, I strongly prefer scenarios for Italy CMAK. For desert fighting between Brits and DAK it is fine - armor and towed guns are the focus of that.

The realistic way to fight the Americans for Italy is to take an infantry company and then round it out with various forms of support. That support is awful thin at the 400 point attack level - less than 100 points. So I recommend small QB sizes of 500 or 600 rather than 300 or 400.

Realistically they would also have a 105mm FO, but those run nearly 400 points. Or a 155mm FO, which runs 300 points. Those are overpriced by about a factor of 2. You can bump the point limit with the balance feature and just not use them all to get around this, though it is cumbersome.

See, in Italian hill fighting the focus was very much on infantry taking high points and using them to call fire on other high points. The terrain did not favor razzle dazzle by vehicles, because they were restricted to valley bottoms, bottlenecks formed there using obstacles or PAK etc.

If you do stay at the 400 point level, your choices are to take the plain vanilla company or to focus the fight on the support and take only 2 platoons of infantry. The simplest version of the first is just a veteran infantry company, nothing else.

Here are typical useful support additions, not limited to what fits in the combined arms limits of 400 or between a company and the 600 point overall budget. They are meant to be both effective and fairly realistic - unlike say an M8HMC horde (which just exploits the low price per item etc).

Direct artillery - 1-2 105mm howitzers on map, 1 M3 or M3A1 halftrack as prime mover 87-130 points

Air - 1xP39 or P40 air support, regular or vet 115-187 points

Armor - 1 Sherman (early) or Sherman 105 133-145 points

Cavalry - 1 M8 Greyhound, 2 M-20s 128 points

AAA - 40mm Bofors, M3A1 halftrack, HMG-1917 (5 man) or 50 cal - 125 points

-or- AAAW - 2 M16 Quad 50 halftracks - 98 points

HMGs - 2-3 HMG-1917, 1 M3A1 halftrack 84-116 points

Some realistic forms of support require higher point limits to work right. E.g. it is perfectly realistic to take a engineer platoon and 1-2 Sherman 105s as a bunker-busting detail (with the FTs riding them to dead ground etc) - but it will run you 300-500 points on top of the 500 points for the company.

Similarly, realistic TD support is 2 M10s and 2 M20s (or jeep MGs) to scout for them, but runs you 276 points. They weren't meant to work alone and aren't useful until the Germans can have meaningful armor support themselves, though, so they don't really fit in fights this small.

Some pointers and realism comments. The towed 105s at 43 points are very cheap, especially compared to 394 for an FO. They have the tow characteristics of divisional guns, though - worse than is realistic actually. They also lack gunshields - which is true of the pack howitzers (which would be transport class 5 really - they were readily towed by jeeps e.g.).

The HMG-1917s were historically used mostly for positional defense, but in the game they are quite useful for their higher fp compared to the air cooled 1919s and for their high ammo loads. The 7 man teams are full squads for transport purposes, the 5 man ones will fit 2 in a halftrack. Since they are slow, you want a prime mover for them, but don't have to move them all at once.

Realistically the best thing would be 4 and 6 man 1919 teams with ammo 75 and 120 or so. The actual practice in Italy was to bring a modest number of these lightest MGs and then have as many men as possible carry their ammo. 50s were little used because hauling their extra weight up and down hillsides made little sense. The scarce item was carrying ability not surge fp. A few guns and lots of ammo for them, therefore. But in CM, the M1919s are somewhat underpowered in fp terms, the company defaults are low ammo, the others with 105 won't fit in a jeep etc.

On mortars, the 81 FOs may seem tempting as the only affordable artillery, but they are still overpriced and not terribly effective against dug in enemies. On map 81s are worth it if you buy more, as only 3 point more than a 60mm. But they are slow speed. Normally you have better uses for support points, which are cramped because of all the points spent there for the company weapons.

The mortar carriers are only realistic for armor division parent forces. The same is true of the Priests, which are easily the best supporting armor for a small mostly infantry fight. But gamey if an ID parent is intended. Bump the size and take a plain Sherman 75 instead.

This means the vehicle screen is mostly used for thin MG armed light armor. The cavalry types - M8 and M20 and M3 Scout Car - are adequately protected against mere HMG-42s from the front, but the plain halftracks are not. That greatly limits their use. Normally the exact thing you want MG light armor for is hosing down a machinegun nest. Only works with squad targets in CMAK because the HMG-42 is given such generous armor killing ability etc.

The air support suffers from similar overpricing issues as the FOs, for the most realistic common types. That is largely because the bomb loads are unrealistically huge for them. They went with theoretical maximums rather than tactical realities. E.g. a P-47 typically carried 2 500 lb bombs, not 2 1000s and 1 500 in addition. A P-51 typically carried a single 500 lb bomb. Those loads are present in the game on the P-40 and P-39 respectively, which are the affordable ones in consequence. The P-39 also has 37mm strafing.

How do you use these various forms of support? You set up a firing line based on heavy weapons. Sometimes you will have to advance it to LOS of the objective, depending on the sort of hills you draw etc. One platoon and the heavy weapons HQ generally stay with those, the platoon may be light a squad or two transfered to the company HQ. If there were FOs they'd go there too.

Then another platoon, sometimes light a squad and its zook, scouts ahead for the company main body. Which is the best platoon plus the company HQ and everything stripped from the others. The scouts get shot at and the overwatch blows up whatever did it to them. Repeat until the point is well as truely stopped by a main position.

Then the overwatch goes "mad minute" - everything firing and realistically the FO calling a fire mission - while the company main body picks a direction to approach and rushes into cover within good rifle range of the enemy position. Fire from there. When the enemy are heads down (or, realistically, when the FO's barrage ends) the main body rushes to grenade range.

The lightened platoon with the overwatch frequently comes forward late as a reserve. Early on it guides the heavy weapons into positions, going first to make sure they are clear of enemies etc. It then defends the heavy weapon position with rifle fire, spreads eyes around, etc.

Enemy armor is treated as a distraction in all of the above. The ranged weapons back at the firing position are the main counter. Since they can't see everything, vehicles with guns are sometimes needed instead. And zooks stay up with the main body (though not the point platoon "scouts" - too vulnerable) to push to positions with forward LOS, over a crest or past a body of woods etc.

Sometimes some of the medium speed heavy weapons go with the company HQ in the main body. A single 60mm is typical. Meant to get spotted LOS to e.g. a gun position that can't be seen from the overwatch position. If the map is quite hilly this may increase to 2 MMGs and 1-2 60mm.

Probably not as specific as the original poster wanted. But the strict 400 setting is really too rigid for US CMAK forces.

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There is a way to deal with some of the problems that Jason identified. That is to create a battle map using the random map generator in the scenario editor, and assigning a few specific units to that map (e.g., a couple of American FOs). Then you launch a QB, and choose that scenario map rather than a map generated by the QB tool (keeping the scenario units, of course). If you want to maintain some balance, you could give both sides some units in the scenario editor. A good option for the defense would be some mines or wire, since those are unrealistically limited in CM as well. If you know you are doing an attack, just use about two-thirds the number of points for defense units as for attacker in the scenario editor.

Some other advantages to this approach are: ability to make a map that is deeper than a QB map, which allows the defense to construct a deeper defense (but would be a problem if you make the AI the attacker); you can place the flags in more logical places than the QB generator does; and you can tweak the setup zones to make them more logical. By taking a little more time, you can fix unrealistic terrain features as well. With a little practice, this can go quite quickly. Another advantage is that you have more flexibility to replay on this map. For example, with a pure QB, you can't go back and replay using a slightly difference mix of units. But with this approach you can.

Disadvantages: you have to make some of the decisions that the QB generator does for you (e.g., size of map), and there are extra steps you have to go through to tweak the map (like placing the flags and adjusting setup zones).

Another advantage of sorts: based on what I've read in the CMSF forum, it appears this is somewhat closer to what we will doing to create our own battles in the new version of CM.

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