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From the Stuka movie thread:

Originally posted by Stalin's Organ:

The reason for putting the armoured deck under the hanger was to keep the centre of gravity lower.

It may have had something to do with making a stiffer hull too for a given amount of steel employed. But I'm not a naval architect, so that could be well off the mark. I agree that it had the effect of reducing tophamper.


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John Ketter - of course I've read "Firepower". It paints a picture of Napoleonic era weapon effectiveness that is demonstrably far too high. It also obsesses over ROF issues that can have had no appreciable effect in battles that lasted hours, in which the men carried ammo sufficient for less than half a hour of sustained firing. What it consistently fails to do is cross check its analysis with the flow of actual battles and deduce what must have actually occurred. It suffers all the defects of typical "weaponeering" style analysis, which we know consistently inflate the effectiveness of all weapon systems.

As for Stuka-Gs being worth a regiment, why is that a compliment? On the most favorable reading, worth a panzer regiment, it suggests they took out maybe 50 tanks. The average G might have taken out a couple over its operational life. (In CM, they take out a couple in 5 minutes).

Again, your statements suffer from that hardy perennial, citing own side claims and even propaganda to assess the effectiveness of a weapon system. Only other side reports - not anecdotes, actual equipment accounting - or detailed after action survey of the field (not flip officer comments, teams of ORs or historians) can establish actual weapon effect. How many cases of own side claims of 50 dead AFVs that in fact only killed 4 does it take before such an utterly obvious point is grokked?

As for the gun's characteristics, the leading one is simply "6 rounds per gun". Effective air to ground armament has characteristics like "16 rounds per second". To get a gun that will go through armor, the part that is actually hard - hitting a gosh-darn thing - was sacrificed.

For a skeptical view of the value of armored CV decks -


I find some of the arguments in it forced and implausible. (Britain retired CVs after the war primarily for budget reasons, not damage). But the details on total hits, whether they actually hit the uparmored locations, the limited number of cases in which the RN claims the armor made a difference - those are on point.

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JasonC and troops,

FIREPOWER may not be perfect, but I was amazed ANY

such trials from the period were made, let alone

recorded. I likewise found recent modern Civil War firing tests (on the History Channel), against plywood figures in attack posture and appropriately dispersed, to be eye opening, as did a bunch of reenactors and historians, some of whom looked positively ill. I invite you to compare the damage there with the horrific descriptions provided by Gettysburg historian and

battlfield guide James Cocos, in his two Gettysburg Monographs, of some of the victims, with various limbs blown off or upwards of a dozen hits from case shot bullets, yet still alive.

While I certainly would agree that live fire experiments represent an upper bound on kill potential for the firing unit, it is equally true

that, under certain conditions, the casualty norms can go right out the window. At Gettysburg, in the course of a few hours, a company from a Virginia

regiment, exposed to fire from Cemetary Ridge and enfiladed by cannon fire from Round Top (and Little Round Top?) was reduced to one man. One man! That's something like a 99% loss rate. Pickett's Division, of which said company was a part, was essentially destroyed by that same Union firepower, as evidenced by Pickett's famous answer to Lee, "Sir, I have no division." Likewise, at Iwo Jima, and in a few hours, a Marine tank regiment equipped with Shermans lost

26 tanks of some 34. The experience of the Royal Fusiliers?, at the hand of a single motivated tank commander, Wittman, is well known. The Gulf War battle of 73 Easting, conducted on our side by a handful of M1HA tanks and Bradley CFVs, produced

real world lethality, against a large, dug-in Iraqi armored formation, so large as to be almost incomprehensible, yet it happened, as did a 5km

tank kill from a Challenger.

The average casualty rates, over the long term, indeed fall in the ranges you state, but at the sharp end, whole smaller formations are simply shredded. I personally know a WWII infantry vet whose squad was marching in open column cross country, only to have a single 120mm mortar round land in the squad file. Two men dead and I believe three wounded in an instant--way beyond your average daily loss norms. The divisional casualty rate may be low, but at the sharp end of the spear, the losses are such that the units in contact don't last long, and the actual fighters, a small percentage of the total divisional manpower, are lost at a high rate, rapidly defanging the unit until replacements can be found. Assault landings are even worse, for there it is alarmingly common to lose entire platoons when a landing craft takes a direct hit from a shell or has the ill fortune to drop the ramp in front of a fully functional pillbox. U.S. Army studies in the late 80s found that while mortars and artillery caused 80% of the aggregate divisional combat losses, at the platoon level, the real killer was fire from small arms, inflicting 80% of the troop losses at platoon and below.

Nor have we discussed the "natural fighters" and their effect on a battle, yet such people, in even small numbers, can exert immense influence on outcomes. S.L.A. Marshall, in his THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET, likens the lead combat elements to the sensitive fingertips and fingers of their larger units, and it is upon the actions or inactions of these fingertips that battles are won or lost. In one Korean War case, a solitary grunt held his hilltop ground throughout a night of Chinese human wave attacks, winding up, when dawn came, in sole possession of the battlefield! Study after study confirms that a handful, out of a large pile of theoretical shooters, does most of the killing, while the remaining ones do little or nothing. A Sgt. York, a Zaitsev or Koenig; the Confederate sniper who killed Union general Sedgewick in mid sentence ("they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist")-- all exerted enormous influence on at least local events and performed way beyond the norm. Army trials found that 5% of the Dragon gunners got 80%

of the hits, and so forth. Most pilots, especially U.S. ones on short combat tours, might get no kills, but you also have Bong with 40 and such Germans as Marseille, who didn't last long but got five Tomahawks in one well documented mission, in a matter of minutes, never mind the Experten. If ex-GRU officer Suvorov (actual name Rezun) is to be believed, the Russians understood

the natural shooter concept so thoroughly that they would put up an entire fighter regiment simply so that a Kozhedub could fight, unimpeded by having to watch his tail. As for Rudel, last I checked, the battleship Marat sinking has not been disputed, and even if his AFV kill total is off by a factor of ten, which I rather doubt, that's still four Russian tank companies (40 tanks) destroyed by one man. Like it or not, unrepentant Nazi Rudel was and remains the single most successful tankbuster pilot in history, and his opinions were very carefully solicited in designing what ultimately became the A-10, arguably plane for plane the most deadly tankbuster ever fielded.

Combat Mission, by its very nature, models the small unit battle at the tip of the spear, and it is here that the sorts of statistical outliers described above become big deals. You can have a Horatius at the bridge, wherein a single tank, AT gun, MG team or squad, in the right place and the right time, can inflict losses so staggering as to

disrupt or even stop an attack. Airpower may in aggregate not be all that effective, but if the 500 lb. bomb lands on your tank or in your CP, then its theoretical performance becomes moot at that point. The real life loss of a few critical lead vehicles in an otherwise impassable defile or chokepoint can stop a large force for hours (Das Reich en route to Normandy, Peiper at Stavelot when the lead King Tiger was detracked by a 57mm AT gun as it entered the narrow bridge), though the game doesn't allow roads to be blocked by combat damage. Similarly, the Allies' introduction to the Panzerschreck came at Anzio when a single team took out a succession of scarce mine clearing tanks, holding up the entire jump off process until the plucky team was neutralized. A single Luftwaffe 88 battery, brought into action at pistol point by Von Lucke at Goodwood, was instrumental in wrecking the advance, and it was also there that the loss of the single air liaison officer's tank (presumably as part of careful German training in finding and targeting command vehicles) completely derailed the plan for close air support. During the battle for Germany, a single 2cm flak gun caught an American infantry platoon emerging from the woods and through a combination of grisly direct hits and lots of flying shell and tree splinters, basically killed or wounded half of the platoon and stopped the advance cold. Try doing that in CM! And the other side of this coin lies in things like the dreaded

gun hit, which both battlefield photography (famously the KV-2 pictures) and numerous veterans' accounts show did occur. An 88 hit on a Stuart should kill the tank outright, but it is a documented fact that at least one Stuart crew survived a through and through turret flank shot at point blank range and reversed out of the line of fire. See either TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES or the supporting interviews at www.tankbooks.com (unsure of URL) for the details, together with other amazing accounts, including a full penetration of a Sherman followed by the driver's winding up with a smoking, unexploded 88 shell at his feet. The Russian AT rifles theoretically could do nothing to a Tiger I, but I have seen a Tiger company readiness report post Kursk indicating the entire company was sidelined while waiting for vision blocks, unit stores having been exhausted because almost every tank had multiple smashed blocks and was unfightable until these were replaced. Worse, there were many commander casualties, some quite serious, caused by having the blocks and supports smashed into their faces and eyes. No gun breakdowns occur in CM, communication is never lost when aerials are shot away (yet the German tankers really carried spares), and contrary to popular belief, not every American tank had radio transceivers. I've seen credible info indicating

that in some Sherman units at least, only the platoon leader and his assistant had

transceivers, with the rest of the platoon equipped to receive only.

Examples of the huge swings in lethality include the SA-2 SAM in Vietnam, which initially was downing one plane for every two missiles launched, a war losing 50% loss rate, yet tactics, jamming (aided immensely by CIA espionage against the essentially identical model used by the Indonesians) and defense suppression ultimately pared this down to a fraction of a percent loss rate. Exocet performance during the Falklands War was similarly extremely good early on, and the American Maverick TV guided antitank missile was so accurate and so lethal (was never countered) during the Yom Kippur War that the Israeli military complained the tanks hit by it couldn't be repaired. The Sparrow missile used in Vietnam theoretically was deadly, but performed poorly against MiGs (much more agile than the designed bomber target), especially since something like 80% of the shots were made from outside the designed launch envelope, such shocking insights and unacceptable air combat loss ratios (near unity, vs. 14:1 in Korea) leading to the genesis of the Top Gun program. During the already cited Yom Kippur War, the Israeli military got a series of brutal lessons in the lethality of modern warfare, including air losses to integrated ground defenses (SA-2, SA-6, ZSU-23/4 and other AAA) so severe that CAS had to be suspended until the defensive sites could be destroyed by tank assault on the far side of the Suez Canal and the virtual annihilation of the 190th Tank Brigade by combined Sagger and RPG fires. Would point out that the drubbings from the Exocet and Sagger both caused fundamental panic and deep crisis in defense circles worldwide, leading to severe doubts regarding the viability of surface ships and tanks in the face of modern weaponry. AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air misiles in the Falklands scored kills

in some 80% of their launches, too.

I could go on and on, but my fundamental point is that aggregate lethality, at the macro level, is one thing. At the level of CM, though, the outliers come home to roost, often with devastating effect because of the small unit sizes. Nonetheless, this can happen in real combat, too. Remember the poor Brit (flattened by the recoil from firing it while standing) who stood in the street, killed two Panthers singlehandedly with his PIAT, lived to tell about it, and won the VC? The average Tommy probably never saw a German tank, let alone killed one, but HE killed two!


John Kettler

[ September 04, 2005, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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John, you simply aren't facing the problem. Aggregate lethality is the weighted sum of all the small scale ones. If some of those weighted sums are far above average, many more have to be below that average - that is what average means.

So, what are the units actually doing most of the time, that they manage to get achieved lethality result below even the already low average, to make room for your favorite outliers?

You simply do not address the question. Let there be all the distinction in the world between *rare* front line incidents and the overall average of many front line incidents. What are all the front line incidents that are average, or less than average, like?

No weaponeer has ever told us. Not because there isn't data on it, and not because it does not matter. But because spanning the claims and outliers, and the clearly seen overall average, requires conclusions about typical willingness of soldiers to engage, to take losses and continue their mission, to close with the enemy, etc, that are deeply, deeply outside the little box of ideal behavior officers (and wargamers) carry around in their heads.

It is absurd to cite a mortar shell that kills 2 and wounds 3 and thinks it tells us anything about the war as a whole. It is painting the bullseye around the arrow after it it hits the target. (Selection on the success rate).

As for the 80% small arms vs. 80% arty, it is an accounting error. It is not losses *to platoons* that are 80% small arms, as though arty is ignoring the bulk of the men at the front but raining havoc among the cooks and drivers. There aren't 80% of the overall casualties to apportion out among the cooks and drivers - almost all the losses are to the front line infantry platoons, *and* almost all the losses are to artillery. And we know to a certainty, as a merely mathematical consequence, that most of the losses to the front line platoons were also from artillery.

The accounting error is that selection was done on the scale of after action reporting, not on units engaged over the whole war. That is, you take a bunch of after action reports of battalion fights and put them in one pile. You take a bunch of after action reports of company fights and put them in another pile. Last you take a bunch of after action reports of platoon fights and put them in another pile. There aren't platoon reports from each company in the company fights. There aren't company reports from each company in the battalion fights. One report per fight.

Thus, the pile sorts on the scale of the overall engagement. The platoon reports are going to be of patrol actions (or later, ambushes in Nam), while the battalion reports are going to be of major attacks. Artillery is less heavily used in small fights, in patrol actions, etc. That is all the statistic is telling us. Not, remotely, that somehow 80% of infantry losses can magically be re-assigned to small arms. They cannot.

And the reason this matters is, 80% of infantry losses to arty, and most of the remainder to machineguns, means precious few to the men and their small arms. If their natural fighters are getting most of even that remainder, the wounds assignable to most infantrymen with their personal weapons are miniscule. So what the heck are they doing?

In the 95% of battles not sexy enough to enter the dispatches, among the 99% of men who don't have their own agents and press operations, for 90% of the calendar time, what the heck is supposedly going on? And don't imagine there is any way to make it not matter. Because the outliers aren't remotely numerous enough to account for the real operational outcomes.

Richard Bong and five other aces did not destroy the Japanese air force in the south pacific. A bunch of much more ordinary pilots who got a kill or two apiece did. The 40,000 German AFVs that had to be KOed to win the war were not all taken out by the hottest hotshot in his bouncing Hellcat. It is romance and nonsense, not military analysis. It may be useful for morale, it may inculcate a can-do attitude, but it is *physically* false.

Nor will appeals to modern smart weapons help your case. I have careful delimited the period I advance my thesis about - from the dawn of gunpowder (and before it, equally true of hand power missiles and melee weapons) to the smart firepower revolution, absolutely staggering quantities of firepower have been expended over inexplicably huge lengths of time, to inflict unbelievably thin losses among the participants.

If you want to consider Gettysburg I'll consider Gettysburg. I'll even focus on Pickett's charge.

First, 170 Confederate guns bombarded the Union position for 2 hours. Perhaps 1:45 if you allow slacking at the end. They began with about 200 rounds per gun, but not all of it roundshot or shell. They still must have fired 25,000 to 30,000 rounds at the Union lines, 1200 yards away. They hit a few hundred people, perhaps 1 in a 100.

Then the infantry attack sent 12500 men against about 5500. Now here is the kicker nobody pays attention to and no movie has ever shown. The infantry attack *took an hour*. The Rebs started 1000 yards from the Union line and punched into it no more than 100 yards or so at any point. Walking, that might take 15 minutes. The portion of time spent out of musket shot can't have been more than a quarter of the total.

Thus, 18000 men walked into action against each other, and shot at each other at ranges from 400 yards down to point blank for 45 minutes. 1500 Union and 7500 Confederates were hit, including those hit by artillery. The average Union soldier might have hit *one* Rebel in 45 minutes, maybe 1.2 at the outside, leaving very modest amounts to the guns. Only one Reb in 10 hit anything. But some of them went down. On the Union side that might push the riflemen hits to 1.5 or so, among those who went the distance. On the Rebel side it might be 0.2 instead of 0.1.

Half the Rebels walked or ran back from the killing ground without a scratch.

So, firing at 400 yards to point blank for 45 at least, with weapons that readily fire several times a minute, and targets initially consisting of long lines of men walking upright across an open field, and later crowds of men with an occasional tree for cover, how did the average Union soldier manage to hit the mark only once or twice?

If you aren't a romantic it is easy to understand. The Union lines pulled back from the military crest, as "too hot". The Rebs got into the shelter of the hill. For the middle half of the time, only fringes of men on either side were in LOS of each other. In other words, they *avoided each other*. They gave each other space.

The brush was still close enough to cut the Rebs in half in less than an hour. But not because every minute each Union private fired 2-4 times and hit once or twice. If they had been that accurate, the fight would have taken *2 minutes*. And *nobody* would have come back from it, on the rebel side.

If I am as generous as possible with overkill estimates, I might boost the Union side achieved accuracy to 3-4 hits. Most were not "overkilled", since most of the wounded were wounded not killed. Many of the killed must have been from the artillery, much harder to survive. This has to be compared to the fact, that the firing time was more than sufficient to expend the entire ammo load the men carried and more, and with rifled muskets at massed targets, to theoretically put down 30-40 men apiece in that period of time. Which they did not remotely do.

And of course, this was an outlier in bloodiness on the field of Gettysburg, where the fight lasted 3 days, and most of the men who walked onto the field walked off in again without a scratch. And Gettysburg was an outlier in bloodiness among civil war battles.

[ September 04, 2005, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Never-the-less teh casualties did happen, and the morale effects of those low effectiveness rates weer considerable.

I have some issues with this point:

Aggregate lethality is the weighted sum of all the small scale ones. If some of those weighted sums are far above average, many more have to be below that average - that is what average means.

Mainly that it seems to cover only "actions", whereas "average" covers everything - not only actions - it also covers "inactions" - where nothign is happening at all - unopposed patrols, quiet sectors of the front, steaming to and from operational areas, etc.

But everyone is still ignoring the fact that thsi is a GAME, and that it covers a limited amount of time and space, and that SOMETHING has to happen in that time and space to make teh game worthwhile.

All this information is really interesting and I love reading it, but it's also ultimately pointless for the game unless it can be translated into something that is meaningful in game terms, and still allows the GAME to occur.

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No Mike, that can reduce the time but not all the other aspects of the average, ammo expenditure for instance. Nor can one make the discrepancy disappear by focusing on active periods. The average day of frontal assault by an infantry division in Normandy, for example, looks nothing like CM (statistically).

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But even the average assault at Normandy includes long periods of doing nothing by lots of people.

If every person fights for 1 hour per day, non-stop, then you have 23 hours per day where they are not fighting - now of course no-one fights non-stop anyway but my point is that there are ALWAYS large measures of person-time (man-hours or whatever you choose to measure them in) where those men are not fighting - often they aren't even in the "front line".

The game of CM* ignores all of that time entirely - it seeks to represent only those times where there was decisive action happening - probably less than 1% of the total time avaialble.

And then it only does it in 15-60 minute chunks - so we're getting only the active bit of hte sharp end.

I'm reminded of the old saying that combat is long periods of sheer boredom punctuated by short segments of sheer terror.

I dont' have any first hand accounts, but for example I had a great uncle killed in WW2 (bad luck - got captured in Nth Africa then killed when the ship he was going to Italy on was sunk by a Brit Sub! :( ) - he was a rifleman, and as far as I can tell from various bits and pieces he never fired a shot in anger before the whole battalian he was in was attacked in the open by German tanks and surrendered after being machine-gunned for an hour or 2.

[ September 04, 2005, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: Mike ]

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JasonC, I spent half of the last thread trying to convince you that weaponeering from proper data has *some* reliability and you come in here and debunk it straight away *shakes head* tut, tut, tut.

Believe it or not JC, but you just weaponeered Pickett's charge to some degree.

Emrys - I agree with you on the normal to line of flight stuff and am aware of Allied train-strafing tactics to avoid AAA. The problem was in the explaining 'linear gun run' meaning 'walking fire onto a traget' rather than 'linear target along line of flight'.

So, will aircraft carriers be in CMx2? I'm just failing to see the relevence to either CMAK or CMx2. (TIC)

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Yet again JasonC believes his macro view is the only realistic view of warfare and that it translates to all action whereas all the points about the tip of the spear being where the action happens appears to pass him by.

CM publish a nice little book about the CMAK arena full of the unlikeliest incidents, including non-lethal incidents that should have been lethal.

They all happened so what is JC's beef about us alluding to them. We all know that warfare was chaos, and that only a few troops were experten, logistics were important, artillery was a killer etc.

Nobody has problems with that it just seems that JC wants us to ignore what happened on the front line - or at least subsume it into what the entire division, army or front did that day/ month /year/course of the war.

The FAA was brilliant at Taranto. In my time scale of one day thye look brilliant to me. I suspect that JC can prove conclusively that for all the men /aircraft/ fuel and weapons used during the war they were less effective than ..... whatever. It is immaterial to my mind what they did over the war, they did do on that one day is sufficient reason to model/play an action on.

As for this


does show the winners losses at Gettysburg at about 20%. I would call that fairly heavy given that the losses were no doubt spread over comparatively few divisions of the entire Army.

So I have JC's explanation as to how ineffective the weapons/tactics were at Gettysburg but end up with 20% casualties - makes you wonder how they managed it. Probably a statistical aberration : )

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Mike - if you follow one person, yes you will find him out of action a lot. But the front is continuously manned. If you scan along that continuous front at one point in time, yes you will find quiet sectors, lots of them. But there will be fighting going on somewhere pretty much continuously.

Now, let's focus in on a unit on the front line, a place that isn't quiet, as the unit attacks. It is (say) a regiment of infantry fighting 2 battalions up and 1 back, attacking behind a barrage. Will it look like CM? Nope.

How do I know? Because 4-6 company scale actions in CM won't inflict 100 losses or less on the attacking side. Not remotely. Wrong order of magnitude. Nor will the attacks take several hours in CM, which they did in the real deal. Nor do they burn a week's ammo in half an hour.

So what is going on? Not for the units off the line, not on the adjacent sections of the front. But right up there at the tip of the - wet noodle? Answer, they are feeling their way forward much more tenatively than we do in CM. They are sending shells for a bit, and finding everyone is gone when the follow them. Opponents are shooting three times and pulling back. Men are firing at suspicious areas and hitting nothing.

And when a unit gets mortared and loses 5-10 guys, they don't say "thank you sir may I have another?", rally in 2 minutes, and banzai up the hill slaughtering anyone in their path, for all the world like Sergeant Rock was a typical historical personage. No. They pin, they give up, they evac wounded, they pull back and dig in.

(Global morale effects are so weak they barely exist - the real ones were very important. Confusion effects are almost non-existent for humans).

On the subject of 20% losses at Gettysburg and somebody thinking those are high, try playing a 3 day op in CM and see if you can manage to get 70% of both sides combined to walk off the field alive afterward. These guys fought in close order at ranges down to point blank, 150,000 of them on a tiny field, and fired at each other for days. And most of them didn't have a scratch.

How? Has any wargame you've ever seen gotten it right? TSS undoubtedly came closest. But just attacking as recklessly as possible as troops arrived, could ensure a Reb victory with huge losses.

And they had volleys of 1000 rifles at 250 yards for 20 minutes, on average hit 100 men. If the target had typical cover advantages, it might take 1500. Where is that 1% accuracy or less supposed to come from? And it still gets the overall losses too high, when played with the degree of aggressiveness the game allows and rewards.

Last, no there is absolutely nothing unusual in 20% of one side being casualties in a major battle. Indeed, most battles featured 10-20% losses for the victors and 20-40% for the defeated. But thinking that high is based on some bizarre sense of normal, that does not sit so well with also thinking it normal to disable multiple enemies with one's weapons. Because they mean 2/3 to 5/6 of the men who walked onto the field, did not hurt a single soul on the other side. So why did the fights take hours or days?

You can't wave the issue away, it is real, not an illusion. The standard picture of combat we have from wargames, that units all arrayed and under command doing exactly what they are told as organized blocks, mashed continually against enemies and attrited each other as fast as their weapons could fire, is entirely imaginary.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

You can't wave the issue away, it is real, not an illusion. The standard picture of combat we have from wargames, that units all arrayed and under command doing exactly what they are told as organized blocks, mashed continually against enemies and attrited each other as fast as their weapons could fire, is entirely imaginary.

I couldn't have said more eloquently myself. Hurrah! And that's why I play CM, its illusory and imaginary. I don't want blood and guts, just escapism. It's why I don't tend to complain about CM as a simulation. Its realistic enough for me. If you start to add more realism, you have to add complexity. If its too complex, I don't wanna play. So the perfect balance is somewhere between realism and playability - i.e. CM!

Just my $0.02 after reading JC's post. :D

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"On the subject of 20% losses at Gettysburg and somebody thinking those are high, try playing a 3 day op in CM and see if you can manage to get 70% of both sides combined to walk off the field alive afterward. These guys fought in close order at ranges down to point blank, 150,000 of them on a tiny field, and fired at each other for days. And most of them didn't have a scratch. "

I am bemused . .. I thought we agreed that most people do not fight but stand around waiting for sonmething to happen whilst a few units get really chewed up. So how come its now "150,000 of them on a tiny field, and firing at each other for days"

I wish you would be consistent in whether everyone is involved for days, or that most are doing not a lot for days. I think it unfair for you to argue both points to suit your viewpoint.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Mike - if you follow one person, yes you will find him out of action a lot. But the front is continuously manned. If you scan along that continuous front at one point in time, yes you will find quiet sectors, lots of them. But there will be fighting going on somewhere pretty much continuously.

Probably - isn't that what I said?

And isn't that why the averages are so low? Over the vast majority of hte front nothign at all is happening, even tho it is manned and "ready for action".

How do I know? Because 4-6 company scale actions in CM won't inflict 100 losses or less on the attacking side. Not remotely. Wrong order of magnitude. Nor will the attacks take several hours in CM, which they did in the real deal. Nor do they burn a week's ammo in half an hour.

Galatas, Crete

'nuf said - I suspect there are plenty of other examples ex

You can't wave the issue away, it is real, not an illusion. The standard picture of combat we have from wargames, that units all arrayed and under command doing exactly what they are told as organized blocks, mashed continually against enemies and attrited each other as fast as their weapons could fire, is entirely imaginary.
I disagree - that is not the standard picture I have of combat from wargames - well at least not decently designed ones!

My "standard picture" hasn't been that for 25-30 years - instead my picture is of frustration when troops refuse to advance or run away, of blood and guts and screams of the wounded (men and animals), and of hte smell of gunpowder and/or blood mixed with sweat.

But only at "the sharp end" - most of the army simply isn't in combat at any point in time.

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Actually on the wargaming front I have actually played Sid Meiers Gettysburg with a random scenarios and had battles with the dead amounting to a handful for each side. I think it is a tribute to the game, and to the Generals. that realising what can be accomplished by your troops in the time allotted/position to be taken/ makes stupid assaults a nono.

I also fought CM's with very light casualties where the position is such that further attacks are suicidal as the position to be gained is not worth the candle. I am not sure if this is a function of playing on large and huge maps were manouvre allows you to gain local superiority despite having nominally equal forces. It can easily be that the actual fighting revolves around a single point with relatively few troops fight over what they believe will be the game winning flag. Overall losses tend to be small.

For those that play CM on small and medium maps were weapons can be used to cover vast sectors of the field then, unsurprisingly, low casualties and the ability to win areas by movement go out the window.

Finally if you look at CM battles as the tip of the spear jobs then high casualties may be reasonable. But for pities sake do not spread them over what the division did that day.

If there is a big call for more realism to root out the pernicious lie of exciting battle sperhaps we can have a catering Corps module in CMX2 where we can do providing food etc under intermittent fire with mod-on recipes : )

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JasonC, he is over intelligent and needs this forum as a place to show it. His points are correct in many aspects, but as is so often the case, so is many of the points of those that contend against him.

I have only a few things I want to say.

First, if JasonC was to ever have his true war sim game I would never buy it. It might be true to life as far as he thinks combat is really played out, but I am sure it would be a very boring game and a huge waste of time with no enjoyment to be had because of all that important realism.

Second, the small battles and high casualties that many of us play in the cm environment, that are so unrealistic to some of you, is what others of us want. To be at the tip of the battle, where hell is on the loose and death is almost certain.

Does this potray most soldiers experiences, no.

For most that have been placed in that type of situation never lived to tell about it.

But for gaming, it is the place to be, where some of you think it does not exist. Where units get caught in a death struggle. In CM, that is almost every battle. No, that was not the normal in real combat but at times it does exist.

For me, I want to play something in that environment, to see if hero units are born, to see how the tide of battle might be swung by the actions of a single unit or how a mistake might lead to extreme high casualities.

For some, I wish I could Teleport them into the real thing. I would love to hear JasonC comments after he had a chance to live through a real intense firefight, instead of living through one's he has developed in that immense brain of his.

I am sure JasonC will slam me since I have addressed him here, so go ahead, I will not respond or waste my time trying to match your superior knowledge. I just do not understand the reason for you immense efforts to persuade us all to your thinking process, I only know it sure isnt going to help in making for a better, more enjoyable game in the future if you are taken too seriously.

I can see it now,"Did you see me win that game, two hours of arty right on top of him, boy, that was fun, next time he will pay to get them troops dug in better" Why would I want to play CM when I could experience a game like that.

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What Jason most often tries to point out and what people most often try to resist is that CM, for all its realism still falls short of being realistic. This is fine because it makes a playable and enjoyable game. But don't confuse it with a faithful simulation of reality.

I am currently playing a large Op that covers a single day of combat. Half way through I have already taken more causalties than were inflicted during the entire day at Omaha. CM combat is much more concentrated than it actually was.

In CM taking a flank position will not cause the enemy to abandon their entire front, in real life this was most often the objective and result. Commanders will hold worthless ground with the zeal that you see in CM.

Of course this makes it, as I said, an enjoyable, action packed game full of fairly realistic weapons but nothing more. To take it as THE representation of combat at nearly any scale is foolhardy.

War is for the most part rather boring. The vast majority of an army never is under fire and even those at the pointy end spend much more time waiting and preparing than actually doing. The closer you get to simulating reality the worse your game gets.

Jason and I have had many dissagreements but he is correct in his general theme in this argument.

Of course I have no idea what this has to do with "Carrier Design."

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I do not think anyone really disagrees with JC on the downtime and ineffectiveness of soldiers, weapons systems in RL , on average, but it is the extension of this to almost deny any aces , any exceptional happening , as an anomaly to be ignored or scorned again and again and again.

So we have RL incidents to put against his general grumble and it is irksome after so many years. The fact that I am apparently an oddity in that I do not press attacks when I do not think they succeed so I find the CM games not necessarily hugely bloody.

So is the answer that the games lethality is correct but it is the way people play it, and the winner takes all approach, small maps,the inability or unwillingness of some people to retreat, that provides the blood baths.

Not to say that for precisely some of these reasons that bloodbaths did ocur in RL as the CMAK Companion shows several times over. A German tank group attacking British ATG's in a grove may seem incredibly dramatic but the ATG's were not able to run away so fought till the end ---- I would say that that episode happening in CM would seem very natural and true to RL. Yes it is exceptional but that we chose to fight exceptional battles again and again is fine with me.

Perhaps CMX2 will provide some opportunities to tweak the way the game plays? However I undersatnd that within CMAK the global morale in Probes is quite fragile and might already answer the bloodiness complaint - however I know of no one who has played a Probe battle.

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That's a very good point. CM models weapons effectiveness extremely well, the problem is the modeling of the soldiers handling them. This is both the ones on the screen and not, i.e., the player himself.

It is on the fact of it unrealistic to expect a regular infantry squad of any major nation to take 50 per cent casualties and then, 10 minutes later, be willing to step out into the fire of the machine gun that chopped it up. But I don't think that's the real issue.

The real issue is that almost all CM players, me included far more often than I would like to admit, are butchers. We are willing to expend the lives of our virtual soldiers in a way almost no real life commander would even consider; and what's more, we pay almost zero penalty for it. Maybe less forces come back in an op or mega campaign, but that's it.

Do our subordinate units perform worse because we as commanders could (almost) care less about casualties, and the subordinates know it? Shirking and lying about the situation to a murderous commander is normal in war. We never have to deal with it. We can't get relieved by our superiors, and we can't get fragged by our subordinates. It is as if every one of us, once we fire up CM, has the nerve of a Joffre, the will of a Zhukov, and the resiliance to blood of a Dracula.

This I think is the biggest cause for the incredible casualty rates we see in CM. The player suffers no penalties, past tactical ones, for murdering his troops. A person with that approach to company and battalion-level command would last how long in a real war? Answer: Probably a few days, at best.

This is why Jason's arguements irritate some, I think. He is pointing out that the game is replicating combat, albeit in a generally technically accurate fashion (although don't get me started on ZiS-3) , in a nonetheless outrageously sterile environment - if of course a replication of real war is what you're looking for.

War is not war without human impact, and the implications of that combat, even at the very sharpest end of the conflict. Some people don't like to be reminded combat is essentially human conflict, rather than duels of weapons systems.

It is easy for the hobbyist, and indeed the historian, to focus on the weapons as tanks are cool-looking, easy to count, and their behavior is fairly predictable. Soldiers are faceless, their behavior frequently is difficult to understand, and armies by their very nature reduce soldiers to replacable pieces you can stamp out more or less like more ammunition. The only soldiers many want to know about are the Rudels and Wittmans, though in terms of armies people like that are rarer, literally, than individual rifle shots downing aircraft. Many just want to know about the maneuver, the firefights, and the clever engagements, the dramatic battles, and snazzy tactics; while ignoring the reality that most people die in wars due to artillery fire that wasn't really aimed at them.

If the goal is having fun with a tactics replicator in a moral vacuum - and true human morality is exactly what is missing from a simulation which kills virtual humans right and left - then sure the game is an awful lot of fun. Certainly I play too much.

But if the goal is understanding combat, really, then one needs to look elsewhere. Weapons in the final analysis are superficial in war, compared to the will and motivations of the people involved.

What does this have to do with carrier design? Easy. Why pay so much attention to the thickness of carrier decks, and so little to the thing that made thicker carrier decks worth thinking about: What did it take to make small groups aviators willing to place their lives in jeapordy, and indeed to make it the focus of their very existence, just for a small chance to drop a bomb through the deck of a carrier?

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dt - I am not arguing both sides, I am -demonstrating- that most of the participants cannot have engage each other continually, and that the effectiveness they attained with their weapons when they did use them was very low. Ergo, most of the time they did engage, it was at long ranges and poor firing conditions. That is the point. We do not see those facts in most wargames, and they would be improved significantly if we did. Above all, the participants were far more reluctant to risk death at each other's hands than our aggressively handled toy soldiers are.

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dt says his CM fights aren't that bloody. I can believe him as relating a fact, but not as relating what works in CM. CM heavily rewards bloody minded play. It is much more effective in a typical CM game to spend whatever it takes to wreck the enemy force, than to carefully preserve your own while maneuvering for minor advantages and hoping to accumulate them into a meaningful edge.

And this is a matter of the realism of the game system. It rewards things that did not actually work that way in the real deal, and penalizes ways of fighting that were much more effective in reality, than they are in CM.

I was involved in playtesting Terrible Swift Sword as a young man. Originally it had no BCE system - that is "brigade combat effectivenss" for those who haven't played it. The chance of a unit routing when it took casualties depended on the unit size, with a slight benefit if a leader was present. As a result, players repeatedly rallied formations and shoved them into the furnace. Divisions and Corps were combat effective up to 80% casualties or so.

The BCE system added score sheets that checked off casualties to units of the same brigade. Each brigade had a set level of casuatlies beyond which it was "BCEed". BCEed subunits lost 1 morale level individually. In addition, whenever a BCEed unit routed, every other unit in the brigade checked morale (with the -1). This meant a BCEed brigade was quite likely to flee en masse if they took any serious losses again. As a result, units burnt out in much more realistic time scales, and wave and relief tactics became much more important.

The system was still too bloody, and still rewarded hyper-aggressive early play, to run the enemy out of men before others reached the field, and take key terrain while he was weak. BCE was a step in the right direction but not quite a large enough step.

I've run some CM campaigns, in which a unit that lives through a single CM engagement gets to be re-used in subsequent ones. Players rapidly find that losing a platoon of infantry in each fight will lose the war before the afternoon of the first day. When a side has all local advantages the other runs away, or it gets annihilated - the latter can still happen. But even the winner cannot afford the losses produced over time by consistent recklessness and a "hang the cost, give me his head" style of play.

Lose rates are still higher than in reality, but they are dramatically lower than in an equal number of typical stand-alone CM fights.

What I would like to see is a system that properly constrained hyper aggressive play, by making it expensive rather than physically impossible. And that rewards the intelligent search for lopsided advantages, even small ones, because they can and do bring about real effects.

Players who think the only thing interesting about CM is its blood-bath-ee-ness might find that boring, but then again they can play Castle Wolfenstein and get all the blood they like. Players who think the interest of games like CM comes from the paper-scissors-rock relations of tactical combined arms, the head games of move and counter, would have no reason to find any of it boring. Any more than Go is boring or positional chess is boring. There would just be a much higher ratio of thought to causalties.

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I agree with your points Jason.

This preference of mine for big maps with floaty flanks does allow for positions to be gained without the head-on for the flag which can never be anything but bloody.

The thread has made me ponder a little more on the ways to make players and the game more realistic. For kick offs if Battalion and Company leaders units are written off then to my mind the global morale should go off the scale. So to if the platoon leader cops it the unit morale precludes anything other than self defence for the squads until re-officered - or at least significant minutes delay to the platoon.

Troops could drop levels Veteran to Regular etc to simulate the fact that it is probably the fighters of the outfit who are more likely to cop it and those who are left are more conscious of staying alive and therefore cautious. Say by thirds of a platoon.

Whether the percentage of troops left alive to started can be factored in ....

And what is highly amusing are those threads discussing whether retreating off-board is gamey - guaranteed to increase bloodshed if you do not! Funnily enough actually I have only done retreating off comparatively rarely which is probably me worryibg about global morale : (

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Jason, would it be correct to say that war consists of a series of micro-engagements that lead to macro-events?

Or is it your opinion that war in the industrial era is a sort of continuous accident where both sides tries to do as few misstakes as possible, and at the end of the day industrial output, logistics-network and political will etc determines the outcome?

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Originally posted by sgtgoody (esq):

What Jason most often tries to point out and what people most often try to resist is that CM, for all its realism still falls short of being realistic. This is fine because it makes a playable and enjoyable game. But don't confuse it with a faithful simulation of reality.

I am currently playing a large Op that covers a single day of combat. Half way through I have already taken more causalties than were inflicted during the entire day at Omaha. CM combat is much more concentrated than it actually was.

I don't think that CM is too far off. Where the problem lies is with the gamer. CM will give you the casualties but we don't stop or pull back or say that, "WHOA, 20% is unacceptable!"

For us, all CM battles are, "Take the objective at all costs!"

Rob Disney of CSDT did a battle in CMAK where the objective of the scenario was two fold. To get the flag, on map objective, but to not lose more than 10% of your force doing it. It was a wonderful change to the normal attack at all costs scenarios and much closer to a realistic outcome.

Of course the scenario was unbalanced. So are 99% of any combats real soldiers take part in. If it isn't balanced in their favor they fight another day. I have read countless after action reports that talk about 2 or 3 tanks being destroyed and the attack halted. Not 20 or 30 like we do but only 2 or 3. There were not endless supplies of equipment to be doled out to a battalion commander. And every man you lose will not be replaced in the next mission.

My $.02 worth.

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Sorry, it is not just the players, it is the lack of a real morale system above the squad level, the lack of a real confusion system beyond an occasional loss of an HQ.

I just played a Hurtgen scenario, in which I gave the Americans a weakened green battalion to attack a hill in woods held by much less numerous Germans with powerful artillery. The Germans could break the attack, which is fine - when the AI is commanding they should. The German arty stopped them, basically, with a bit of help from two bunkers and snippets of German infantry.

But to halt them required inflicting 60% casualties. These were poorly led weakened greens suffering 105mm and 150mm treebursts. And they would still banzai into the defender's teeth after having lost half the force. It wasn't a matter of them being caught and hurt further while routed - they could have backed off easily, breaking LOS with woods.

This is the same problem games like Terrible Swift Sword had before they developed a BCE system. It is a known design issue for grand tactical step-loss games. Designers expect unit by unit morale to scale to realistic force-wide morale, and it simply doesn't.

The sensitivity of the individual units in my example was fine. But what needs to happen but does not happen is, losses to units of the same platoon or company have to reduce the readiness of the rest of that company to take casualties. Initial rout should be able to effect units near the routers. "!" like sensitivity should spread, the whole side behaving that way beyond about 1/3 losses. Command delays should jump to "pinned" levels. Eventually, renewed losses to a single subunit should send large bodies into panic.

How fast this happens can be a function of unit quality and commanders. But only crack units deserve the insensitivity to progressive overall losses all units have in CM today. There could a sliding scale of effects from the global morale indicator, or better still some of those along with platoon or company level effects.

To be concrete about it -

red morale within 50 meters means all non-HQs in range drop one morale level.

losses to units of same platoon greater than x means all platoon subunits "!" rattled. X a function of (average, when mixed) platoon morale - 1/6 for conscripts, 1/5 for greens, 1/4 for regulars, 1/3 for veterans, 1/2 for crack, elites immune.

losses to units of the same company greater than x means double all subsequent command delays for units of that company and all teams subordinate to HQs from that company.

In addition, all "!" units within the company take a morale hit whenever any further losses occur within the company. (As though 15m from the shot, area fire like). (Note, a fresh platoon may be unrattled - the command delay increase still applies to it).

A side with more than half its platoons "BCEd" in the above manner should have the cease fire button depressed, involuntarily.

The last and the first together can set off large scale routs.

Low quality forces simply would not press home to enourmous losses. They'd come apart first, break it off with a retreat if possible. Sometimes they'd still get cut to pieces, if they can't get away after coming apart, but those would become outliers in open ground under fire, not the typical behavior of every vanilla unit, every afternoon.

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