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Walls, Windows and other assorted MOUT problems


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Hi Guys

Recently in my Al Huqf PBEM, I noticed a few things for the first time. I wondered what Battlefront's stance on this was.

1) Al Huqf is a small village surrounded by a "high" wall - it seems to be about 2.5 meters, a bit higher than your standing units. This wall really limits tactical flexibility, as each side only has one entrance into the village.

2) Logically following, I decided to blow a hole into the wall at a more opportunate entrance that would allow me to flank my enemy. My Syrians suck bad enough without going frontal assault. So I order my BMP to area-target and break down part of the wall.

3) Problem is: The enemy player can see this. Immediatly. Now, this is plain 100% wrong. If none of his units has LOS to that part of the wall (it was hidden behind a house in a corner) he should hear a loud bang, maybe wants to investigate that, but no way I hell can he known which wall I just knocked over.

4) More to the point: Why do I actually have to blow a hole in the wall? A 2.5 meter wall, as thought even here in Infantry basic training, can be easily scaled by basic trained troops. You need two buddies to lift up the first bunch of guys, then pull the other ones over. Even Syrian units and irregulars should be clever enough to get over a 2.5m wall without using explosives.

5) And why can't I use windows for entrance and exit into buildings? If the US side has some Strykers sitting outside on the street (who haven't spotted me yet), no one in his right mind will go out the front door. Leaving to the back trough a window is sensible and doable. Entering an unoccupied building trough a window is just as easy, and an occupied one - will require more work, but can also be done.

I find it kind of cynical that Steve or Moon (I think it was Steve...) suggests to not play Syria vs. US in the open, only in MOUT where the US Advantages are negated - just to find out that movement in MOUT is also heavily restricted, and while the US can happily bring up their superior firepower on the street, the Syrian uncons and regular army (with far less vehicles available) lose the advantage of being stealthy and moving around more freely.

I'm really trying to like this game, but neither in open ground nor MOUT has it yet really impressed me. Can these MOUT shortcomings be fixed?

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I think you really should skip that scenario and play another. ;)

But seriously,

I'd say that's the limitations of having generic representations of objects.

The good thing is that you can simulate tactical challenges in a great variety, but on the downside you sacrifice detail.

Walls, buildings, &c in the game can be used to represent all sorts of walls, buildings &c in RL.

They are not really meant to look pretty but to serve a tactical purpose - limit access or LOS, provide cover and such.

And since they are not meant to represent a specific type of wall or building in RL, this makes up for a greater flexibility without making things too complicated.

Right now, for example a scen designer who wants to recreate a massive concrete wall of 3.5m height and barb wire in RL would use a generic concrete wall of 2.5m and without the barb wire in the game.

The wall in RL would seriously restrict movement in RL - and that's what the designer ultimately wants to project into the game. However since there are only 2 types of high walls in the game (with about the same characteristics) some level of abstraction is needed to enable him to recreate a similar tactical situation. If he wants a wall which can be crossed by infantry he would use a small wall for this.

It just doesn't seem practical to include all kinds of walls or windows which one could encounter in RL, just to make a situation look closer to the real thing, when, in the end, the same effect can be achieved with a generic object.

Also, on the downside, the more detailed the environment gets, the more complicated gets micromanaging. Players need to check out closely, whether a wall is of the climbable type or not (and whether a specific squad can climb the wall in question or not). Or if the windows in a building are perhaps too small to climb though by a specific unit, or if there are bars to prevent that. That's nice on a small scale, but imagine a larger engagement in RT where you have to babysit each squad, because of that.

Personally, I would like to see a little more diversity in walls (climbable walls or walls which vehicles can break through) or buildings (the old "oil tank" and "minarett" issue :D), but we'll have to see if any of this will be added to CMSF or to another CM game in the future.

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I'm reworking the Red Unit list in that scenario right now ;)

Good point about the restrictions on "Wall types". But then that just means there are not enough types :D

For example, a "low wall" can be crossed by infantry, but also provides LOS for standing units. The 2.5m wall used here blocks LOS just fine at any height, yet could still be scaled by some basic-trained infantry.

The problem is indeed that detailed 1:1 representation of the game world means people expect the objects in game to behave like their real world counterparts. The frustration arises when you design your strategy for the battle by your visual inspection of the map (really the only way we can decide our tactics is by visual cues), and then find out that you can't do stuff you "should be able to do" because some visuals do not match the game mechnics.

As far as I'm aware, MOUT is about the most flexible, unconventional warfare you'll find as far as movement is concerned. You'll have people crawling out of small windows, kicking in weak mud walls, blowing up stone walls, climbing over fences, using small ladders or blanks to get from one roof to the next. And the less vehicles and fire support you have, the more important is your infantry's ability to move around town any way you like.

BFC picked a game setting where the only scenario both sides are about evenly matched is MOUT. They will thus sadly have to live with demands for ultimate realistic MOUT - which means the visuals on the screen must match and be able to result in realistic urban combat tactics.

But at the core of it, I'd already be damn happy if there was a (may well be abstracted) way to breach a wall or fence without the opponent instantly knowing what I want to do to him. The US troops can afford to be loud since firepower and observation technology is on their side, but for the Syrians this is yet another handicap.

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Not very satisfying answer, is it... I know that the Austrian Army regularly trains stuff like how to scale walls and how to get into houses trough windows. And we are a sucky Army with little to show in skills or combat experience.

Okay, with a 200 pound ruck, additional weapons and gear some windows might be too small, but for an Uncon fighter with an AK-47, three clips of ammo and only his cloths to wear, I can not see him walking out the front or back door into fire-covered streets if he can get out of the window and into the neighbours house the same way. Kicking out a few boards or shards of glass isn't that hard either.

This for example would be one advantage that untrained and underarmed fighters have over conventional forces - what they "might not do" doesn't apply to them. Besides, I'm sure we all know that a lot gets done in combat that isn't supposed to be done that way. Asymmetric MOUT is the most unpredictable form of Infantry combat available- why can't we guys playing Red not enjoy a bit of leeway in how we do our thing?

So that means by BFCs own voice, the only way to get this tactical freedom is blowing holes into walls. Which somehow magically the enemy human player will see from three miles away. Just great.

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I think the point which Steve tried to make was that if a scenario designer intended a player to be able to pass through a wall, he would put a door in it. The whole point of discerning between doors and windows is to allow or restrict access - in contrast to CMx1 where access was possible from all sides with no chance to restrict it.

But it sure would make things interesting if there was an additional wall option passable by certain troops only - more options more challenges. :)

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But a building with 4 doors, one in each wall, would look quite stupid ;)

I think what's needed is a way to move around and trough buildings/walls in a somewhat silent, covered mode. This could include creating holes in walls with other means than explosives (battering ram, hammer...)

The only chance you have with asymmetric tactics and troops is to stay off the streets, avoid being seen and avoid being fired at by anything heavy or concentrated. And I have no doubt that some Iraqi insurgent will use every opening or way over an obstacle he can find. It's IMHO contraproductive to insist that these weak forces have the same movement restrictions as the US Troops they are fighting. It is also IMHO dependent on troop size - a two man AT team or sniper team can certainly move around more flexible than a 9 man squad.

Whatever the final verdict on windows is, there is just no way that the enemy should know when a wall has been broken halfway across the map.

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The only chance you have with asymmetric tactics and troops is to stay off the streets

What's the first rule of street fighting? Creating an entry point where there was originally none is a time-honored tradition in urban combat. It seems to me that the only problem here is that blue (or red, I imagine) has instant knowledge of the wall coming down, which is clearly not WAD. The rest - just saying "deal" seems harsh, but, well, deal.

Edit, to expand and not sound like such a jerk: Moving through windows is one of those things that seems like it should be there, but would lead to such a drastic increase in the complexity of the sim that it's not really feasible. If you can go through windows, why not go up a ladder to the roof, or why not rappel down from the roof? These are things the ASL guys were fighting over, but the law of diminishing returns comes in very quickly with this level of fidelity. An Uncon unit has a supreme stealth advantage - blue won't know you're there until YOU decide to make your presence known. Set up your cover arcs etc for maximum instant effect, which can be drastic, and understand that "Force Preservation" will not be a high priority for your higher command.

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The campaign I'm working on had to deal with the lack of gates in walls. I simply put in the readme that a wall completely around a place with a short infantry scalable wall section on one side meant that was a gate. It slows the infantry down and causes them to clump up, just like a gate. Not a perfect solution by far but the best I had.

I also agree that as the game is 1:1 mostly WYSIWYG, people expect it all to be WYSIWYG.

-Jenrick

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I also agree that as the game is 1:1 mostly WYSIWYG, people expect it all to be WYSIWYG.

-Jenrick

Even when each soldier has its own 3D model and whatnot, CMx2 has still plenty of abstractions that too often, too fast are labeled as bugs or incomplete features.

Of Exactitude in Science

...In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography.

Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. English translation quoted from J. L. Borges, A Universal History of Infamy, Penguin Books, London, 1975.

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Even when each soldier has its own 3D model and whatnot, CMx2 has still plenty of abstractions that too often, too fast are labeled as bugs or incomplete features.

The problem is that the player can not know which parts are 1:1 exactly, and which are abstracted. The soldiers I see, standing, prone, running - are 1:1. The wall next to them, of a certain size and type, is supposed to be something else? That's just not handy for any player to figure out, and this is where the labeling of "bugs" comes from.

And I don't think we need to argue that being instantly aware of a wall breach a mile away from your units is either case not realistic.

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The problem is that the player can not know which parts are 1:1 exactly, and which are abstracted.

I totally agree with you. I wasn't being confrontational, BTW. Indeed, I share some of your frustrations.

The soldiers I see, standing, prone, running - are 1:1. The wall next to them, of a certain size and type, is supposed to be something else? That's just not handy for any player to figure out, and this is where the labeling of "bugs" comes from.

Agree again. "not handy for any player to figure out" is spot on. Unfortunately, we are left to "figure out" a lot of things. There is a half a year old issue about AI facing at scenario start that we don't even know if it is a feature or a bug. That's one I remember well, but anybody else can chime in with their favorite one. Good luck with the ones you point here. :)

And I don't think we need to argue that being instantly aware of a wall breach a mile away from your units is either case not realistic.

Well, if you are playing blue and blue opened the breach, neither is realistic to be instantly aware of the breach one mile away. But again, I see your point.

P/S: Are you the same RSColonel131st who moderated the Strike Fighter's forum back at SimHQ a long time ago?

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Unfortunately there are compromises for any game. If you think about it the fact that you have a perfect view of the map at all is quite unrealistic. You can recon the entire map without ever putting a single boot on the ground. Real commanders would kill to be able to do that.

There are discussions about many of the things mentioned here but it often seems that things that should be simple never are. Hardware limitations, programing code, and unforseen effects all conspire to send seemingly easy changes straight into the toilet.

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SgtTeddybear - ermm Muhammed, you're of course right. But for me I'm still looking for the sweet spot in CMSF and haven't found it yet.

If you go open terrain, Blue vs. Red, you have a bunch of disadvantages and problems for the Red units (like the lack of quickly prepared overhead trench cover, TRPs and better dug-out positions, the easy visibility of the fortifications avalable etc.).

If you go MOUT with UNCON fighters on your team, you have another bunch of disadvantages to face.

While the game mechanics are the same for both Blue and Red, Blue just never seems to really suffer that much. They can do everthing with Firepower from their Strykers, superior equipment (Javelin, NVGs, Body Armor...) and flexible force structure. The Red side has a few things they could in reality certainly do (dig/hide foxholes, scale walls, crawl trough windows, sneak around town...), but can't in game.

The more I play Red, the more I discover that they have zero of their real life advantages vs. blue, which also makes playing blue a tad boring. When the Euro module comes out, all me and my friend in PBEM are gonna play is German vs. US meeting engagements... and that is frustrating, as I expected a tad more out of this game.

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If you go MOUT with UNCON fighters on your team, you have another bunch of disadvantages to face.

FWIW, in real life firefights UNCONS usually get killed in droves.

While the game mechanics are the same for both Blue and Red, Blue just never seems to really suffer that much. They can do everthing with Firepower from their Strykers, superior equipment (Javelin, NVGs, Body Armor...) and flexible force structure. The Red side has a few things they could in reality certainly do (dig/hide foxholes, scale walls, crawl trough windows, sneak around town...), but can't in game.

IMHO, as somebody said before the best way of playing red is with an ambush mentality. All blue's advantages are negated when they have very little to target and forced to split forces.

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Ambush Mentality for Red only works when you are playing as Defenders. As soon as you go meeting engagement or - gasp! attack - you can't ambush anymore.

But even then, the defenders can't reinforce (fortify) buildings, can't dig man-covers or foxholes with top cover, trenches and bunkers are always visible, and if you have to retreat from an ambush position inside a house, you better have a door at the back side facing away from the enemy because you can't leave from a window.

Red suffers much more from various game abstractions than Blue does, since Fire and Manouver work very well with the current game system - Fire especially, as it's now detailed LOS/LOF and 1:1 representation of every Squad weapon. All the restrictions you can find pretty much inhibit defensive red play.

Of course you can have scenarios like ATGM Ambush where you can set two recoiless rifles and two AT-4 up in plain view of three enemy Bradleys, which means Blue dies and Red wins. But then the Blue player has no chance either due to Scenario design.

I'm really looking forward to CMx2 WW2. I want a game with both sides able to win a fair and balanced meeting engagment, suffering the same problems with the game engine. Not like now, where one side is massivley disadvantages by their equipment and training, then gets some added disadvantages for game mechanics on top.

Another example for bad MOUT btw... - no friendly fire under a certain calibre means you can area-fire and supress a whole building shooting it up while at the same time your squads can enter unhurt. Another problem for defensive syrians, no problems for the US with their massive firepower on their Strykers.

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Another example for bad MOUT btw... - no friendly fire under a certain calibre means you can area-fire and supress a whole building shooting it up while at the same time your squads can enter unhurt. Another problem for defensive syrians, no problems for the US with their massive firepower on their Strykers.

I agree on this one (as well as hidden trenches/god-like knowledge of walls): moving UNDER covering fire should be different from moving INTO covering fire :) I get around this by not doing it when playing Blue, but H2H you might have to have a gentleman's agreement to play by RL rules and not game rules.

Foxholes will have to be in WW2, there's probably just a lot of under-the-hood issues that need to be ironed out. But hey, once they're in WW2 they'll be in SF2!

Visible trenches/walls seems to come from the fact that these are both "Terrain" according to the game, and both sides have knowledge of the terrain going in. It's not like CMx1 where trenches were a unit that needed to be spotted. If that's the problem here it might be difficult to fix. Can both sides see when a building is destroyed out of LOS?

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Well until they get rid of action spots the lack of friendly fire is really the only option. It's not too hard in reality to tell your SAW gunner and the rest of his fire team to put their rounds into "THAT" window to keep that UNCON sniper down while the rest of the squad goes in through the side door to grenade him out.

At the moment though you can really only put fire on a whole floor's as the fire is geared to the action spot.

-Jenrick

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Ambush Mentality for Red only works when you are playing as Defenders. As soon as you go meeting engagement or - gasp! attack - you can't ambush anymore.

But even then, the defenders can't reinforce (fortify) buildings, can't dig man-covers or foxholes with top cover, trenches and bunkers are always visible, and if you have to retreat from an ambush position inside a house, you better have a door at the back side facing away from the enemy because you can't leave from a window.

Red suffers much more from various game abstractions than Blue does, since Fire and Manouver work very well with the current game system - Fire especially, as it's now detailed LOS/LOF and 1:1 representation of every Squad weapon. All the restrictions you can find pretty much inhibit defensive red play.

Of course you can have scenarios like ATGM Ambush where you can set two recoiless rifles and two AT-4 up in plain view of three enemy Bradleys, which means Blue dies and Red wins. But then the Blue player has no chance either due to Scenario design.

I'm really looking forward to CMx2 WW2. I want a game with both sides able to win a fair and balanced meeting engagment, suffering the same problems with the game engine. Not like now, where one side is massivley disadvantages by their equipment and training, then gets some added disadvantages for game mechanics on top.

Another example for bad MOUT btw... - no friendly fire under a certain calibre means you can area-fire and supress a whole building shooting it up while at the same time your squads can enter unhurt. Another problem for defensive syrians, no problems for the US with their massive firepower on their Strykers.

I wish this post wasn't as excellent as it is.

I could live with CMx1 vehicles firing always to be displayed to the opponent, even with none of his units in sight. I thought things were bad when sandbags in CMAK were terrain features not subject to FoW, likewise dust clouds. Trenches in CM:SF treated that way annoyed me, but whatever, they've been spotted by a UAV before the battle. Fine. The problem described here? Really mumble.

But all these FoW pessimations in Normandy? No &@*((@ way.

The Germans were particularly good (forced to be) in camouflage. The game will turn into a joke with no FoW on fortifications and/or no placeable fortifications.

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It's not too hard in reality to tell your SAW gunner and the rest of his fire team to put their rounds into "THAT" window to keep that UNCON sniper down while the rest of the squad goes in through the side door to grenade him out.

-Jenrick

I agree completely with the above - I see how they have it now (with no friendly fire from small-cal weapons) working very well. I think it makes much sense...

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