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Ok, well I'll give my two penneth: It sounds like very little equipment with which to ward off more than a company of infantry + 5 tanks, but you have the AI's god-awful attacking sense on your side. If possible, I would collect all of my units into a small 'fortress' area around maybe two of the flags, and preferably with one flank covered by the edge of the map. How large the area was would depend on available cover. You have to be invisible to overwatch fire, and so I would say good cover is essential. You want your Schrecks firing from as close as possible to the tanks, preferably from a keyholed position so the tanks can be picked off one by one. Use them like short-ranged guns. Your MGs fire from good cover into open ground. Infantry take on any man that approaches within 200m.

Difficult to add anything else without a specific map to refer to. I'd basically try and seal off a 'Kessel' area and stand my ground within its borders.

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First, the general idea is a "back" or reverse slope defense concentrated in only one sector, with the MGs covering the rest of the field. A single schreck is told off to support the MG remainder of the field, and like them is in an "up" position with views. The rest of the force is dedicated to the main position. The single most important question is where to place this. I can describe what the desired characteristics are, but how to adapt the real map to them is always a judgment call.

You want two successive positions, a forward one and a fall back. The front one has to constitute an LOS blockage in its own right. Each needs to have an area of open ground ahead of it. In the best case, the front one cannot be seen except from open ground positions about 100 meters away - but that is seldom possible. Next best is when there are few covered areas that can see it, all of them relatively close. Anchor one flank on a map edge. If the position refuses its other, interior-map flank, in LOS terms, that again is desirable. The route from the forward position to the fallback needs to be safe from distant enemy LOS, until he has reached the front position - that is one reason you want it to be an LOS block in itself. Ideally the forward position is not on a flag but along a covered route to them - the back position may be on a flag or just ahead of one, either way.

The full platoon plus one schreck goes in this position, with schreck and 2 squads forward, HQ and 1 squad back - the back squad can cover the interior flank. The FO should be *behind* the front position, either already in the fall back or off to a side of it, with views to the forward position. If he can also see any cover that can see the forward position, so much the better, but the essential is merely LOS to the position your own platoon occupies.

One MG goes on the far flank, away from the blocking position, middling far back. The other goes far to the rear and closer to the center. They need to be able to cross their fires over open ground areas, the flank MG inward, the rear MG forward, to cover the half of the map *not* containing the platoon-block. At least the center one should also be able to reach open ground areas to the mapward or inner side of the platoon blockage - preferably both MGs can do so. The detached schreck goes in the area "cut" by the MG firelanes, such that close approach to it by infantry would draw MG fire into open ground. It should be forward, and have views at 100m range or so to avenues toward either MG. The idea is, you want it to be available to bag tanks trying to get full spots on either MG, and to cover much of the center of the map in AT terms. It will probably die after bagging one tank, but that is sufficient. The MG mission is delay and enticing the enemy to find the "seam" leading him to your main position.

In other words, no ranged MG fire may be directed at any attackers headed straight for your main platoon position. Movements elsewhere do draw such delaying fire. Naturally, if the enemy gets within 175 meters of either MG it "shuts up" and hides.

You want to induce the enemy to figure out that the "best", "covered" route into your position without drawing fire, is the only spot on the map you are prepared to receive him. The easy way is always mined, runs the adage. If he comes broad front, everywhere, the force headed for your main position will simply make better time than those headed for the empty patches.

The platoon stays quiet on short arcs until enemy infantry steps into the open about to approach their own cover. Then it cuts loose and destroys the first men to do so. He will likely build up a firing line to suppress them all. If you picked the spot well, his tanks will have difficulty getting LOS without coming within range of a schreck, and you take your shots. In the meantime, as soon as the firefight looks like it will get hot, high tail it back to the fall back position, and call for 75mm FO fire on the front one. When he rushes in to take the place, let the entire module fall on him, no dancing or readjusting or delay. Only hold off with short adjusts if he is too slow.

Rally in the secondary position while the arty falls.

Done correctly, this should leave you in a match up with evened odds, a delayed attacker having rally problems himself, and wondering whether the next batch of trees is as nasty as the last one.

Naturally there is nothing remotely foolproof about it. If he ignores fire avenues and doesn't pick the "best" path you chose to block, and instead sends his entire force in column someplace else, then you will find one MG position shutting up while his whole column walks by it. In that event, you can reposition to the fallback (and its flag), and wait for him. The plan shifts to just firing the FO on his column at the moment of his coming within range of your infantry on the flags, and you hope lots of the clock gets eaten up without any contact to speak of.

But it sets a trap that can work. Remember, the number one advantage of the defense is that he does not know where you are. Outmatch him locally in one and only one spot, and lure him there by seeming ease of progress, early on.

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He who defends everything defends nothing.

If you hold 1 flag, contest another and do some lopsided carnage like killing 2 tanks, you will win if you keep your forces intact.

Jason's advice is sound, though I think the arty will not be enough to cover your troops falling back - not if a tank has LOS and you have a single HQ to rally and the map is rather open. Once you open up, prepare to die in place or win. Smoke might help you to relocate, but I wouldn't use the scarce rounds for that.

Spread your squads into halfsquads. IIRC they will have the LMGs in one half. That one can fire long range if necessary while the assault team conserves ammo. Halfsquads break more easily, but more targets mean less incoming per target and thus less suppression (on average). Works only if there is enough good cover and your HQ can command a wider radius. Forward halfsquads should be in command as they will bear the brunt of incoming.

I'd use the arty on the approach of the enemy. In a place where it does kill. That means treebursts for 75mm. To maximize the effect, consider whether it fires parallel or vertical to the approach route. There is no sense in rounds falling to the left, right, front or rear of the approaching column - you want everything on a target packed into your arty's beaten zone. As the pattern is pre-determined, you need to find a place to match it. If you found those places, you gotta make sure there is a densely packed target. Have the MGs in LOS towards the exit from that cover. MGs pin forward elements. Most crawl back into cover. FO targets. Main body catches up. Rounds land on AI traffic jam.



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Does anyone know the probability of inflicting casualties on un-buttoned AFV,s? If it was quite high for a HMG then would'nt one tactic be to KO as many T-70 commanders, rendering the vehicles useless. I take it all tactics discussed so far are versus the AI, as Jason's luring tactic could be countered by a strong screening force. The trouble as ever is the spotting in CM, out numbered units can rarely use hit and run as the more weapons/shooters you face the greater the chance of the ambusher being pinned then slaughtered. This makes the worthless T-70, lethal, as a mobile quick reaction gun platform.

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Change of force mix, hmm how about a pair of Tigers!! Seriously, if a platoon was facing such odds with little AT capability the sensible tactic would be either be

Ascertain enemies strength, direction of advance and possible parent unit, retreat and report to HQ

Ambush lead elements, capture soldiers for interogation then retreat through covered, pre-planned routes. In CM, forces who have been attacked react far too quickly, in reality when the enemy assault your positions the only thing they should find is the still hot casings from your MG's. This is especially true of the radio deficient forces in Russia, the 251 was a very useful machine because normally each had a radio, in CM they are deathtraps! In the real world artillery is far more effective at pinning soldiers, crudely it scares the sh*t out of them and in dry conditons kicks up enough dust to conceal retreating troops. German SFMG's could be transported very quickly for short periods, the British made a note of this in their evaluation of the Germans, during the war.

Read your troops extracts about brave Spartans (very, triumph of the will/Untermensch) remove the capacity for fear and fight to the death.

Sorry, could mention lots more including German small unit tactics but my dinner is now infront of me and my wifes look could KO a german Super cat from 1000m!

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Optimal range to open with squads vs. squads is under 100 yards, whites of their eyes stuff. Concealment is your friend, and you need to seriously hurt them before they can call up their friends and their full overwatch. A few MGs can harass at longer range, to be sure.

On changing the force mix, the 75mm FO isn't very useful in a fight like this, and 2 schrecks is an overinvestment in short range AT, given the tiny point budget. In pure CM gamey terms, it is better to spend something on on-map guns. Which type depends on how much you know about the enemy armor threat beforehand - it is a head fake paper scissor thing without prior info.

The ideal type is one that just overmatches the enemy armor. A safe-ish bet might be a lone "French 75" medium PAK and a schreck, a riskier one would be a 50mm PAK and 2 75mm infantry guns.

Is that quite realistic? No not really. They'd be much more likely to have 81mm mortar support, but then 81mm mortars in real life can hit almost as hard as 105s hit in CM, particularly against attackers moving above ground. (In real life, the cover difference between upright, prone but above ground, and below ground level is huge, each tier being up to 5 times more dangerous under artillery fire of any kind, than the next).

In real life, they might have one 50mm PAK or they might have nothing but schrecks and fausts. The other side of that is in real life, fausts can be used by single men who can be anywhere, without requiring 9 other men tagging along drawing fire with them etc. The concentration of infantry into units downplays the risk from short ranged infantry AT and makes ranged run AT more critical.

As for more realistic real world screens, they'd use more of an outpost line, a squad's worth of men doing it, one MG nest with 3-4 men and the rest in 2s with rifles and SMGs. You'd have a couple of riflemen considerably more accurate than CM sharpshooters with wide fields of fire, hard to locate, etc, supplementing the HMGs for ranged fire.

It would be considerably easier to relocate the MGs than in CM, and LMGs and HMGs would each be capable of similar surge firepower whenever needed, just burning the ammo. The LMGs would have to displace after a bit of it and get ammo elsewhere, but there would be more of that going on.

Mortars would drop shells in modest numbers here and there that would make men hit the deck over wide areas. Along with not knowing where the more accurate snipers were and the MGs terrorizing people for 10-15 seconds then relocating, the attackers would find it considerably slower going, and their confusion level and uncertainty about the defender's locations would be much higher. I mean, in real life you don't spot 10 men at a time and know they are all within 2 meters of each other.

It is the abstraction of units that turns down the fog of war compared to reality, and that in turn rewards concentration rather than dispersal of the defense. In real life tactics, you can count more on being amorphous, on the attacker not knowing where to "bite". Overwatch still works locally, to be sure. That just makes relocation much more important, to "regain concealment" in Squad Leader speak. Since each man does this independently, it is much harder for the attacker to locate all the defenders once and for all and never lose them again.

Fair question. But short of playing "sniper" with individual man counters, you aren't going to get the total confusion level that actually obtains in a firefight this size. In a squad level wargame, you have to abstract that into things like uncertain morale states, command delays, fire mostly effecting suppression level, etc.

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Interesting. All this and no mention of time required/allowed. Or of weather.

There seems to be an assumption on good weather - fair enough. However time has always been the most important part of the attack/defence equation and the number of turns crucial to whether the battle works. Terrain is probably the second most important ignored variable.

If anyone is curious about how important terrain can be I am quite happy to sit a large ubercat on the end of the sole bridge in a narrow map bisected by an unfordable river and defeat any number of infantry : ) Of course I would wish for a time limit slightly shorter than my expected ammo firing time.

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If you could adjust the force mix for the mission, what would you change?

get rid of the schrecks and the FO. instead get inf guns. perhaps replace the other HMG with a Flak.

How much of the strategy (since it appears you all pretty well agree on essentials) would have been optimal in WW2 versus in Combat Mission? What changes would have to be made if any?

in WW2 i would let go of the other schreck and HMG and instead "buy" trenches.

Does the strategy accomplish the screening mission?

report the enemy force and wait for reinforcements. empty the FO on the enemy. fire the HMGs. perhaps ambush a T-70 with the schreck if necessary. if enemy threatens to overcome your positions before reinforcements arrive then fall back to secondary positions and then join the counterattack with the reinforcements.

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It is terrain dependent, and attacker formation dependent, and combined arms match up dependent.

Ideally, you want as many attackers as possible in the open and 20m or more from cover at the time of the first trigger pull.

If there is only a single half squad walking well ahead, you want to pin it with a ranged weapon, not spring the main ambush.

If you are in foxholes in brush with long LOS lines ahead (not reverse sloped), you can't wait for 60 meters, they will see the foxholes and have an order opportunity before you ever fire. In stone buildings, no problem.

If they are Russians and you have MG42s, you don't want the firefight to happen at 75 meter PPsH range, you want it at 125m good MG range.

There isn't one cookie cutter range. Also, you can have arcs set, but you have to lift them when you do decide to fire --- you don't want all enemies just beyond some triggering range to be safe as houses *during* the actual ambush.


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Ah, but you do! Just hover over the T-70 hit, during the replay, and you can hear the commander scream that he has "been hit", information an opponent would rarely have. Unless the commander was slumped halfway down the turret, or the squad was close range and saw the rounds impact, the guessing game would begin. "Did we get him? Yeah I got him! I'm not sure he could just be grazed" etc etc.

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. . . information an opponent would rarely have . . .

One may see tank commanders standing with their upper bodies (from the waist up) out of the hatch while driving along a road in newsreel footage, but in combat a tank commander (at least a smart or experienced one) would have just enough of his head exposed to use binoculars and to otherwise have a clear view of the terrain, the better to spot targets and such. Thus, if a tank commander gets hit (presumably in the head*), he will just drop into the turret, so the giveaway would not likely be a histrionic convulsion of the torso (along with a cry of "they got me!" =P) but rather simply the remaining open of the hatch.

Would it be a good idea to have a point team deployed a little forward (but within the same block of cover I assume?) of the main ambush, to whack the enemy single half squad point?

I see greater value, not in wiping out any point unit, but rather in using fire from a flank to mislead the enemy about the location of the actual defensive positions.

Rather than setting up HMGs facing forward (i.e., in the direction the enemy will presumably be coming from), try facing them up obliquely toward each other -- thus their fields of fire overlap and each will be able to fire on multiple targets in succession without having to rotate any more than a relatively few degrees (as opposed to firing at a unit on the left flank, then rotating 45 degrees to target a unit directly ahead, etc.).

*I read somewhere that in a lull in combat Otto Carius (I believe it was him) had just ducked down to light a cigarette(!) when a shell (he figured it was a 122mm) blew away the entire cupola; so his indiscretion actually saved him from getting decapitated! @.@

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The Carius story remind me of the gunner story, guy ducks down for something, during a daylight raid, resumes position and wonders why the turret is so drafty. After a while he notices the line of holes stitched across the plexiglass!! IDF tank commanders were instructed to stand up in their turrets to aid in target aquisition and situational awareness, result larger than average percentage of IDF TC's dead or seriously injured. I believe Ellis' "The Sharp End" quotes a figure of 90% fatalities due to head injuries for TC's.

Talking of TC's I watched a programme about the HJ which had an account by a German, they were stalking a Sherman and sniped the commander who had fallen back into the turret. Emboldened, the school age soldiers closed for the kill with a panzerfaust, as they closed in for the kill the hatch flew open and the tank commander fired an SMG (Thompson I believe, as the German remembered it caused ghastly wounds). End result 4 dead 2 seriously injured because they were unaware of the real situation.

As for MG's, surely they are shortchanged by being unable to create a beaten zone, two MG's at opposite ends of a defensive position, facing into and covering each other create a lethal screen that is impossible to reproduce in CM, Its why linear formations suffer so badly when ambushed by flanking MG's as their formation is similar to the oval beaten zone.

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A lot of effort during WW2 went into designing decent cupolas and hatches because of the dangers of being either shot, or blind in the tank. Carius mentions that particular point in "Tigers in the Mud".

Regarding flanking fire. I am a great fan of it however in a lot of maps the ability to get a flanking firing position is difficult because the maps are not big enough. I did have an exception last year where a river running across the map meant the defence could use flank fire to cover the meandering river's fords and bridges. It is joyous that pillboxes/bunkers could actually present their flanks to the enemy armour and be reasonably safe from being taken out in minutes by dozens of shots through the firing slit at range.

Similarly if one had enough mines and barbed wire to make like a river you could do it in-game but you rarely have enough points for map size.

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One only has to look at the TUSK kits for the M1's and the armoured turrets for the Humvees to see this is still the achilles heel for any armoured vehicle. Does anyone know the probability of a TC getting KO'd in CM? Sharpshooters seem to be quite reliable, but I've had HMG's target tanks at 4-500m and the commanders remain unbuttoned.

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I assume that commanders duck in and out between bursts of fire from MG's. : ) Perhaps two MGs are required!

I have had a crew from a MkIV bail as I was shooting it up the backside with a US halftrack. I can only assume that they decided it was tank mounted MG and they were about to go bang. It was in the scenario Chaulnes where there are lots of tanks so it is possible they could see enemy tanks, or knew of enemy tanks in front of them so rotating the turret was not really going to solve their problem - of extending their life expectancy.

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