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Tactics Tutorials for CMSF

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I wonder if commanders in the real world get as little (or as much??) recon info as we get in CM scenarios. Normally you get some information of total enemy strength in the briefing but very rarely you are given exact recon information. So you know that you are up to a reserve infantry batallion with some old tanks in support but you have no clue about their exact whereabouts.


The guys here can correct me if I am wrong, but it depends on circumstance. However, in a lot of cases I imagine they get significantly more intel than we get in most missions.

Those big FLIR boxes on top of the HUMVEES (the name escapes me now?) are awesome at recon, from what I have read. Before the battle of Fallujah, they examined the edge of town with these things and could see enemy infantry moving on the rooftops and through windows. They also have UAVs and so forth.

This is represented in game by early intel, but scenario designers often don't give you any of it. I assume most missions we just don't have those assets available to us. Early intel is when you start the map and you know where percentage of their forces are (Big red ?'s during the setup phase).

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The guys here can correct me if I am wrong, but it depends on circumstance.

Depends on if you get the assets or not (i.e. if you are the main effort or just a supporting one).

Sometimes its "there's three guys in that building and four more over there".

Sometimes its "there's a suspected Platoon strength security position vicinity GR 12345678".

A lot of that depends on the recon battle, how long the recce assets are given to do their close target recce, etc.

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I had missed the beginning of post page 15 before posting mine.

George Mc Ewan has certainly a scenario that could be used by jnt62006, since they are usually very well done and by that enjoyable. That it is a very good idea Gibsonm had.

For the rest, reading at what you have posted it looks that we have two schools. The one, that we can call the War College School and the other the Gamer College School.

Each one, might complies with what the player is looking for.

On my part, I am more War College and by that I will rather prefer an action close to reality.

That is a normal, since it is closer from my background.

That brings me, to a simulation approach of the game. I don’t care if I win or not (in the scenario needless to say) depending on the briefing being done. What eventually, annoys me is the liberty taken between a briefing which can be very well done and what has to be made, a totally unreal way to comply with it

You feel like a poor subaltern with a higher up telling you to do it, because that’s why you are here for. That attitude is fortunately, more found in history books, pointing out to such a case that it happens in reality.

In my Thunder Run testing, I wanted to reach, after breaking through the bridgehead a tactical objective on high ground from where I could keep an overwatch on all surrounding ( Abel, bridgehead, Cain, hills houses, west yard….) and direct from there, call fire mission. I have reached that objective.

I had however, the road after the Abel bridgehead checked and that permitted the reinforcement to get through with almost no opposition, but the troops remaining there sustained some casualties doing so

I had no intention to get into the West Yard and the houses around the bridgehead.

I just wanted to break through..

Tactically, since the Reds were left alone in just a few pockets, they had a future not well assured and they had missed their objective, which was to deny the bridgehead to the Blue.

Since they fired, the ROE allows returning fire with no restrain. Artillery or bombs would be the best way to get rid of them without getting into a costly MOUT fight.

On my part, I did not stick to the briefing, because of my War College education. Ok I should be fired. I assume that, but I have saved some lifes. Less than I had whished it to be, just because I wanted, by curiosity, to see how the game will react in the time allowed. That is when, you see in a simulation, what you should not have done and why.

Merry Xmas to all of you

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Wow! A lot here to respond to all of the sudden.


But often at Coy level your orders from a CO will be “clear / secure / ... OBJ 1” with a nice big circle on the trace with “OBJ” in the midst of it.

Certainly if you are tasked with “deny penetration” or “clear route AJAX to small arms range” or some other more flexible task then you can certainly come up with a plan that reflects your assessment of the KT and DT.

But in terms of “winning” the Designer has to come up with some arbitrary locations. So in the first example his “OBJ” no doubt matches yours, but in the second type you might in RL be able to clear a route without occupying the exact spots that the Designer though of so whilst you might achieve the mission you’d still lose in terms of not gaining the points the designer thought you’d gain.

The latter missions are focused on the enemy rather than terrain. The designer can throw out terrain victory locations altogether (at least for the attacker). The attacker gains VP by killing enemy units. The defender (whose mission it is to deny certain pieces of terrain to the enemy) still has terrain victory locations. The designer simply has to work out a VP balance that is fair.


@jnt62006: in one part of your first tutorial you announced to talk about how to divide objectives especially built up areas into sectors. Are you still planning to do this?

Apologies, I felt like I demonstrated how and why to do that later in the second tutorial. I can get a little deeper into it here. The sectors I established in the second tutorial were just a planning measure. In real life they would also serve as graphic control measures that would enable my platoon leaders to see exactly which buildings they were responsible for clearing. The size of each sector is dependent on the number and size of the buildings and the expected enemy resistance. For example, a rifle platoon can clear a warehouse in a fraction of the time it would take to clear a multistory office building. In game terms they simply served as a way for me to track my progress through the town and served as cues for establishing conditions for the next platoon to move to the front.

I wonder if commanders in the real world get as little (or as much??) recon info as we get in CM scenarios. Normally you get some information of total enemy strength in the briefing but very rarely you are given exact recon information.

I had this same complaint about most of the CM scenarios I played back in the day as well. At the level CMSF games are played (usually company +/-) there should be very little need for actual on the ground reconnaissance. Unless the unit being represented is a type of unit whose primary mission is reconnaissance (like a US Armored Cavalry Troop). But then I would argue that CMSF very poorly replicates that kind of fight. The spotting and engagement rules mean that as soon as one of your "recon" units spots the enemy they will almost simultaneously be spotted by them and will most likely engage. Kind of ruins the whole recon mission set of "spot and report and live to continue to spot and report."

The level of intel a company commander should expect (unless the situation is very fluid and he has been tasked with regaining contact with the enemy) should be rather high. After all, in most cases we are talking about gathering information about a specific terrain feature or small urban area. The Battalion HQ (not the player) has access to UAVs, scouts, satellite feeds (from higher), and an S2 (Intelligence) shop to correlate and interpret all that data. I mean if you think about it, a BN commander has to have a pretty good idea of whats on that hill or in that town before he gives the mission to one of his companies. How else would he know that a company is the appropriate sized element to assign the mission to?

So there is really no reason why a designer cant be fairly thorough in relaying intel to either player. Because even the defending player will have a network of OPs, screens and forward early warning systems (even if its just a goat herder with a cell phone) who will be relaying info about the attacking force back to him. It doesn't have to detail exact locations of units and it shouldn't be so omniscient that it predicts how the enemy will fight. But an analysis of suspected enemy strength, capabilities and recent activity that might indicate to a commander the enemy's posture is well within the realm of possibility. Look to my Tutorial Number 3 for a method of predicting how an enemy might fight and how to plan using that when absolutely no intel is available.


I was thinking about if I should spend a certain amount of time at the beginning of a scenario to probe for enemy positions and after that complete the planning process described in jnt62006's tutorials (choose avenue of approach, develop and assign tasks and so on; terrain analysis can still be done in advance).

As in my tutorial Number 3 it is always better to come up with an idea of how the enemy will fight BEFORE you begin your planning. You can assume a lot based on terrain, the known composition of your enemy, and what his particular mission might be (defend, attrit, secure, etc). The easiest way to do this is look at the problem from your enemy's boots. How would you defend or accomplish said task if you were in his place with his assets? You can then develop a plan, leaving plenty of room for flexibility and friction. Move forward cautiously to confirm or deny your assumptions. In most cases you will find your opponent is fighting similar to how you would and that your plan will suffice. This is true because the advantages/disadvantages of terrain stays constant. Once you learn to read ground well it will become second nature.

Next time you are on a drive and bored to tears, start paying attention to the terrain. Pretend you are on the only AOA available to you and begin looking for key terrain in the area, likely ambush points, terrain that will mask your movement from key terrain, etc. After awhile it will become much more obvious the advantages some terrain provides over others, as well as how to counter it.

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Like the Falluja AAR. Thanks for posting it.

It also makes me regret (again) that there's no way to put "gates" in compound walls or at least make doors slightly delay entry into (but not out of) a building for one or both sides. Steve mentioned once that he and Charles considered creating such a feature but decided it was too complex.

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OK so I am back home now and I finished the Cain and Abel scenario.

Ended when my time ran out. British Minor Defeat. I had seized Abel with no damage to structures and was in the process of clearing the Hill Houses when time ran out. Up to that point I had lost 1 Warrior, 1 Scimitar, 10 KIA and 8 WIA. Not too bad considering the difficulty (restrictive terrain, ROE, and attempting to take down three company sized objectives in 2 hours).

A couple issues with the scenario...

Cain was still occupied by at least a company of enemy infantry so it was going to be a hard fight as well. I doubt I would have had enough ammo to finish the fight. I had depleted most of my vehicle stores after consolidating and reissuing ammo on Abel.

It turns out the "West Farm" was also a victory location, though the scenario brief didn't really make that clear. Another enemy platoon plus to clean out of there before time ran out. They were incapable of affecting the main road so I acheived my mission of opening the road through there, but at some point they would have to be dealt with. I guess after taking Cain I could send my company back over there and have them clear the area with wrenches and shovels. :)

All of that being said, a challenging, interesting and rewarding fight. It was obviously designed to stress the player with a couple misleads that would lead you into a deadly trap (seizing the west farm followed almost immediately by the T72 counterattack being the most obvious). And I appreciated the challenge.

I know most of you guys have discussed your own success/failures in this scenario but I welcome you to check out my vids and offer any comments.


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Hi jnt62006,

Glad to read your AAR. I had not looked at your planning before doing mine and I was amazed to see that we did about the same thing, that is up to the hill I called B in my clip maps objectives. Your analysis from that point is however, better than mine, since having taken that objective I did only suppress by fire Hills Houses and had no intention to get there. The 2 hours limit running down, I decided to assault the Cain town, thinking that to get near it would result in a surrender of the enemy. Well, they don't know that vocabulary and My tracks in the open were shot to pieces, since I had run down on artillery, mortars and helico ammo . However,I did not care, since I knew that behind my second objective, to take Cain, was a near impossible task with the forces at my disposal. I just wanted to show it clearly and I got the point.

Up to the second objective, I lost a scimitar at the bridge, a warrior along the road and had a challenger immobilized near the bridgehead. Casualties were about the same.

I do agree perfectly with your views that the mission was achieved even if Cain had not been taken.

If someone wants really to win, he will have to get into the editor and change a few things, that the designer had put into. But, for me, it is not necessary to win to have a good time playing it. It is rewarding enough to plan something that is feasible and to see it unfold the way we predicted it will. Against such odds, it is a good result.


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I have also completed mission analysis for a Mech Company Team Defense.

You can find the tutorial here: http://cmsfwarchest.blogspot.com/2011/01/tutorial-50-mech-company-team-in.html

Good read again jnt62006.

I hope watching your video AAR will (at least partly) answer this but I'm going to ask anyway: the engagement area is supposed to be your main kill zone where you open fire on the enemy forces and want to destroy them, right? Now it is very unlikely that all of the enemies will move through a defenders relatively small killzone at the same time.

So when do you actually start to engage? If you wait to long the enemy will be very close to your battle positions or even spot and engage you before you do. If you engage too early (not enough enemies in the killzone yet) you might destroy some enemies but this will also give him time to take another avenue of approach which you might not have covered (<- I guess this is a situation in which a reserve would come in handy).

Of course in this scenario the enemy AOAs you predicted all converge nicely just in front of your defensive position which leaves less options to the opponent to bypass your defenses or flank you. However the questions remain valid I think.

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Thanks for the questions Zwobot, all very good and well thought out.

I was dealing with a couple different issues in my analysis. First of all, Engagement Areas are places where you want to maximize damage to the enemy. It is not the ONLY place you want to damage the enemy. Your units should always feel free to fire at any enemy unit that they spot and is within range. In the video you will see that I killed about half the enemy in my EA and about half elsewhere. The real power of the EA comes into play when you can use terrain and obstacles to funnel your enemy into one. Obstacles are not available in CMSF so its a little more difficult. Most of the enemy in the scenario did use the AOAs that I had predicted however, which made the placement of my battle positions still valid.

As to the relatively short range to my EA. Well that was a product of the scenario. Its really not a good one for realistic application of an anti armor defense. Unfortunately, I dont get to pick the best location out of 10-15 square kilometers to defend from like I would in RL (hopefully). We are stuck with what the designer gives us. And in this situation we are presented with terrain that masks the enemy (apparently) beyond 1000m (the length of the map).

Anti tank defenses are best employed where they can be fought at ranges out to 5km plus. Heres an example:

5K+ : Arty and USAF (A-10s) break up enemy formations and cause vehicles to button up. Enemy has no significant countermeasure except ADA assets and counter battery fires. May fire preparatory arty fires on your defensive line.

4K : ATGM (TOWs) and Hellfires (AH-64) engagement area, tank main guns are still out of effective range. Target enemy tanks, ADA assets and engineer assets, in that order. Preferably, AH-64s can fire from behind your defensive line. Enemy has no countermeasures except arty bombardment (which can actually play hell with ATGM operators) and possibly deploying his own ATGMs (but these are usually easily destroyed or suppressed as they become obvious).

3K+ : Tank maingun and ATGM EA with same priority targets. Enemy tank force should be significantly reduced keeping enemy return fire to a minimum.

1.5K : Tank, ATGM, and 30mm cannon fire EA. IFVs will engage enemy IFVs, tanks will continue their target priorities. Enemy can now engage with all of his vehicles main weapons.

800m : Dismounted and Coax machineguns are now added to the mix. This is where most of your substantial obstacles will be emplaced. This way when the enemy slows and/or dismounts to reduce the obstacles, your machineguns can play hell on his engineers and their assets.

500m : small arms range. If the enemy is still coming at you with a significant armored force its time to "bug out."

All of that is the perfect situation of course. Only in the desert will you be able to find engagement ranges that long. In Europe you are lucky to have a tank maingun shot at max range. But establishing an EA or "Killbox" as the soviets called it, is rather easy in that sort of restricted terrain.

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  • 1 month later...
Just posted a scenario, would be interested in some feedback. US Army CAB takes on Syrian MRB in restrictive terrain.


Also looking for suggestions for next tutorial. Anyone got a problem/issue they would like to see addressed?

How about fighting in a densely wooded area were you cant make use of your support e.g. Bradleys, Abrams. A pure Infantry fight.

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Playing it, right now. After almost two hours out of the four, I am enjoying it a lot. Just a small remark. There are quite a lot of tracks and tanks. Playing R.T and pausing (since it is an obligation to be able to see what’s unfolding on the map) I am quite sure that if I had move a platoon just by designating a pathway for its tracks, I would have been in trouble very quickly. Therefore, I had decided to move each single track editing its pathway while pausing. That way, I can plot their move, resume the game and pause to change, if necessary, a previous order. For artillery and or air assets, it is very difficult to find as usual a good vintage spot for the JTAC and FO. You really have to look closely at the map and register the few spots before starting the game.

Thanks for that scenario JNT….


I have been able with 02:10:00 remaining time to take farm 156, secure the hill overlooking farm 157, then to take the farm and repulse a tank attack coming from the north east on the right of Al Ghania town through the woods and orchards. Moment later another BMP's attack came from Al Ghania school and was destoyed to the last track and men

I have just taken the Al ghania school with 2nd Plt. 1st Plt is still on its departure line on the HW 126 axis, having had to engage and destroy tanks in that forward area. They have been attacked by helicopters and have taken casualties besides losing a track. 3rd plt has moved on the left of the map toward farm 163, outflanking and destroying some hidden tanks on the way. My intent is to have them clear farm 163 and turn right toward Al Gahnia school, with the 1st plt rejoining, while moving along HW 126, the 2nd at the school.

At the moment, I am quite convinced that a counter attack might come on my right flank, from the east on the axis of the farm 157 and Al Ghania school.

The good thing is that there are 6 different A.I plans.

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