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Two points.

1. Within a scenario the designer could actually provide the information that would then render the "Godlike" knowledge as real intelligence. This would help the immersion factor : )

2. Map reading skills are underestimated by players. Regrettably not everyone here has been taught them and some would be better than others anyway : ). Given certain types of soil/rock/farming practices I would think any good commander would be able to get a fairly adequate idea of how the land would look simply by map reading.

Of course there would be features not shown on a standard Michelin map - say a big drainage ditch which might alter for better or worse the general plan. But as a CO and by reading from my map and it showing very flat land a drainage ditch should not be a total surprise. Now finding one atop a hill!!! a drainage ditch would be a big surprise.

There is a link in the map thread for Belgian maps and you can see maps, aerial pictures and also contoured maps. You can look at the contour maps 1:50000 envisage a terrain and then see how it looks like from the air - strangely similar!

:)

To simplify here is the gist of Waycools post

Map overlay Belgium ww2 era using Google mapping and British GSGS survey maps.

http://geo.nls.uk/maps/belgium/index.html

A blurb from site:

Belgium - Second World War military mapping - geo-referenced mosaics

These maps were created by the Geographical Section of the General Staff (GSGS) and were used by the Allies during the Second World War. These georeferenced and mosaiced layers were created as part of a project on military aerial imagery held by The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives, based at RCAHMS.

GSGS 4042 (1:250,000) - 1937-42. This series is a revised version of a First World War map. The information gathered from aerial reconnaissance imagery was added to most areas. In the remaining areas, alterations were based on the best available French, Belgian and Dutch maps.

GSGS 4336 (1:100,000) - 1942-43. This series is a revised version of a First World War map. Information was mainly gathered from French 1:80.000 and Belgian 1:40.000 map series. Particular attention was paid, using aerial reconnaissance imagery, to the revision of railways and roads.

GSGS 4040 (1:50,000) - 1943-44. This series was first prepared in 1938-1939. The sheet lines of this series are unlike other 1:50.000 series and have no relationship to any local series either French or Belgian. The sheets which cover Belgium were compiled from local 1:20.000 and 1:40.000 series maps.

GSGS (1:250,000 - 1:50,000) - 1937-42. This is a user friendly visualization and shows all three series as listed above in one application. Every series is visible at a different zoom level.

http://geo.nls.uk/maps/belgium/index.html

Last edited by Waycool : Today at 02:43 AM.

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Hello Pawter,

I think its ok to tell you like to see some other futures to make it feel more realistic. JonS shows the link to the Franko system what will give you a least the feeling you want. But I also have the idea you don’t get the challenge in this game cause you win a lot.

My advice would be join ROW tournament and test your skills. http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=95400&page=2

I am sure you will find the best players in the World here and you will see the game gives you more challenge then you would like ;)

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It seems that I’ve flushed out a few ad hominem trolls et amici for whom anything longer that a tweet is an affront. Most responses argue about the abstract “realism” of what I propose versus their view of what happened re: scouting before the battle started, whether by air or land. I agree entirely with Fetchez la Vache that schwerepunkt is an operational level concept however I was using it as a quick catch-all phrase to represent the overconcentration of force on battlefields of this scale without need to write an essay.

What most responses fail to address is the consequence of this flaw. The test of whether it exists irrespective of it’s cause: ABSURDLY UNREALISTIC OVERCONCENTRATION OF UNITS AT THE POINT OF ATTACK WINS and at this scale of both space and time this doesn’t agree with the historic record. At the start of games I regularly concentrate an entire battalion of troops in 800 square metres. And they advance similarly concentrated. Ditto tanks in platoons operating in mutual support within 20 square metres. And this wins. Competent players, molded by the CMx1 game engine, use this tactic.

I forgot to mention that I gave up on CMSF at the demo stage when first released, so if the CM series has addressed and resolved this issue then my query is at an end.

Another matter largely missed by respondents is scale as regards time, not space. Take a ME for instance where units must rush to position. Or an attack where the attacker lacks time to even scratch out foxholes (2 or 3 feverish hours?)

JonS I think touches on this when he suggests that local terrain FoW would make the first 25% of each game a matter of explorative probes but I don’t agree it would be largely irrelevant thereafter as original dispositions would often need to be radically altered thereafter. Raising the relative value of AC scouting and HTs as battlefield taxis which the current system fails to capture.

PanzerMiller: I too have read descriptions of the defense mounted by Kurt Meyer and others between Caen and Falaise and that they were helped greatly by the intimate knowledge of the French countryside. This is the one reference to published history in this thread I’ve yet read and it serves to confirm me in my opinion. The local knowledge of these prepositioned defenders (inferior in just about every other respect) gave them a competitive advantage over attackers who had to fumble their way forward, “discovering” the landscape. And as regards aerial reconnaissance: has anyone positing it’s effectiveness on this scale seen many such photos? Produced after days, if not more, of analysis? Not hours and minutes leading up to a proposed attack. If you had you’d not seriously argue that they provided metre perfect cartography.

I would contrast what they could provide as 'some knowledge' rather than 'perfect knowledge'. The briefings included in most scenarios are worthless cut and paste from wikipedia or somesuch other web authority giving a gloss on the general situation. Very rarely do they give any idea of the tactical situation reporting that a commander on the ground would require.

Prior ground scouting may give a newly arrived commander intelligence along the lines of “Ok; 250 yards to the front there is a copse of trees dense enough to hide trenches perhaps and to the left at 150 yards running towards it there is a gully that may provide a covered advance route. But beyond the trees we’ve not yet penetrated for the above reason”, not metre perfect elevations, building positions, roads, bridges blown or otherwise etc etc.

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Okay, now I see where you're coming from and I think it's a good point. However your original post was simply not clear, to me at least and I'm certainly not of the tweet-generation (and I think most people are not either). I wish I was. *sigh* :-)

In terms of 'space' I think Combat Mission certainly is simulating the more concentrated aspects of tactical warfare and in that respect may well be 'unrepresentative' of combat as a whole. However I'm not entirely convinced that massing armour close in is an assured way of winning.

The VAAR on Barkmann's Corner showed that simply pushing two platoons down the road got nowhere (okay against the AI at least). Sure a real human player would have realised that the left flank was weak and second push with only 2-3 tanks would have rolled up that side, but I don't think that would be gamey in anyway. I am not very widely read on Normandy armour battles, but a few books I've got do mention a few times that tanks within the same troop were often within 50m of each other, and sometimes following each other nose-to-tail in low light.

Engagement distances are the biggest issue with me. Too often we have tanks trading blows at extremely short distances. I live with that for Normandy, but an Eastern Front game would need work.

Bottom line for me is that 'space' issues are not too much of an issue.

Now 'time is interesting. I think the problems you are referring to are more to do with the inherently omnipotent aggressive nature of armchair computer gamers. In real life combat and maneuvering would have taken much more time since there were real people in the firing line and confusion would have been the order of the day. Playing games such as Combat Mission we, the players, are the most unrealistic aspect of the entire set up in my opinion. All we can do is limit ourselves with such rules as Franko's to make things tougher since I think coding that sort of stuff into the program is very tricky - but it would be nice if it could be done.

What can BFC do? I don't know to be honest. I think they are going to provide an excellent mechanical tool for us to play with and I'm not sure how they can easily add 'realistic' FoW etc on top of this. One simple thing might be to have an option to limit elevation and camera position (does CMSF do this, I can't remember?).

Let's see what CMBN is like when we get our hands on it. Then I think we can have a much better discussion and maybe come up with a new generation of Iron Rules?

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A problem CMSF has with regards to to the maps is that the trenches were part of the terrain, and therefore visible at all times to the attacker - this meant you could have a pretty good idea of where the enemy was likely to be without having to spot any actual troops. CMBN has apparently rectified this by making trenches and foxholes 'placeable' and not part of the underlying terrain mesh, so they will have to be spotted by your troops on the ground in the same way that units are spotted. This is a Very Good Thing.

Of course, with our god view, once one soldier sees a trench we as commander will know it's there irrespective of whether the other units can actually get eyes on it, but the Relative Spotting in CM2 compared to Borg Spotting in CM1 means that now not every single gun on the battlefield will swing in that direction simultaneously.

Oh, and try the latest CMSF demo, it's patched up to a level that make the original release seem like a whole other game. Plus it's free, and will give you an understanding of the new UI and camera controls that CMBN will have. Bargain.

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Fetchez la Vache: OK I concede the point that game commanders are not constrained by the horrors of real life consequences of being overly aggresive. But in my reading I've often been surprised just how aggresive real life commanders often were. Rather than just skulking around trying not attract attention to themselves from on high nor the enmity of their troops for being foolhardily vernturesome.

OK scratch my comment regarding armor grouping, that is harder to sustain.

I do not see how limiting elevation or camera position will answer solve the problem as it will still be possible to roll the camera forward over the entire map and discover it's layout perfectly including checking LOS from ground level of a point miles away behind a mountain or whatever.

As regards technical limitations surely some such calculation is performed by the code already when deciding what enemy units to disclose or not. All I'm arguing for is that for an attacking player all that portion of the map not directly within the LOS of their units (or formerly was) should be blank and the player should have to rely on whatever written briefing & rough drawn sketch maps (this facility lacking) he is given at the start.

From my reading commanders at this level very rarely had more. Often less.

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Fetchez la Vache: OK I concede the point that game commanders are not constrained by the horrors of real life consequences of being overly aggresive. But in my reading I've often been surprised just how aggresive real life commanders often were. Rather than just skulking around trying not attract attention to themselves from on high nor the enmity of their troops for being foolhardily vernturesome.

OK scratch my comment regarding armor grouping, that is harder to sustain.

I do not see how limiting elevation or camera position will answer solve the problem as it will still be possible to roll the camera forward over the entire map and discover it's layout perfectly including checking LOS from ground level of a point miles away behind a mountain or whatever.

As regards technical limitations surely some such calculation is performed by the code already when deciding what enemy units to disclose or not. All I'm arguing for is that for an attacking player all that portion of the map not directly within the LOS of their units (or formerly was) should be blank and the player should have to rely on whatever written briefing & rough drawn sketch maps (this facility lacking) he is given at the start.

From my reading commanders at this level very rarely had more. Often less.

Spotting is very resource intensive. If the map itself has to be spotted this will require even more computations than even high-end PCs can provide.

At some point the designers have to draw line to how "realistic" a game can be while still being fun. For example, why should the spotting of the map be instantaneous? Is it realistic that every units knows the location of every brush and every tree because the clear line of sight to it? Shouldn't the same spotting rules for enemies also apply to trees in that case? This clearly would add a lot of burden without providing extra, but no-one can argue that it is less realistic.

There are more unrealistic things in the game, such as the muzzle blasts of tanks not affecting nearby infantry. The nice thing about CM is that it allows for realistic results using realistic tactics even given all these limitations.

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Hi Pawter,

i was really surprised to read so many agressive and ad hominem posts although the problem you described is well known to every better CMx1-player. It's obvious, that most of them never have played a ladder and never played against very strong opponents.

I fully agree with your observations and i think i have found the answer to the problem you describe.

Maps are essential for operational planning and movement (and artillery). What it means, if an army doesn't have any maps about their own area, but only of the area, they plan to attack (millions of maps of Germany, but no maps of the own land), everyone can study in the first weeks of Barbarossa. But i don't think that fog of war including the map would have such a huge influence on the tactical scale that the extremely heavy tactical concentration of forces in CM would become reduced, because IMO the reason for that problem lies somewhere else:

Most CM-battles tend to be balanced, especially when playing ladder.

That means, you know that the enemy has roughly the same force like you.

Since the appearance of CM, the beginning of CM-ladders and Admiral Keith's(?) fantastic scenario depot, the balance of a scenario has been a quality measure on it's own. And that has been the problem since.

The one who concentrates the forces more than the other in balanced battles, can eat piece after piece from the enemy's force.

Playing unbalanced battles, or even better, battles, you simply don't know, how strong the enemy is, forces you to a much more realistical spreading of the forces. Then you have to hold back mobile reserves, because the enemy could come around from somewhere with big and nasty surprises.

Example:

Ladder game, balanced meeting engagement or a quick battle.

You invest your money in two tank pltns with the best bang for the buck, the map has two victory locations.

Once you have ID'd that your opponent operates his tanks in separated pltns, each one for a VL, you concentrate your two pltns and knock out one ofter the other of his pltns.

But playing a scenario, where you simply don't know if the forces are balanced or not, such an approach is highly suicidal. The enemy could have even a whole tank company AND plenty ATGs waiting for you. You go with your two pltns for a pltn of his tanks and that is only a bait and suddenly you are trapped in a beautiful ATG crossfire. :mad:

Therefore i can only recommend to forget the fetish of balanced scenarios and try unbalanced, unknown ones - and hope, scenario designers will build more scenarios of the type: Expect the unexpected!

How many scenarios of that type do exist? How many do exist, where the intelligence info for one side, or for both sides, is totally wrong? There are endless possibilities and WWII was full of such actions. I really hope that will change.

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mmmh ...more realistic?

how about a house rule (or an extended setting in the menu in the future ) above 'Iron Mode' ...lets call it 'Tungsten ;-) '

after the setup-phase (where the camera is free as usual) when the clock starts ticking down,

the camera always stays fixed to the selected unit in follow mode and over the shoulder height ( "Tab" and "1" and "2") no zooming, gliding, only camera turn and tilt (Left, Right, Up, Down key)

i have to test that...

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Oh God ladder players!

I have always laughed at people who felt ladder play was in anyway justifiable use of the CM engine. People who understand WW2 warfare would play with random casualties, even fitness, etc so that a more realistic game could be had. And of course using huge battlefields so edge hugging would simply take you away from the VP's rather than give an advantage.

Ladder play was for people with egos that needed feeding and who felt chess did not have enough explosions. : )

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mmmh ...more realistic?

how about a house rule (or an extended setting in the menu in the future ) above 'Iron Mode' ...lets call it 'Tungsten ;-) '

after the setup-phase (where the camera is free as usual) when the clock starts ticking down,

the camera always stays fixed to the selected unit in follow mode and over the shoulder height ( "Tab" and "1" and "2") no zooming, gliding, only camera turn and tilt (Left, Right, Up, Down key)

i have to test that...

How about realism level "Canvas" what you do is sit at a desk in a tent and have an Aide-de-camp run in with written notes about what is happening on the computer and your IntO draws a series of pictures on a map on the table?

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Steiner14: I agree with you wholeheratedly that by it’s admirably achieved concern for balanced, mutually playable/enjoyable games CMx1 may only cover a restrictive subset of WWII combat. I had worried over this point and forgotten it years ago as not being amenable to a feasible fix without entirely overhauling not just the victory criteria but QB map layout vis a vis flags & setup zones and also relative prices of varying units and much more I’m sure.

It is I think a powerful explanatory variable for this phenomenon. I would rank it as important as the perfect advance knowledge of the map.

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If it really is such a big deal to the OP, then maybe just try self-limiting yourself to what you can see on the map by sticking to eye-level point of views of your units.

That is the answer to the issue raised by Pawter. Create a "hardcore" mode with Iron mode FOW + level 1 only map viewing.

Not sure how fun it would be.

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Other Means: I looked at FRANKO'S TRUE COMBAT RULES and they appear to address this issue from the perfect map knowledge angle.

The drawback of course being they are only rules dependent on voluntary compliance and in the hurly burly of a game (especially an IP game) I’m sure I could guarantee an inadvertent keystroke which would ruin the entire effect and make the entire complex procedure redundant at one glance of a high level map.

If these rules were introduced to the code I think it may be a lot of coding effort for some gain in realism at the cost of a significant decrease in playability. The game already has instant perfect knowledge of all units status, instant perfect order transmission etc for this reason I suspect.

An on-screen ToE will be a great stand-alone improvement.

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So we are trying to replicate a world where the commander:

- doesn't have a map;

- hasn't been given any aerial reconnaissance photos;

- hasn't spoken to any of the locals;

- hasn't sent out any of his own reconnaissance to tell him what the ground is like beyond what he can actually see, and

- hasn't got a set of binoculars to look for himself.

This is somehow "realistic"?

Game. Set. Match.

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I think some of the ideas tossed around here are either impractical, inapplicable or unplayable. You have to remember that Combat Mission is a game intended to be played the way it is, so trying to redesign the most central aspect of it - the game map - would require the redesigning of most other gameplay aspects. For instance, how would you give movement orders for a unit for a turn without knowing where they'll be going? As a WeGo player you rely on the fact that the map is, mostly, known.

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LukeFF et fils: that you are thoroughly convinced by a straw-man argument I never tried to propound serves only to demonstrate the worth of your 30 second tweet.

What I proposed was that the way that attackers overconcentrate their forces to win is absurdly unreal. A possible cause I proposed was the advanced perfect map knowledge. Steiner14 suggested perfect foreknowledge of the balance of forces.

Sergei: the conceptual fault you highlight in my suggestion is valid as a technical problem (perhaps insurmountable). In the real world I speculate a commander may tell a platoon lieutenant "Go over that hill on the eastern side, keeping within the tree cover then advance towards the village staying within the treeline and stop dead on contact and await further developments making sure to act in concert with other troops as they advance over/around the hill towards the village". Then (in the game) the next turn would reveal what the platoon had seen in it's movement and movement orders would be based on that. A knarly problem.

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Sergei: or how about this? You do not tell the platoon to go over the hill into an unknown landscape until it has been scouted.

It is scouted by a half squad or sniper who IS told to advance over the eastern shoulder of the hill until they make contact or reach a point a few metres beyond what is currently known. In the event that they end their move surrounded by impenetrable forrest through which they cannot see more than 30 odd metres. Repeat. Obviating the technical fault with this idea (and need for major game core rework) you drew attention to?

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If it really is such a big deal to the OP, then maybe just try self-limiting yourself to what you can see on the map by sticking to eye-level point of views of your units.

Or duct tape on the monitor. :-)

Using Iron difficulty levels with Unit Lock (tab) on the lowest visual level is exactly what this references. Try it... It's very hard. :) You'll never know what the map look likes from overhead, if that is your goal. To make it even harder, only lock your view into a single unit. Good luck!

Download the CMSF demo and try it out.

Ken

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Sergei: the conceptual fault you highlight in my suggestion is valid as a technical problem (perhaps insurmountable). In the real world I speculate a commander may tell a platoon lieutenant "Go over that hill on the eastern side, keeping within the tree cover then advance towards the village staying within the treeline and stop dead on contact and await further developments making sure to act in concert with other troops as they advance over/around the hill towards the village". Then (in the game) the next turn would reveal what the platoon had seen in it's movement and movement orders would be based on that. A knarly problem.

I think the notion of being able to see the entire map is a mechanism that goes quite some way to offsetting the stupidity of the computer.

As your subordinate commanders are actually the inbuilt AI you are at a severe disadvantage as compared to reality in that you have dumb automatons for soldiers. A Company commander would never give a subordinate detailed instructions about what they are supposed to do they just give them the objective, in our game tho' you have to play both roles.

Being able to see the entire battlefield allows you to react to the changing situation in a more realistic way. The platoon commander would see the terrain and its features as they walk through it and he would also have a good idea of what the terrain ahead looks like from a map or from the simple fact that you can see terrain far further than you can see people.

A platoon commander does not get to the village and call up the Company commander and say "Well it was a long walk and we saw lots of stuff, there was a field with a cow and then we saw a village near a hill and there was a wall and we found a puppy , can we keep him huh can we ? ...... " No he makes a series of decisions as he goes, as does evey one right down to Private Plodd.

The other thing, do you want to double the length of all your games by preforming a recce phase?

So to have a "terrain update" transmitted in the next turn would not really gain anything for game play or realism

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