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Advancing in open ground...


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To be as brief as possible... CM:BN is my first purchase of the series, so I'm quite new, thus my question.

And that is: When advancing over open ground (say 200-400+ meters) without ANY cover, with a company size force, what is a good method?

I don't want to give out the campaing I'm playing but it should probably be pretty obvious.

Anywho, my first try has been so-so. I've lost about 1 man a minute and have advanced 200- 250 meters. 10 minutes in so far, 10 guys down.

To be specific, I originally parted off scout teams from my platoons with target arcs no-more than 150 meters (I figured if they shot much further than that, it would be wasted ammo and with the supply levels, it can't be wasted) and ordered them to 'slow' ahead. Moved the HQ's and all support squads to the "best" ground (highest) to spot with covered arcs. MG squads and artillery I had to 'hide' along with all other units and remaining platoons.

After first round or minute, one enemy spotted. Ordered remaining platoons and squads to move forward with crawl. Continued this until they were exhausted, rested everyone a minute. Then 'quick' movement order were given to scout teams (they were closest to cover about 100 meters out or so) to the best available cover. Remaining units again crawled, with the exception of MG teams and mortar teams and their corresponding HQ. (I deployed motars after first minute by the way in case their fire was needed or other enemy units were unveiled). I wanted to keep them still in case of any urgent need to provide suppression fire if the advance seem to faulter.

Fast forward. Scouting teams once 'quicked' came under heavy MG fire approximately 400-450 meter out. One guy was hit out of 8. (4 scout teams). I then 'quicked' the remaining rifle platoons (after their rest, on hide with covered arcs) and their HQ's and support units also advanced 'quick' after a pause of 15 seconds (so they hopefully wouldn't be the targets of choice), to the sparse cover and "reconvene area". I lost 3 guys out of 3/4 of a company. This was 5-6 minutes into the first battle of the campaign and then what seemed to be enemy 'harass' artillery hit my weapnons platoon with one mortar squad loosing 3 guys out of 5.

I'm unsure tactically where I'm going wrong. I know I'm not unleashing any return fire or supressing fire but when I'm 500- 600 meters out, I feel like it's a pissing match between MG teams and total luck in supressing them, especially when their MG's are heavily covered and somewhat entrenched. I also have to conserve ammo. Mortars are being 'shared' in my AO, so I don't want to waste it. My opprotunity costs here are perplexing.

I'm one to 'hold your ace card' until you KNOW you need to use it and the mortars seem to be that ace card in this game. I'm sure in this campaign more pressing situations will exist, thus my reluctance for a pre-barage on 1st turn or even one 3-4 minutes in. But on the flip side of that, you can't use something if it's dead...

Sorry for the long post, trying to explicit. Thanks for any critique/ insights/ recommendations.

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Speedy, thanks for the reply... I would avoid open ground but there is no way to avoid it. From the left part of the map to the right side... it's ALL open flat ground with nothing but tall grass and sand impressions in some places... this continues for about 250 meters straight ahead with a small ditch filled with water and a few bushes in the middle... then after that another 200 meters and a two fences to hop over. It's seems hopeless... although, the smoke deal is a good idea.. maybe I can drop some down the tubes.

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Using crawl is a bad idea as it is slow and tires your soldiers out before they can get very far. Best bet IMHO is to break your squads into teams and advance those in bounds. The way to do this this is to advance one team of the squad using quick about 25-40 meters, depending on how much fire they are receiving, while the squad's other teams provide covering fire. Then, after about a 15 second pause (while the first team is moving), the second team makes its move. The third team, having been given a 30 second pause, now make its move while the first two are providing covering fire. You will still likely take some casualties, especially the last 100 meters or so closing with the enemy as his fire becomes more effective, but you won't be exposed to it for as long and your guys will be firing back. Any additional firepower you can bring to bear from MGs, tanks, etc. will be helpful and should be used. Even if it doesn't kill or wound any of the enemy, if it suppresses him at all, more of your men will survive intact.

Michael

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I know which mission you're playing. I just recently played it as well and got a total victory with very minimal casualties. Definitely use your first turn barrages and mortars. Hammer the house area and the defensive line with the wood pillboxes/trenches. You have a lot of open ground to cover, so imo it's better to use the shells to suppress and take out enemies than try to hoard them and in the end lose a bunch of your dudes. Start moving your troops while the shelling is taking place, and do what Michael said by bounding your troops. Personally, I just bounded whole squads instead of splitting them up. Also, one side of the map offers some good natural boudning points I used to my benefit while advancing. So yeah, be a little more aggressive with your ammo and bound your troops and you too can make it off the beach :).

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Michael, thank you for the insights. I was planning on employing your suggestions the last 200 meters. Originally being 400- 500 meters out (not from the objective but from the first contacts, over open flat ground, again no cover at all), with limited ammo (like some squads are 500 rounds), I just couldn't use the 'bounding' technique because I figured it was all for naught (outside the range of Garands, etc.). I tried to get them to crawl as far as possible while still retaining the 'quick' option to lessen the distance to some kind of cover, which was 200 meters ahead.

I will try the campaing again after it's all over and use your suggestion originally and probably some that are not yet mentioned. I usually play the whole way through without saving and replaying... more realistic for me. Man the decisions leaders had to make... this game makes you take note.

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It's hard to say anything here without it being a spoiler, but there are some low areas, if I recall correctly on one side of the map. You have to eyeball it though. You may have started on the wrong spot on your setup zone.

In answer to your question in general terms, you're in a tough spot. Eyeball for any depression, use area fire at last contact point for non moving units. Use the damned mortars in linear barrage against the bocage and advance when the Germans have their heads down.

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Originally being 400- 500 meters out (not from the objective but from the first contacts, over open flat ground, again no cover at all), with limited ammo (like some squads are 500 rounds), I just couldn't use the 'bounding' technique because I figured it was all for naught (outside the range of Garands, etc.).

If you split your squads into teams, you can give some of them limited firing arcs as small as you like to keep them from firing, while others fire to suppress the enemy. Or you could simply give them all firing arcs of, say, 150 meters, which is about the range that rifle fire starts to become effective. Or you could make the arc even shorter ranged than that if you are really bent on conserving ammo. I wouldn't go too far with that though, as the enemy fire will start to really cut you up at 100 meters.

Rambler's suggestion to go ahead and use the artillery is right on. The more bad guys you can kill in the first couple of minutes are that many fewer to shoot your guys.

Michael

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Like the other said: SLOW means low-crawl. That will fatigue your troops until they're useless if you're trying to do that over 200+ meters. Heck, even 16 meters (2 action spots) is what I consider a bit far for SLOW.

Advancing over open ground means moving some scouts out front. They're the bullet-bait. Everyone else is in overwatch. Then move forward, after the scouts make it, with a "1 move, 2 overwatch" pattern.

That's my .02

Good luck.

Ken

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The reason for movement by bounds is not just to let the men reply by fire, and it still makes sense at longer range where they cannot yet reply effectively.

The reason to bound at longer range is to spread the pain around by giving the enemy different up and moving targets at different times. Each unit is only maximum exposed for a brief period, then is back to being stationary and on "hide". It will soon be lost to sight for the enemy at extreme range, even in open grassland. If other units are moving in the meantime, they will draw the fire.

This gives the men time to rally from being shot at, in the brief period when it was "their turn".

The overall formation makes ground by using its "rally power" to absorb enemy fire. By that I mean, the snap-back from cautious to OK in morale terms is much faster if the unit isn't hit too hard for too long, because somebody else is taking the punishment for them. You actually increase the amount of punishment the whole formation can withstand by increasing the time of exposure, due to this factor. It is not a race to get out of the open by minimizing enemy firing time.

Second point - you can cover the ground to about 400 meters pretty safely this way, because long range enemy fire suppresses and slows, but it does not kill whole units. A man or two hit here or there, sure, but nothing that makes the men combat ineffective.

As you bound from 400 meters down to 200-250 meters, it instead becomes a game of reducing moving time to increase firing time, to suppress enemy shooters with your replies. The same formula of only a modest portion of the men moving at once, still works. The reason is now that the men in closer are firing back effectively and helping reduce your incoming. Smoke and use heavy weapons and supporting artillery at this point in the advance. (Earlier gives the enemy too much time to rally, smoke to clear, etc). You want your firepower to reduce the enemy shooters and ease the movement forward at the time when you are just getting into effective rifle range.

This has 2 effects. First, it reduces the rifle fire incoming you take, and thus the total firepower you experience over the attack as a whole. At longer range that rifle fire is ineffective, even if enemy MGs are effective. Second, it gets the maximum number of your own riflemen up to 200 meters or so in good order, which brings forward in time the point where you get fire ascendency over the defenders.

Once your men have made it to 200 yards, go stationary and pull triggers for all you are worth. "Mad minute" the defense. Nobody moves, everybody not panicked fires. Keep it up for 2-3 minutes.

This will suppress several of the enemy shooters and give your own pinned men time to rally. It will also let them catch their breath in physical exertion ("fatigue") terms. Laggards catch up and pull into range. The idea is to collect as many men as possible in good order and firing, at effective fire range. If they also have any sort of cover, so much the better.

Fire ascendency, not movement, takes ground.

After 2-3 minutes of fire by everyone at effective rifle range, resume bounding by a third to a quarter of the men, preferably on one flank where the enemy fire has slacked off the most. When in doubt just "listen to the men" - meaning, review all their morale levels. Those in the best shape are under the lightest enemy fire - that is the place to "step out" again from the "pause to fire". Everyone else just rallies and keeps up the outgoing fire.

At that point you hopefully get some men into the enemy position and with it into cover. They grenade their nearby opponents, fire back at everyone else. Then roll up the enemy position in cover to cover bounds as more men move out of the open into the cover they have cleared. Do not rush, or overload the first cover reached prematurely (that invites defeat by one enemy barrage or even just grenades and such). Only push more men into cover as room opens up. The last men to leave the open ground should be able to do so with most or all of the enemy ahead of them already silenced by their more advanced "friends".

This is one of the toughest standard infantry "drills" there is, but if you've mastered it you will appreciate the full power of good infantry. Tasks that once appeared impossible will seem entirely feasible, and weaknesses in the opponent's position will be open to exploit. Many defenses assume that wide stretches of open ground can be "held" effectively by quite minimal forces, like just a few MGs with LOS to the area. If you know your "advance drills", this won't be true for your forces, and that is something you can exploit to win battles, even when it isn't forced on you by the scenario.

I hope this helps.

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Welcome Dellinger327. Some great advice here. Especially the part about pounding suspected/known enemy positions HARD before doing any sort of movement. And then when moving try to keep that suppressive fire going.

Smoke is also very good, though it can take a bit of getting used to. I had an opportunity to watch some US Army officers conduct an assault over open ground using CM. They put down a great smoke barrage, but too soon (the assaulting forces weren't at their jump off before the smoke started to come down). By the time their soldiers got about 1/2 to the next cover the smoke started to clear. One of the officers watching said something like "Uh-oh... that's not good" just before a couple of machineguns started ripping into the exposed soldiers.

One other thing to say about SLOW... it's, er... slow :) One of the worst things to do is keep soldiers in the crosshairs of enemy guns. Except when getting up and moving is even worse! The point here is about planning. Do not make a plan which, from the start, relies upon prolonged exposure to enemy fire. It's most likely not going to work. A risky, fast type move might wind up equally disastrous, but it does have a chance of being a blazing success. Also not a great thing to base a plan on, however if there's a choice between only slow and fast over open terrain it's generally better to go fast.

Steve

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JasonC's point about the benefits of reducing range are really important. Not only does your killing potential increase as range decreases, the effect on the defenders (especially if you are numerically superior) tends to be pretty decisive at under 200m. By this time you've probably roughed them up pretty good with suppressing fire, therefore when you get a whole bunch of rifleman on line and firing flat out it's often enough to break the back of the resistance.

Steve

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Dellinger,

Some more advice: I know the campaign you're playing and I understand your hesitation to "waste" ammo at long range. However, once you can pinpoint enemy positions, even if they are ?, I would lay as much cover fire on them as possible, especially from your MGs. The object is not necessarily to kill your enemy but to keep their heads down as much as possible while your squads close the gap.

My tactic on this map was to pound the hedgerow with mortars (line option). Then close the gap leapfrogging platoons using quick movement orders. I took some casualties but not too bad.

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One thing that I've been doing lately is placing my 'assault' waypoints VERY much closer together. What used to be two waypoints is now five. That helps keep half (2/3rds) of a squad down and firing while one team bounds forward then drops to the ground. My biggest mistake used to be badly placing my 'assault' waypoints so the covering teams didn't have decent supporting LOF.

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MikeyD,

I think I have only used the assault commands in close combat situations, usually within 75 meters of the enemy held position. Quite often I'll use quick or fast to get a squad within closing distance and then use the assault command the last 50 meters or so, depending on the situation.

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JasonC- Well done. So much great info in your post. Many thanks to you. It was clear, concise, and I got it (which I don't get all posts on the board even though I read them...:o)

Administrator- Smoke & Slow, got it. Unfortunately, I assumed, from previous training missions/scenarios, that MG fire from 200+ against 'pinned' lying down infantry didn't seem to be too effective. So I thought a crawl forward would be somewhat prudent but perhaps not.

Pak40- lound and clear. I guess another moral of story is- use the ammo you need in the situation you are in, be prudent but not ridiculous... which I guess I was being at the detriment of my troops

Mikey- here, here... I have been doing the same thing but in another sense... I was afraid they would stop moving during my 1 minute turn, so I naturally placed them long (as you can tell, I'm not playing real time, hope I'm not looked down upon too much :( ) But, good info there. I need to start micromanaging movement better.

After 10 minutes of this scenario, I was almost wishing it was tight bocage fighting...:)

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I think I've only used the Slow command once or twice successfully and in a useful manner. It seems to work well with a 2 man scout team split off a squad - having them Quick towards a hedgerow, then drop very near to the hedgerow and Slow towards it, finishing with a very short cover arc, and then just letting them quietly observe for a minute or two can sometimes reveal enemy positions. If there are enemy immediately on the other side then you'll probably know all about it long before they get to the slow crawl stage.

I've also used it similarly with entire platoons. The whole load of them run towards a hedgerow, drop to the ground 1 action space away and crawl those last couple of meters with them on short cover arcs. Then waiting a shortwhile lets them start to pick out enemy positions, and lets the whole platoon open up on the most important at the time of your choosing.

I would stay away from Slow when it comes to actually moving forwards under enemy fire or observation.

For situations like the original poster's I'd have my platoons sit behind a friendly hedgerow for a minute or two watching suspected enemy positions getting mortared with HE. Then I'd add HMG or MMG area fire to that, and then I'd start moving rapidly across the open ground keeping support weapons on overwatch. I'll sometimes use smoke, but often if I suspect enemy positions, I'd rather hit them with HE rather than smoke.

In all of these situations I find a minute or two of quiet observation can be incredibly useful.

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Another option for the artillery is not to use it as prep fire, but to start plotting artillery at suspected targets in the first turn. It will take a few turns to arrive, but when it does you will have an idea where the enemy actually is, and can adjust accordingly.

Which is best depends on the amount of artillery you have, and the number of possible targets... (and the time you can take to to have the infantry waiting for it).

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All good points, one key issue to remember is to keep a high ratio of units providing overwatch/suppressive fire, not just actively firing at suspected enemy strongpoints, but just watching for enemy units. Ideally 2/3rds or more of your units should be just spotting/shooting.

Remember, suppression of enemy units is the key to any successful assault:

http://www.2ndbn5thmar.com/CoTTP/Suppression%20McBreen%202001.pdf

Your assault element should also ideally just advance in short bounds, around 30-50 meters at a time. This way thay can be up, moving and back down in cover before the enemy really starts to id them and start firing. Even on open ground, grass offers some cover to prone soldiers.

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Another option for the artillery is not to use it as prep fire, but to start plotting artillery at suspected targets in the first turn. It will take a few turns to arrive, but when it does you will have an idea where the enemy actually is, and can adjust accordingly.

Is it possible to adjust pre-planned arty? I've been assuming not, but it would handy if you can. I suppose that if you adjust it, it is no longer automatically on target, but the usual conditions of accuracy apply once again.

Michael

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Is it possible to adjust pre-planned arty? I've been assuming not, but it would handy if you can. I suppose that if you adjust it, it is no longer automatically on target, but the usual conditions of accuracy apply once again.

Michael

Yeah thats right. You can adjust it but for that you need los and have to go through the spotting rounds process to get it on target.

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The key thing in your advance is to shoot while moving. Whether you use "Assault" with whole squad(s) or break them into into teams using "Quick" or "Normal", target places that you think or know the enemy is going to be. This was standard operating procedure for all sides in WWII.

I didn't get this concept until recently. I was advancing, trying to stay hidden or quickly moving and then shooting. However, like you, I was getting slaughtered. I read this Osprey book on Squad and Platoon Tactics and they discussed how training taugh the squads of all nations to be aggressive using this approach. It suppresses the enemy and allows your men to advance better than any other technique I've tried.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not disgreeing with the group. The best way to approach this is -- as discussed -- bounding squads. The missing ingredient -- at least for me -- was having the squad(s) "shoot from the hip" as they advance.

Bob

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