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School of Hard Knocks ....again


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The problem, well my perception of the problem anyway, is that folks are getting hung up on the winning and not trying to understand the situational feel the designer was trying to produce. For better or worse the idea was to have the player feel what it was like to be sent into a situation unprepared and get a bloody nose. (I apologize to the designer if I am at all mis stating their intent.)

I'm sure that's exactly what the designer was aiming for. However, given the specified victory conditions, and the difficulty of reaching the objectives prioritised, the fact remains that, while it might be a clever move, an' all, just abandoning the scenario after T1 is the second best way of dealing with it in the context of the campaign. 'Ray.

Kudos to the designers for the try, but they missed their mark, I'm afraid.

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but they missed their mark, I'm afraid.

How? You can

* fight the battle using a variety of different approaches, win it with varying degrees of casualties, then go straight on to Crossroads, or

* fight some of the battle, improve you position relative to the Germans (knock out a few key weapons, remove some mines, etc) then ceasefire to University, or

* cease fire early and go straight to University

All of those are viable options. How is that a 'miss'?

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I'm sure that's exactly what the designer was aiming for. However, given the specified victory conditions, and the difficulty of reaching the objectives prioritised, the fact remains that, while it might be a clever move, an' all, just abandoning the scenario after T1 is the second best way of dealing with it in the context of the campaign. 'Ray.

Kudos to the designers for the try, but they missed their mark, I'm afraid.

But you don't know that until after you have played it once. Here is where a lot of us, myself included don't make the best of the efforts a designer has put in. We replay it to get the best result before moving onto the next battle. Sometimes we do it as we don't want to get too far into the campaign only to find we no longer have the resources to complete it, but in doing so we reduce some of the overall experience. In effect we are undermining the design.

What several folks have pointed out and are gradually winning me over to is - take your lumps. If you only achieved a minor victory or even a draw and you got mauled, continue if the campaign allows you to and try to get the most out of it on the first run through. Once you have played a battle all the FOW is gone and it will never be quite the same again.

You can always keep multiple saves and go back to an optimal point later if you desire.

That being said it may still not be an interesting style for some. The issue right now is there are still only a handful of campaigns and this one came packaged with the game. As such it is getting a lot more attention now than it would if we had 20+ campaigns to chose from.

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Lurking, not responding much, because we have been through this before.

I still stand by my suggestion of many threads ago: A brief note at the beginning of the Campaign, describing how difficult it will be, and even mentioning that realizing what battles should not even be fought may be an issue (which is a legitimate judgment call to put on a Campaign player) would likely solve the problem.

Given that information, the Campaign is excellent. Letting people wander in there unwittingly, particularly after a relatively easy first scenario (thus getting people emotionally invested in the Campaign) risks giving BFC a customer "rout".

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It's not about the difficulty per se as I think the first one is almost equally bad and that one is an embarrassing cakewalk.

It is about there been one bottleneck that is subjected to nonsensical preplanned defensive fire, barbed wire, mines, loads of arty, defending infantry in dubious positions, ATGs in overwatch, cruddy positions for the attacker to start off from and to top it off wide open spaces on either side of this bottleneck.

In short, every effort has been made to limit the player in his options which are little more then the choice of where to drop the arty and how much meat to push through the grinder. Fun? Not for me it wasn't.

And while I certainly put it stronger then most, it is clearly not a well liked scenario. You can defend it all you want but I cannot recall a community ever disliking a scenario to this degree. That is not the sign of a scenario maker hitting the mark.

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I must admit, I haven't played Normandy in a few weeks now :( But I'd love to see the designer take on these missions. Some of them are designed as if they are meant to be lost which is frustrating at best. I posted a while back saying how hard I found the campaigns in general, certainly compared to the campaigns in cmx1 anyway. For whatever reasons I don't really want to invest my time in Normandy again until the commonwealth module arrives. But then I can't help feel that package is going to feel the same too :(

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I think what some players suffer from is being impatient, which is not limited to, but very much including School of Hard Knocks. I find that if I use the darkness to get engineers to clear the bridge area of mines and wire, and get MGs and Mortars in position, it's wiser just to wait for daylight, when spotting ability dramatically improves. If one can do this, and withhold a major infantry or tank commitment, surgical mortar strikes and massed machine gun fire can keep the enemy surpressed long enough for you to move just a few guys forward. Eventually this will reveal the AT positions, at which point mortars are brought to bear. The tanks move forward and its only a question of time.

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How? You can

* fight the battle using a variety of different approaches, win it with varying degrees of casualties, then go straight on to Crossroads, or

* fight some of the battle, improve you position relative to the Germans (knock out a few key weapons, remove some mines, etc) then ceasefire to University, or

* cease fire early and go straight to University

All of those are viable options. How is that a 'miss'?

It's a miss, because of all those options, the least palatable one (for a games player, i.e. not playing) is one of the best choices for the progress of the campaign. I can barely describe how I felt when I went back to the beginning of School in order to 'throw' it so I could have a look at University, Cease Fired after T1 and got a Draw. Combination of disgust and disappointment. That victory level bears no relationship to the briefing, and should be at least some level of German victory, since there's a half day delay before the commencement of University. The scenario is a 'pig in a poke'.

One way in which they didn't miss their mark, though, is in 'edumication'. In School I learned that darkness is my friend (though I still have to find out exactly the level of commitment darkness has to the relationship, as Bollevilleproved to me), that a couple of batteries of 105s can completely devastate even an entrenched position, that shermans are pretty tough cookies, actually, Tank smoke is useful for more than just running away from unexpected threats... I'm sure there were more lessons learned, but those are the headlines as I remember them. As in real life though, University taught me little by comparison :)

One of my key resentments about the whole campaign, as I held it at the end of La Haye was that I had never had access to 'proper artillery' in order to conduct preplanned bombardment. It seemed a trite, gamey, cheap way of restricting the player by an artificial 'coincidence' that detracted from the game. Turns out that all the other scenarios that I hadn't played (so far - haven't looked at the alternate La Haye yet), you do get the chance for preplanned fire with the 105s.

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Maybe there hasnt ever been as much comment about a scenario in this community - but as someone who has been around since before the CMBO BETA (not even a demo) I can tell you that the community has changed.

I never thought I'd see a post about ****ing SLIDERS for realism. Are you kidding me? All I've noticed since the game has came out is a lot more whining then I ever saw on this board. Dont get me wrong. Discussion is one thing. Calling the scenario a turd? All the people saying this **** arent making games or campaigns. And if you dont like that campaign, they included several others. It doesnt ruin the game at all. I seriously cant understand what the big deal is, or how people are getting so upset about a game scenario thats very difficult. This is like the 6th or 7th incarnation of a CM game. Just out of company scenarios theres doubtless going to be ones that are hard, or people dont like that much.

As it is, I played this scenario a week into owning this game, and without smoke, without sneaking engineers I got across the bridge with troops. Didnt get to the hill. my attack stalled out there. I called for a cease fire. I took a lot of casualties but **** what do you expect fighting a WW2 game?

As far as contributing anything to the campaign, what does any mission really contribute to the campaign? Most people play scenarios or qbs, and those are one shot - they have even less effect than any campaign mission could ever have. Those dont affect ****. And as far as the campaign, this does affect things - you have a lot less troops. does it affect ANYTHING if you even play the game really? No, except BFCs paycheck. Because its a GAME. Its something people do recreationally. And dont give me 'well its not fun.' If you want 'FUN' then go play Command and Conquer. CM Is and always will be FOR GROGS. this doesnt mean its not 'FUN'. It means its 'FUN' for people who like REALISM. And guess what, IRL sometimes you get the **** kicked outta you. If you're playing C&F for the 10th time, ya it may be a drag knowing that this mission is on the way. But then again, if you played through any campaign once you basically know what to expect mainly. The first time you play this, you have no idea what to expect, and you get your ass kicked. It happens.

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I seriously cant understand what the big deal is, or how people are getting so upset about a game scenario thats very difficult.

Maybe we're boring you, but it ain't the difficulty that's the problem, it's the manner in which that difficulty is created and the lack of signposting of that difficulty that is a large part of my reservations about this campaign.

If you're playing C&F for the 10th time, ya it may be a drag knowing that this mission is on the way.

Or you might just be reckoning on hitting Cease Fire in the setup phase. Yay. That's fun, realistic or not ( <- and that, folks, is sarcasm).

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It's true some players enjoy the challenge of overcoming whatever the cruel, dastardly designer has thrown at one, and maybe others want to progress in a manner that makes them feel like they have already mastered the game.

Some people prefer Call of Duty, and some prefer CM.

Different strokes...

Yes, there are lots of things wrong about CM2 generally. Like many of us I am both a vociferous critic and a huge fan - because the CM series is still the best COTS product of its kind available. Some players had problems with this scenario and others did not. No reason to denigrate the hard work of designers who have provided this entertainment for us. Not worth the angst imo. Move on to another scenario/campaign/game and get back to having fun...

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I think what some players suffer from is being impatient, which is not limited to, but very much including School of Hard Knocks. I find that if I use the darkness to get engineers to clear the bridge area of mines and wire, and get MGs and Mortars in position, it's wiser just to wait for daylight, when spotting ability dramatically improves. If one can do this, and withhold a major infantry or tank commitment, surgical mortar strikes and massed machine gun fire can keep the enemy surpressed long enough for you to move just a few guys forward. Eventually this will reveal the AT positions, at which point mortars are brought to bear. The tanks move forward and its only a question of time.

You hit the nail on the head. Patience is definitely key in winning School of Hard Knocks. It's 90 turns long! The only time you need to hurry is at the beginning to take advantage of the cover of darkness.

There are other approaches to School besides "Hey-Diddle-Diddle, Straight-Up-The-Middle". Frontal assaults with infantry are notoriously bloody, so why be surprised if the results resemble WWI?

It really doesn't take much infantry to win this scenario. Just because you get an entire battalion doesn't mean you have to send all of them into the meat-grinder. Womble won this game by focusing on getting his tanks across. I was successful by getting two platoons through the swamp to the right map edge and then flanking the German positions.

School is a puzzle. Not figuring it out doesn't make it a bad puzzle. It might not be some player's cup of tea because the amount of patience and care required simply isn't fun for them.

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The only time you need to hurry is at the beginning to take advantage of the cover of darkness.

And any time when there might be incoming artillery, which is oh, 95% of the time.

School is a puzzle. Not figuring it out doesn't make it a bad puzzle.

Making a scenario one big puzzle is a recipe for a bad scenarios, IMO. Finding "the key" makes them trivial exercises. Not grokking it makes them "impossible". Scenarios, if they must be thought of as puzzles should be a series of smaller puzzles, where not spotting one key doesn't make or break success.

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not spotting one key doesn't make or break success.

There is not just one and only one key to the puzzle, because SHK isn't a 'puzzle'. It's a battle. There are many different approaches that will work, as the comments in this thread - including those from you - amply demonstrate.

There are probably quite a few approaches that won't, too. But the one approach that definitely won't work is going in with no plan, or a half arsed plan. That WILL get a lot of you pTruppen killed.

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There is not just one and only one key to the puzzle, because SHK isn't a 'puzzle'. It's a battle. There are many different approaches that will work, as the comments in this thread - including those from you - amply demonstrate.

Keys aren't the only way to get through doors, either. They're the most convenient and cost the least (repairing your jimmied door jamb before you go back out again is expensive in time at least). I used a crowbar, if you'll allow me to extend a metaphor, and lost more troops than I should have. Trying to kick this particular door in won't get you very much more than a sore foot. The "key" to this "puzzle" is to bother only minimally with infantry and let your tanks and indirect HE do the work. Or to go round the back and walk in the unlocked kitchen door (University); you don't even need to rattle the doorknob on the front door.

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And any time when there might be incoming artillery, which is oh, 95% of the time.

Sure, and if an AT gun starts sniping your tanks it is a good idea to react in a "hurry". What I meant was that your overall plan in School should not be hurried, but patient. You have an hour and a half. If your plan is to hurry large concentrations of infantry up the middle against intact German defenses, you will get slaughtered.

Making a scenario one big puzzle is a recipe for a bad scenarios, IMO. Finding "the key" makes them trivial exercises. Not grokking it makes them "impossible". Scenarios, if they must be thought of as puzzles should be a series of smaller puzzles, where not spotting one key doesn't make or break success.

Yeah, I suppose if someone happens to find a workable solution to a particular CM "puzzle", they get some satisfaction from playing it and it is therefore a "good" scenario. :)

However, I disagree that finding a "key" to School of Hard Knocks renders it trivial.

I think your overall complaint is that messing up in School pretty much makes the rest of the Fortitude campaign a nightmare. If you pass School in reasonable shape, the rest of the campaign is not real hard. So, maybe the challenge is too front-loaded. In which case, perhaps campaign designers should always make the last scenario in a campaign the most difficult.

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And that is exactly what i would hope to avoid - rules for designers.

Hopefully over time there will be plenty of campaigns so if you don't like one, it just becomes no different than not particularly liking a single scenario. The last thing we need to see though is the community limiting the creation of new campaigns because some portion of the community won't like it.

Personally I didn't find the "key" to SoHK (yeah I got tired of writing it out). What I found was the upper brass was whankered and my men were not going to cross the river without more preparation. Damn it they are my men! :D For me it was kind of interesting to make that call and just have to deal with whatever the fallout was. (More difficult conditions in the next scenario perhaps, at that point I didn't know). It didn't hurt that the incoming artillery blew the bridge as well. I felt like I was in the position of a battalion commander who felt this was just the really wrong decision (and nobody could s++tcan me). It made the campaign very unique and different. For me that made the campaign so far an outstanding success. Meanwhile I intend to go back and try some of these suggestions and see if I can't improve my overall gameplay.

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Maybe there hasnt ever been as much comment about a scenario in this community - but as someone who has been around since before the CMBO BETA (not even a demo) I can tell you that the community has changed.

I never thought I'd see a post about ****ing SLIDERS for realism. Are you kidding me? All I've noticed since the game has came out is a lot more whining then I ever saw on this board. Dont get me wrong. Discussion is one thing. Calling the scenario a turd? All the people saying this **** arent making games or campaigns. And if you dont like that campaign, they included several others. It doesnt ruin the game at all. I seriously cant understand what the big deal is, or how people are getting so upset about a game scenario thats very difficult. This is like the 6th or 7th incarnation of a CM game. Just out of company scenarios theres doubtless going to be ones that are hard, or people dont like that much.

As it is, I played this scenario a week into owning this game, and without smoke, without sneaking engineers I got across the bridge with troops. Didnt get to the hill. my attack stalled out there. I called for a cease fire. I took a lot of casualties but **** what do you expect fighting a WW2 game?

As far as contributing anything to the campaign, what does any mission really contribute to the campaign? Most people play scenarios or qbs, and those are one shot - they have even less effect than any campaign mission could ever have. Those dont affect ****. And as far as the campaign, this does affect things - you have a lot less troops. does it affect ANYTHING if you even play the game really? No, except BFCs paycheck. Because its a GAME. Its something people do recreationally. And dont give me 'well its not fun.' If you want 'FUN' then go play Command and Conquer. CM Is and always will be FOR GROGS. this doesnt mean its not 'FUN'. It means its 'FUN' for people who like REALISM. And guess what, IRL sometimes you get the **** kicked outta you. If you're playing C&F for the 10th time, ya it may be a drag knowing that this mission is on the way. But then again, if you played through any campaign once you basically know what to expect mainly. The first time you play this, you have no idea what to expect, and you get your ass kicked. It happens.

Oh yeah baby,say it like it is

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Oh yeah baby,say it like it is

Totally agree.

Sometimes the choices you get are presented with are not really choices at all and there isn't room for clever arsed Rommel tactics, swanning around where nobody expected you. Bite the bullet and do a 'Monty' - and if you haven't got the assets you think you need for a deliberate operation, well thats when you have some hard deciscions.

I'm in the middle of this campaign and I'm loving it - and yes I've had several restarts, but nobody said life was easy.

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  • 5 months later...

For some reason I keep thinking about this battle. Im thinking about replaying it again but i feel a little scared. I was using search to see if anyone posted some super great way to win but got tired of reading posts after finishing this thread. This scenario is definitely a classic. very HARD. I tried it a bunch of times before finally being satisfied with my win. The final try had me taking advantage of the system in new ways. my first move was running up the left field along my side of the river, into 500 meters of the nearest left side german positions. I blasted them hard with my Garands before cutting right into the swamp and under the bridge to go along the opposite right river bank to try to eventually make it into the patch of forest on the right. then i did the same kinda thing on the right and had them cross though the swamp. as soon as a got my tanks i drove them to the trees to shell the walls and hedges that were hiding the enemy. but I had then retreat to hiding before the mist cleared to give the AT guns los. when the mist cleared i spotted the guns with my infantry and artyed them. with the guns taken care of i moved up my tanks and started to push infantry infantry up middle. I tried to be very very patient with my swamp flank platoons but they got cut up, but on the right, my main effort, they made it to the forest. My heavy art pounded the hill on light maximum almost the whole battle. my mortars targeted everything else. anyway i almost finished getting onto the main hill before running out of time but i was too rushed at the end and took too many casualties, wondering about some kinda uber way to get er done and capture the hill with out losing too much. Did anyone roll up the whole defense with out suffering heavy loses?

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I know this scenario has been beat to death but my question is, why would anyone design a scenario like this? Whats the purpose? I have been attempting it over and over again for a week

I think it was 7 attempts for me before I finally finished in what I considered 'good order'. (My idea of what 'good order' meant kept getting downgraded after each of the first 4 or 5 attempts. Sixth was almost a win, but for a stoopid error on my part.

But don't give up on it, it's just one more challenge to be surmounted. While it can be extremely aggravating at times, that's precisely what produces a feeling of satisfaction when you do finally triumph.

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meh its hard..I had to restart it a couple times..but the hardest part was assaulting the trenches.I had a bug where one mg crew woudlnt die..I had to charge him at close range.Even if 37 guys plus 3 tanks where firing at him...he wouldnt die...llol..The satisfaction when you finaly complete this mission is equivalent to its difficulty level tho

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I havn't read this whole thread, but I'm just giving this campaign one last go before commonwealth and though I'd say my piece.

I've tried this camp 2 or 3 times previously and have never had the stomach to get past SHK.

I don't really have a problem with the level its self. The thing is, I guess, that whereas games are designed to be fun, combat is specifically designed to be as unfun as possible, so trying to make a highly realistic game/campaign is always about finding a balance.

Now if I was a real battalion cdr in normandy, I would have known that had I taken my battalion into an attack, met unexpected resistance, taken heavy casualties with no gain and had to call off the attack, that there would be a fairly good chance that I could get the nice chaps up at division artillery to come in and pummel the hell out of the krauts in their relatively exposed positions before infiltrating my troops over the river under cover of darkness.

As it turns out, this is exactly what happens if you fail to attack in SHK but without browsing forums I would never have known that the best option is failure-it goes against all precedence with regard to computer games. It would never have occured to me that a designer would do this.

Now I know they cant tell you before the mission-"if it gets rough dont bother" but some sort of previous hint that there is more than one way to skin a cat might have relieved a lot of the frustration displayed on this thread.

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