Basing Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    323
    Hi Guys. I have been working hard in a series of rounds, running autotester and then fixing the asserts. I have an issue relating to basing that I need your advice on.

    First off I have modified the allocation code to add a special requirement to Secure tasks that require a line or line support unit. But there are still occasions where this does not happen. One of these occurs in the Manhay Crossroads scenario where I have the US Corps HQ and two of its arty assigned to secure a rear area objective. It should have got a line or line spt unit but these are few on the ground and needed for the forward objectives, so this one missed out. I could spend a lot of time now trying to prevent this situation arising but I don't want to delay any further. Besides there may be legitimate reasons for this.

    Now the code as it stands at the moment bases the HQ and the arty units leaving no one to defend the actual objective - not good. Options seem to be to continue basing the arty but force the HQ to go to the objective. Force all of them to go to the objective. I could test for proximity of enemy. In this particular case there is enemy within three clicks albeit on the other side of the forest.

    So what do you think I should opt for?
     
  2. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    2,078
    Likes Received:
    116
    Could you clarify a little for me, please, Dave?
    1. So, basic terms - sorry - when you say the code at the moment 'bases' the HQ etc (leaving no one on the objective) do you mean it places the HQ back out of harm's way, (which is, as it happens, distant from the objective)? Or something else?
    2. When you say you could test for enemy proximity do you mean put in code that means that if the enemy is 'too close' (to be defined) then you will not force the base and arty units to occupy the objective? But if no enemy is present (within defined range) they will occupy the objective? Is that the idea?
    3. I assume the code is to apply in ALL situations, not just the relatively safe situation you've outlined - where the HQ is being used to defend a relatively safe objective?

    If it's all situations then when the AI is giving the orders I could see forcing the HQ and arty to occupy the objective as leading to many problems, no? Would it not just mean that the AI would use the HQ and arty to capture and hold forward objectives too? Why not? If that's the case, then ALWAYS base would be my choice, because isn't that the issue you're trying to fix? That HQ and arty units controlled by the enemy AI are going too far forward etc? In addition, as far as both player and AI goes I don't think that either HQ or arty units should be used to hold objectives of any sort alone. Of course, in Manhay, for example, I regularly use the 2SS Pz DIV HQ to occupy Odeigne, but I'm not ever expecting it to defend it and will obviously move it out if anything approaches. Will the AI - if it's controlling the units - do likewise?

    Generally, if I've understood the issue correctly, I would say definitely go for whichever option achieves the primary objective - which is to stop bases and arty getting involved in front line action, to keep them out of harm's way. No? And in achieving that I wouldn't want them to rely on an an intelligence-based check for proximate enemy, because that might be wrong. I would just want them to be always out of trouble.
     
    #2 john connor, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  3. jimcarravallah

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2014
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    63
    If you're talking about rear area security on objectives, it becomes a case of anyone available. In effect you're establishing a garrison, ideally a line combat unit, but in cases where the line combat units can't be diverted from other priorities, a unit with some defensive capabilities would be assigned the task, in the case you cited, an artillery unit before a HQ contingent.

    In constructing support unit Tables of Organization and Equipment (TO&Es), small arms and ammo are allocated to all personnel, including cooks, drivers, clerks, and medics. Keep in mind, before they assumed their role in the battlefield, all were trained in combat skills so they could perform security tasks if necessary when the location where they are performing their primary specialty comes under attack.

    In the Battle of Saipan, the Japanese forces retreated to a far corner of the island and personnel there were assembled to conduct a final banzai attack. The attack pushed through line units and was stalled from destroying the on island supply base by some rear area Marine artillery units which went into hand to hand combat once the attacking force closed inside minimum artillery fire range.
     
  4. Kensal

    Kensal Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2018
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I assume that the issue is that if you force an HQ or arty to go to an objective, the code will require them to do that in all events, and so HQs and arty may continue to advance towards objectives as currently.

    Personally I think that you should avoid this and leave it to line or line support units to defend objectives. If basing means keeping HQs and arty out of the line, that to me is the best outcome.

    The occasions when truly rear echelon units became involved in defending the line was pretty rare on the western front at least.
     
  5. Rob

    Rob Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    3

    plus one!
     
  6. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    323
    Thanks for the response fellows.

    I should have clarified that in general senior HQs and long range arty are based and seem to do so well. The case that prompted this discussion is rare. I didn't have it fire in over 18 hours of autotesting. It was just a rare case where for reasons that are too complicated to explain here a line unit was not available. I have opted to allow HQs to go to the objectives in such cases, rather than abandon the mission as this may end up in a recursion - not good. We'll just have to keep an eye out for this case firing again and hopefuly this time I can get a recording that goes back far enough to trap the allocation of units. Then maybe I'll have a chance at preventing it arising.

    On another related issue. I am now manually playtesting the game - ie I'm issuing orders and using the interface as per a normal user. I am playting the tutorial and the 4th AD HQ arrives on map. I have already issued orders to CCA and its units. So it's only the 4th AD HQ and one long range arty unit. Actually I couldn't see the arty unit as it was directly under the HQ unit icon. I issued a defend order to the HQ to manually base it. But it then caused this very situation above to fire because there were no line units. The game prompty asserted because the HQ and the arty both got based, leaving no one to secure the objective.

    This stymied my original intent - which was to manually base the HQ at the objective I assigned. I had forgot to turn off the basing option on the task edit pane. The default for this option is true. I may add some code to default it to false if everyone in the assigned force group is capable of basing. What do you think?
     
  7. Art Hall

    Art Hall Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2014
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    5
    sounds good Dave.
     
  8. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    2,078
    Likes Received:
    116
    But if you do that will it still assert if a user accidentally uses the tickbox and switches on basing?
     
  9. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    323
    Peter, yes it will still assert and for good reason - see below.

    I just confirmed that if the user unchecks basing in the task edit view the HQ and its arty unit will simply move to the objective as a group and defend there. So that works fine. If the user forgets to uncheck the basing option we need to handle this properly. As I see it, these are our options:

    1. Automatically uncheck the basing option if there are no line units and thus force the whole force to move to the objective.
    2. Base the HQ but move the arty to the objective.
    3. Base the arty but move the HQ to the objective.
    4. Base them all and leave the objective empty.
    5. Abort the placement of the task - ie don't allow the user to set a defend task with only basing units (and the basing option active).
    Re Option 5. This is do-able for the user but not readily for the AI. The AI code already tries to ensure this situation doesn't occur. But say if a force had a line unit and it was destroyed and only basing units remain then we end up in this situation. It's not always appropriate to abandon the plan and so we need a fallback option that handles the situation rather than negates it. These are rare occurrences but nonetheless needs to be addressed. So I don't think this option works.

    Re Option 4. I'm not sure of all the downstream effects of not having anyone at the objective but I do know that it will fail any test at achieving the objective. This will cause serious issues in the scheduling code - hence why the code asserts. The normal code requires at least one unit to be assigned to the main force group of a plan. Units that are based are subtracted from the mainFG. This will leave no one assigned in this instance. I don't want to allow that option because it could mean a lot more time coding to make it safe.

    So that leaves just options one to three.

    Option 2 and 3 are basically halfway solutions. They put someone in the mainFG and hence at the the objective. This may be close to enemy or not. But if it is whoever goes to the objective will be in harms way.

    Probably the safest thing is to force the whole force to go to the objective (Option 1). But this may put the whole force in harms way and frustrate some users. If we opt for option 1 for the user we can also do the same thing for the AI and thus at least guarantee some protection for the force - ie sticking together is better than splitting the force. It handles the case rather than negates it, which can't be guaranteed with the AI. It's not ideal but is probably the lesser of all the evils on offer.

    What do you think?
     
    #9 Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor, Jan 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  10. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    2,078
    Likes Received:
    116
    Would it happen often, I wonder, Dave, that the AI controlled side would choose to hold an objective with an HQ group that had no immediate line units? This would have to be a tier above Bn, obviously, but there are Brigade and Regiment HQs a plenty (not to mention Div and Corps etc) with no line units directly attached, I guess, and - indeed - you often wonder what exactly to do with them. Is there a danger the AI will try to use them to Move to objectives that are forward, that are past and beyond the intel-given front line? Or have I misunderstood? Because it's only really that kind of behaviour that stands out as in need of a cure. If we are sure the enemy AI will not try to simply give 'spare' HQs (and arty) Move orders right through the intel front line to occupy distant front line objectives then I think we're ok. If we're not sure about that though, then that's the thing to stop, no? (Even if it means dealing with option 4, I hate to say...) There will have been not much point to all this work you've done otherwise, because sooner or later we'll be seeing the enemy AI trying to shift HQs and arty through front lines en route to objectives.

    I probably haven't understood the issue correctly.
     
  11. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Messages:
    3,043
    Likes Received:
    323
    Good comment Peter. I have modified my previous post to explain that this is a rare occurrence. The norm is that the allocation code will prevent this from arising in 99% of cases. But there is a chance it may not prevent it because of competing requirements. Also, once a mission is underway it may arise if the line unit is destroyed and the force chooses not to abandon for some reason. So it is rare but it needs to be handled.
     
  12. ironsight

    ironsight Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2015
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    3
    If you have things covered for 99% of the situations, then I would do whatever is easiest and quickest for you to resolve the 1%. Surely you have bigger fish to fry at this point.
     
  13. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    2,078
    Likes Received:
    116
    Ok. Well, six and two threes I think, if we're dealing with a 1% chance of it happening - so I would go for whichever is the least work to implement. ;) Then we can provide feedback when we see how it pans out...
     
  14. jimcarravallah

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2014
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    63

    My understanding is that you're discussing maintaining a presence on an objective situated in the rear of the current combat, but must be protected from being seized by the enemy.

    If that's the case, see my earlier comments.

    You're dealing with primary and secondary missions, in the case of an artillery unit a secondary mission would be security in rear areas so long as being assigned it does not interfere with its primary mission.

    Artillery units are structured to perform the action of line combat units in a pinch whether under a surprise attack or ordered to maintain a position while still performing its primary support mission.

    You don't want artillery units moving about the map willy nilly, thus the requirement for basing. But, the force commander still has the latitude to order an artillery unit to shift to or base on a specific location supporting the overall force needs.

    Generally, in the case of rear areas, a force would be ordered to perform secondary garrison duties on a spot critical to rear area communications (crossings, road crossings, mountain passes, towns, supply points) or where it can assist the main force by maintaining better battlefield observation for intel on enemy dispositions (high ground).. In general those locations determine the criteria for maintaining a long term presence on an game objective after it has been captured by friendly forces.

    In essence, basing was established to keep critical units from rushing to the front when their mission is performed better and more efficiently from the rear. That doesn't negate the secondary mission to maintain strong rear area security, which would include holding objectives left in the rear during the current combat.
     
  15. SamuraiN

    SamuraiN Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2019
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    5
    In this case, option 2, ARTY should go to the objective. Reality aside, in game, the only reason a HQ moves is to make command line shorter, which can be achieved by the basing option. In other words, HQ should not move unless specifically ordered to do so. ARTY is somewhat different, as it may be moved to a point where its firing range can be more effective, or to act as a temporary anti-tank unit, etc.
     
  16. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    65
    I am not up-to-date regarding the newest bells and whistles under the game's hood....
    The game engine can handle mergers, means routing/beat up units will release a certain amount of men and the number will be added to the merged unit, while the original unit will be removed and its casualties deducted before moving the surviving men to the destination unit, right? (correct me if I am wrong)
    Now my question: Can the engine go the opposite way and spawn units?

    The reason for asking:
    The Germans used dedicated units to provide rear-area security. The layout per inf coy and per inf regiment (in the security divisions) matched the equipment/weapon loadout of the corresponding reg. Wehrmacht inf units, for the most part, usually.

    Example:
    An SS Panzer Corps had a "Sicherungs-Kompanie" (Security Company). The coy could be tasked with securing the HQ area, but could also secure an objective, when each and every line unit was needed to push elsewhere.

    If the engine could spawn such element, then the spawned unit could occupy the objective, simulating a historical security unit moving up from the rear.

    There were a number of Security Divisions, where some of them were attached to Army HQs later on, where then their Inf Regts and their arty Bn were seen and used as fire brigades.
    Their inf regiment ("Landesschützen-Regiment", 3-4 Landesschützen Bns, 1 arty Bn, 1 guard Bn with 4 guard Coys, 1 Police Bn) had the very same layout as a regular inf regiment, with slight differences regarding the weapons loadout and number of Inf Bns. Their arty bn had 3 batteries with light field guns (usually), but some of these Bns had 75-mm or 105-mm Feldkanonen. (German guns and captured ones). Most of the Security-Divisions also had 1 or 2 Coys with captured tanks, from 1942 to the end of the war.
    In practice, when attached to Army HQs, the HQs tended to employ these supposed 2 fire brigade elements (inf Bns and the arty Bn) like regular line units, though, which was some form of "misuse", but obviously needed. Such a division also had 4 Police-Coys (4 coys, all motorized).

    Back to the actual question/problem:

    If the engine cannot spawn units:

    If you add a single Coy to the OOB that simulates (historically accurate, btw) a Corps' security detachment (the Security Coy mentioned above), then the AI could send that Coy to the objective, so that the plan/execution doesn't have to aborted/re-calculated, where then a proper force allocation is maintained.
    In theory, a Security Coy was a mix of line unit and Police unit. In practice, they had a rather normal weapon loadout and the same training, so they could secure and defend an objective.

    The Feld-Ersatz-Bns (field replacement bns), the training and personnel-pool units employed right behind the front, were the field training units of the Wehrmacht, where recruits were assigned to after boot camp (in the "Ersatz-Bn" - Replacement Bn - in Germany), but they were usually tasked with securing the rear areas behind the front or with securing (uncontested) objectives. They were also thrown to the the frontlines during emergency situations.
    Technically, a given regular inf Bn would draw men from the attached replacement Bn in its rear whenever it needed replacements and when the recruits had received sufficient training, under normal conditions. The Inf Bn would draw single men or groups of soldiers like say platoons or even complete Coys, while trying to maintain the experienced skeleton (NCOs and officers) of a unit. If the conditions allowed, they tried to move groups who had trained together - say a platoon or half-platoon - together, to improve cohesion/teamplay, afaik.

    So you could also take these types of units and abstract this rather complex replacement and security regime by adding 1 replacement Coy, to simulate a dedicated rear area unit and attach it to the Corps HQ directly, and task this unit (just like the security coy with securing the objective. From your POV, it's just almost the same coy layout in both cases, just with different names, and with more additional training (thus better cohesion and somewhat more experience) for the field replacement Coy, I guess.
    Both solutions would be very historical.

    I am sure the US Army had a comparable system, I am just not sure what type of units performed such task.
    Military police? Were there security coys? MP Coys or detachments?
    The US rear area was packed with MP checkpoints during the Battle of the Bulge. In Vietnam, when the Viet-Cong attacked Saigon, most of the first responders were MP officers/soldiers. The US must have had a rear area security detail, right?

    Anyway .... Currently, the senior HQ's goodies (base units, artillery Bns/rgts and - yes - the invisible supply trucks) suffer of a lack of rear guard and objective security.

    (Yes, I know, quite a few things are abstracted and maybe have to be abstracted in order not to overload the game, like the abstraction of supply trucks ... btw, it would be cool if supply trucks would be rendered, this would allow to 1. redirecting - means manually re-route friendly trucks, to get them out of harms way and 2.it would allow to recon/find/destroy enemy trucks, just like in real life :p), but I think it would be a nice addition to the game to add such type of units and to give the AI a) the means to occupy objectives when all line units are needed elsewhere and b) to actually protect the most vulnerable assets: arties and base units.)

    If the allocation routine doesn't determine that the security company is needed to secure/occupy/defend an objective, it could be tasked to set up in the vicinity of a) a Base unit or b) an arty rgt/Bn, to provide ... *drum roll* protection. :)
    Side effect: With such unit a base/arty unit could get out of harms way more easily, as such security coy could either attack the threat or perform a defend task to give the base/arty the opportunity to get out of there.

    Not sure it this would be too complex, but I always felt that Corps and Army assets are often endangered to get caught with their pants down (due to the lack of protection). And it's also somewhat frustrating to having to use large base or arty assets (with up to ~1,000 men) as occupation force for uncontested objectives (eg. in cities).

    PS: (Additional thought: I am not sure if the code should allow the player/the AI to have large arty units hog cities. Such units could not set up inside cities, they were just too large and the space in cities too confined, imho. Base units could use plazas, houses, factory buildings, backyards, etc., so bases could still be allowed, imo).

    What do you think?
     
    #16 GoodGuy, Mar 1, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020

Share This Page