My first battle. Here's how it went...

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by BarryJI, Jul 9, 2020.

  1. BarryJI

    BarryJI Member

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    I've been playing the living daylights out of Command Ops 2. Or, at least, after reading all the documentation I could find (including the manual) and watching all the tutorial videos, I dove into St. Vith, playing as the Allies, with realistic orders delay and historical weather. I did well but I would love to pose a few questions to some of you vets. Your responses will really help me out and accelerate my understanding of the game. I'm an experienced wargamer but this is the first Brigade and higher scaled game I've played since Decisive Action nearly 20 years ago. It's a marvel.

    I pushed harder on the first day than TortugaPower did in his excellent playthrough because I figured it would be a great advantage to have taken St. Vith by sunset on Day 2 and to fight the enemy reinforcements the next day from there, along the main approach roads and from the high ground to the west of the town instead of fighting a running battle on the way in. It worked and by the beginning of Day 2 I had the most amazing positions for three armour battalions along the approach road from the west and on high ground at the northern end of the map. With these forces and plentiful artillery I hammered the Axis reinforcements and stopped the counterattack in its tracks. I thought I was Georgie Patton himself at this point but it was where my problems started. Here are my questions:

    - It became a game of whack-a-mole on the night of Day 3 and the next day. Enemy units snuck into all the objectives I had taken and I spent the next 48 hours repelling counter-attacks at all locations, including, humiliatingly, the first objective, the bridge. I did not leave a large enough defensive force at any of the target locations so I had to juggle forces, putting out fires. Some of these battles, against dug-in opposition, were unexpectedly tough. What size force should the player leave around conquered objectives to avoid this happening? Is it worth splitting up a battalion between adjacent objectives and leave them there on guard rather than use them to push north with as much strength as possible?

    - The other consequence of my less than adequate rear defense was that enemy units played havoc with my supply lines. Now I wasn't completely careless about this; I probed and cleared all the main routes for motorised units but I had obviously allowed too many battered but not beaten enemy units to roam about behind my front line. This begs another question: should you try and kill everything you meet and not advance until you do? How do you balance this with making the best time to an objective? Should I always be detatching companies to run after retreating enemies after I've broken through?

    - Is it possible that, using historical weather, this scenario plays out in an unusual way, because visibility in the snow is really bad during the day (500ft) and non-existent at night? Would it be much easier to play with greater visibility? My playthrough was a bit of a knife-fight and the tanks' range was negated.

    - Some things about resupply I don't yet fully understand. I was getting messages that supply convoys to my high-level bases in the rear were being interdicted, but how? My HQ and depot units were not under threat as far as I could see. And why did some of these out-of-harm's way units have to "bunker down"?

    In the end I got a Decisive Victory because I was able to recapture all but one of the objectives by ordering tank battalions that were no longer needed around St Vith to sweep back south. There was no surrender but by the scheduled end of the battle I was awarded a Decisive Victory with 520 personnel losses to the Axis' 3629, AFV losses were 121/182, guns 22/115.

    This is a truly fantastic game. I want to be good at it. I'd be grateful for all responses to this post. Thanks!
     
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  2. john connor

    john connor Member

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    But you are good at it already! Dec Vic on first battle. Congrats! Fantastic you enjoyed the game so much. It really is the only game out there with a real map and a real command chain.

    The losses, for me, are worrying. Because that's a huge disparity between Axis and Allied. What version were you playing, Steam or latest L&L? What was the biggest killer, from the AAR screen? This wasn't an historical battle and it's meant to be a 'training' mission, so maybe it's ok, but those loss figures make it seem like, despite your queries about night-time infiltration, it was a too easy fight. I wonder why. So in terms of you getting more out of it, I'd be more inclined to comment on how you could make things harder for yourself...

    What did you do with your arty? For me, one of the biggest differences in how easy it is to win or lose derives from how the player uses manually directed arty. The arty can stop advances dead and the player has a massive advantage, I think, in being able to direct this 'fist of God' at will, in whatever concentration he likes, to any point, within minutes. Not real. When I play now I NEVER EVER direct any arty manually, so that my arty is being handled (almost) the same as the AI opponent. It makes a BIG difference (and usually there are still plenty of fires going on).

    What I would have liked to have happened is that you left your intermediate objectives poorly guarded, your supply routes vulnerable and you consequently only got a draw, say. I assume (without any military experience) that in RL you have to be very careful about keeping your supply routes clear, or you suffer. Probably this scenario doesn't quite last long enough for the supply difficulties to bite. But it's a training scenario.

    Interdiction of supplies way back out of the action is always worth reporting as a bug, I think. It would be great if you had a game recording which included the times when this happened, and then you could send it to the Dev and he would look at it, eventually. I have seen this happen too, though not recently.

    'Bunkering down' behaviour and such like - inactive units - will hopefully be quite radically altered (in those cases where it's not meant to happen) with the (long-awaited, long-expected) next patch. I would hope that will be out before the end of the summer. Meanwhile, I have accepted that you just have to watch things, game it and re-issue orders. Imagine something went wrong in the command chain or something...

    What other scenarios do you have? You could try something a bit harder next? I recommend the top half of Market-Garden, as Allies - From the Meuse to the Rhine, which covers Nijmegan and Arnhem. It lasts 9 days and though the Axis AI can tend to slow down towards the second half of that (sometimes going to sleep, I think), you will have had a challenging enough fight by Day 5, anyway. In fact, by the end of Day 5, certainly, you will know if you can win or not, because everything hinges on how fast you can get over Nijmegan bridge with XXX Corps, and a lot of that depends on whether you can get the paras in Arnhem to take and hold the road bridge there BEFORE the Axis gets its reinforcements over it and down to Nijmegan. And - if it pans out as per history - you will only have a few hours to do that at the Arnhem end, so quite tough. Remember to use a rule banning all manually plotted arty.

    Something smaller (but a really excellent scenario) that I have always found really challenging is Overloon 1 from the Westwall pack. As allies, again. I have never managed more than a draw (playing with no manual arty rule), which fairly accurately represents how it played out in real life.

    Others will probably chime in with advice about supply and rear objectives. All I would say is that the AI is 'non-scripted', which means it is programmed to go for objectives. Sometimes, however, it won't have the same objectives as you, sometimes it will also have some 'AI only' objectives, according to scenario design (which may include likely supply-line interdiction points). One down side of the objective-focused AI, in a way, is that you can be pretty certain at scenario start that it is busy coming up with a plan to man or attack objectives according to its own logic, regardless of how the scenario designer set things up. This adds a bit of randomness, which is good to keep things a bit unpredictable. However, it does mean that if you as the player are quick off the mark and try to go for near objectives asap, or execute big strategic movements asap, you may easily surprise the AI in an unprepared state, whilst it's just setting up its defensive positions. Not too much of a consideration in the St. Vith scenario, perhaps, but in the above mentioned Overloon scenario, for example, what the Axis AI will be doing for the first three hours of game time is shifting everything around to suit its plan, and during that time it is super-vulnerable, with very little available arty etc (because the arty is on the move) and if you want to have a fair and challenging game you can choose to play taking this period of 'program-induced-weakness' into account. By taking it easy for the first two hours. Or even by having a house rule - no attacks on objectives or intel-given positions until 2 hours into the scenario. I now always play with something like this rule, unless the scenario is one where surprise was part of the history (para drops, for example)

    With those 2 rules - no manual arty (no exceptions) and no attacks on objectives or intel-given defensive positions during the first 2 hours of any decent length scenario, then I find the game becomes a bit more challenging.

    Oh. And always play with realistic orders delay. You were doing that, I assume?

    Enjoy!


    I just played Overloon 1 again, with those 2 rules. I did better than any of my previous games, in that I managed to get into Venraj, but still only a draw, with Overloon itself hotly contested at end. Note the casualty figures for each side.

    1.png

    Those casualty figures are good in that they're more even, but not so good in that, in history, they would be nearer correct for the casualty figures for this battle AND the one that followed it put together (Overloon 2 - also in the excellent Westwall pack). So, it occurred to me, another way to make things more real and challenging would be to play with a very careful eye to casualties, as if real people were dying, as it were. Then you might even give up and pull back before you reached numbers which were more than historical. That would hamper your freedom of action even more, but would be more realistic.
     
    #2 john connor, Jul 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  3. BarryJI

    BarryJI Member

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    John, many thanks for such a helpful and comprehensive response.

    Steam version, realistic orders delay, historical weather.

    Yes, guilty as charged, I took control of artillery, both the Brigade and Division assets and frequently the mortar units. I did not go as far as TortugaPower in his video, who games the artillery by switching off "Avoid Friendly Forces" and adjusts the target box to the last milometer. You are right, its power and adjustability in the player's hands are quite possibly disproportionate, although I was happy (I guess...) to see that it had little effect on armour and relatively little on dug-in units.

    I wonder if it's tactical realism for front-line units in the assault to favour speed over the expenditure of time and energy involved in chasing down every enemy unit that no longer opposes the advance. Of course, one can dedicate one's reinforcements to mopping up such forces but I wanted to sustain momentum in my advance on St. Vith and meet the counter-attack with maximum strength. The price I paid was to have to backtrack after I neutered the counter-attack, pushing battalions back south to play whack-a-mole with bypassed enemy units on objectives I thought I had taken but which I was not defending in enough strength.

    The odd supply behaviour bothers me a bit because in some cases the abstracted supply units could have found their way through by an alternate route to that which was obviously programmed. And the constant messages about my base units in the rear having their supplies interdicted and bunkering down was uniquely distracting because there was no evidence of any incursion so whatever was happening was off-map and beyond my control.

    One more thing: I looked at the other two scenarios that came with the core engine and had two problems that might be fairly discouraging going forward:

    (i) Regarding Manhay Crossroads I don't understand the briefing well enough to prepare for the fight, especially as I wanted to play as the Allies and the brief was for Axis. I still don't know quite what the Allied player is supposed to be defending -- the unoccupied objectives leading west and south from Manhay, I assume -- and from what direction to expect the Axis advance. Is this actually a meeting engagement? Does the game give any indication of whether all scenarios are designed to be playable from both sides? Does a briefing only for one side indicate that this side is the one intended to be played?

    (ii) The briefing text and map, on a 34" monitor is too small for my ageing eyes. Does anyone know if there are versions of these briefings online that can be studied and enlarged?

    To support the developers I've bought the Market Garden module but I won't get to it until I've played another of the core scenarios. I bought the game through Steam.

    Thanks again for your welcome and helpful response. Here is my AAR from the St. Vith playthrough meanwhile.

    St Vith.jpg
     
    #3 BarryJI, Jul 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  4. john connor

    john connor Member

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    I forgot about Manhay. That's a great scenario too. Good if you read the history of it, I think, which makes clear that the Axis mounted a more or less 'surprise' night attack, surprising the base supply trains in Manhay itself, driving through US columns without, at first, being recognized as the enemy, in the darkness. All this around Christmas Day 1944, if I recall correctly. I've been to Manhay a couple of times, and stayed in a guesthouse in Grandmenil where the owner did nice tours of the very local battlefield. There are various web sites where you can read about this sharp little battle for free, if you search. There's still one of the Panthers parked up in Grandmenil. A few of them got bogged in the fields between Grandmenil and Manhay. The king of this battle, in reality, was American artillery, which just about leveled Grandmenil.

    All scenarios in the game - unless otherwise stated - are playable from both sides. As I said, there's presently no scripting in the AI, so it works 'dynamically' off objectives.

    Can't help with larger font briefings, sorry. My eyes also not too good. I sometimes put on stronger glasses.

    To read your 'mission' as Allies, in this, as in any scenario in the game, you can go off the objectives really. I'm sure you realise this already. Interrogate each objective in the in-game objective dialogue and you'll see when it appears, how you get points from it, when it closes etc. As Allies in Manhay you'll see the big points awarded for blocking the exit north, through Werbomont and Momont, the area through which the Allies thought the Axis were going to come. If you haven't read the history and haven't played as Axis, or looked at the scenario in the editor, then this is as much as you'll know and it will likely encourage you to start doing as the Allies did historically, lining up whatever you have to try to prevent the Axis from steaming north. After that you'll have to read the battle and react accordingly. High points, you will see, also come from the objective of simply killing the enemy (as much as possible).

    I would say this scenario is good at replicating history. Which means it's not so hard for the Allies, after a shaky start, to get good results. Much harder to get more than a draw as Axis. Sometimes very hard. So I would suggest you try it as Das Reich.

    The briefing tab in game makes your orders clear, as suggested by the objectives - deny the Axis the routes north.

    SPOILERS FOLLOW: *****************************************************************************************************************************************************************Don't read this bit if you don't want to know the history and how the Axis objectives are set up to follow it.

    Historically, the Axis objectives were not to go north off the map, but west, towards Erezee. They didn't get far, because Allied reinforcements were in any case brought in from that direction. But your objectives as Allies don't reflect this Axis objective, because it wasn't known. You will have to react to what happens as the Allies did, on the hoof. You will be unaware that the Axis get a huge amount of points for exiting units towards Erezee (though they have a tight window in which to do so). But as the battle progresses you will come across Axis units heading that way most probably, giving you a decision - to stick to your briefed orders or try to block the route to Erezee also. .
     
  5. jimcarravallah

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    Supply units are abstracted to the extent they are not represented on the board, but what is represented is strings of transport vehicles venturing through territory between the supplying base and the unit scheduled for resupply.

    If you switch the lines of communication from "CMD" (command links) to "SUP" (supply links), the display shows units being supported by a base with green lines, and units which pull from the base but cannot be supported because of cut supply lines with red lines.

    During the supply pulse, those lines convert to the specific routes for the supply trains.

    The message you receive notifies the command that a route has been blocked, but is confusing because it doesn't specify which route is blocked.

    The supply system has been addressed in the Steam Beta version of the game (5.1.31) to adjust routes during regularly scheduled pulses (0600 and 1800 every day unless supply is specified to take place only at night (1800). If a specific route between a base and unit is blocked during one supply pulse (or emergency resupply), the routing is adjusted to avoid it, most likely using a less efficient routing, during the next regularly scheduled pulse. The effects of not receiving supplies in one pulse generally are fixed in 12 hours, unless the accumulation of supply blocking incidents eliminates all possible routes for longer than that.

    The interdiction does not take place off map, but is most likely occurring in a location where the route can be observed and fired upon by an enemy unit which is not observed by a friendly deployed unit. Transport units are not assumed to have enough observation capability to pinpoint enemy units for combat and thus report regions of danger instead of the unit which caused the interdiction.

    The briefing is designed to offer an overview of the history and possibly tactics used in the conduct of the battle and set the baseline intel for the battle.

    While reading the briefing helps, the key to winning battles is analyzing the friendly-side objectives for value, the duration during which the friendly side can to obtain points by securing them and their location in relation to both friendly and initially observed enemy forces and developing a plan to either seize objectives or protect friendly objectives from an anticipated advance.

    I believe in CO2 all scenarios were designed to be played and winnable by either Axis or Allied commands. The player can give a side a boost in capability by adjusting the "favor Axis" and "favor Allies" toggles and weather at game start, but I don't recall any commercial scenario which specifies the player should use one specific side for the scenario to be entertaining and challenging.
     
  6. BarryJI

    BarryJI Member

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    How interesting, re. the Steam Beta, thank you! If I switched to it, will there be any compatibility problems with previously purchased modules (bought on Steam) or any other issues I need to be aware of? Single player only for the time being.
     
  7. Tisseire

    Tisseire Member

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    Hello, first sorry for my English
    i will try to play play like you with no manual Arty;.(except for planned attack where i have to set an planning bombard ??) Often i try to spot enemy renforcement road and using long slow rate fire on cross road to slow down their advance, i put it manualy of course ! this game is GGGRRREEEAAATTT and i have great hope for the next update !!
     
  8. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Well, I would suggest you don't manually plan any arty, though it's fun to do so, of course. But if you do that remember that you are using capabilities the AI opponent doesn't have in such fine detail. Which will make it easier for you to win. Which you might be happy with.

    Usually, when I put in a Bn level attack (for example) and there is a Bn level mortar unit in the Bn then without me doing anything at all manually I see the Bn plotting fires for the mortar, once the Bn comes into contact and knows where the targets are. This is not quite the same as a prep on a given map point, but it works just as well, I think, and is more beautiful to watch, as it's 'my subordinates' doing their job properly..,..
     
  9. Tisseire

    Tisseire Member

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    yes at Bn level , AI use mortar as well. It's beautiful too to see a good "préparation d'artillerie" for soften enemy defense after doing some reco or take some good point of view on enemy position, i use only divisional or more attached artillery is this role ! often with realistic order got a gap of cordination between real start land unit attack and plannified arty fire but i didn't coorect this and let's going on.

    At this time i'm playing on MOOK RIGHT HOOK of HTR dlc ! did you kwow this one ? a ggod exemple for how prtotect my supply line against enemy (para troops in this one)
     
  10. jimcarravallah

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    This is a sound interdiction tactic explained in every artillery employment training manual I've read, even to the point where indirect (bombardment) fire is recommended on unobservable but known key transport route choke points as a secondary target if there are no other higher priority observed concentrations of enemy units to attack.

    It's done on the assumption that all reinforcement and supply traffic must go through the location before reaching the battlefield, and taking a chance to disrupt those operations provides benefits at the front.

    It's not clear whether the fire doctrine for Artificial Intelligence (AI)-controlled enemy artillery includes similar options if there is sufficient artillery available.
     
  11. Tisseire

    Tisseire Member

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    yes , i sometimes i use this bombardement tactics for one hour at slow rate of fire with no direct view on approch road to slow ennemy renforcement but not in the very deep ennemy territory.This tactic with a strong artillery well supply on key crossroad, bridge location must be very effective
     
  12. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Enemy arty firing blind at rear area roads on the off-chance there might be virtual supply trucks passing along there? I've never seen it. I wonder if it ever happens.
     
  13. Perturabo

    Perturabo Member

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    Big problem is that AI doesn't do counter-battery and interdiction fire that would be historically done. Complained about it years ago.
     
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  14. Tisseire

    Tisseire Member

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    off topic ... whatever ! : in what ideal form multi player can be made ? a WeGo turn based of 1 hours with phase order and turn replay ?
     

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