Thinking like an operational commander, unless...

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by Chris Buhl, May 9, 2017.

  1. Chris Buhl

    Chris Buhl Member

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    I have to think like a Battalion Commander. Or a company commander...

    I've been playing the Retirn to St. Vith scenario trying to better understand the game. I really like it, but am wondering how other people handle their command level decisions.

    I followed the tutorial instructions to get started, and rolled into the first two objectives no problem. I started moving toward the Crossroads and suddenly individual German units that I'd driven off started to reappear and threaten (or fully accomplish) to remove my control of the Bridge and/or the town. I didn't want to dedicate a whole Battalion to the problem, so I found I had to start commanding individual companies. Then I had to do more of that to keep my supply lines open. Then more to save my objectives. Then more to re-open my supply lines. Soon enough I had about 3/4 of the individual units in the player command structure (pink on the OOB display).

    I don't think that's how the game is meant to be played? I also can't figure out how else to approach it. After I take an objective, I issue a defend order to a Battalion HQ. it just calls its subordinate units in right next to the HQ and gives them defend orders, no apparent attempt to figure out more important defensive positions, etc.

    This isn't a knock on the game at all, I really like it. I hope to develop a better understanding, as a war gamer, how to think at an operational level. So I'm interested in how players of this game (which seems well suited to my stated desire) handle this.

    Thanks,

    Chris
     
  2. Kurt

    Kurt Member

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    I tend to issue orders at battalion level , but I also frequently issue orders to individual units at times , particularly when I want to place them in a precise location to defend for example . The important thing is to " re-attach " them once they are in position providing their parent units orders don't clash with theirs .If you look at the on-map boss you will see he has a max limit to how many units he can control comfortably , after which he starts to struggle and everyone suffers as a result of increased orders delay .
     
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  3. Daz

    Daz Member

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    It's entirely up to you how you want to play the game Chris.

    Like Kurt said, the thing you have to bear in mind (if you play with orders delay on) is the load you place on the On Map Boss.
    Too many individual orders will overload it.

    The way I play is mixed, depending on my mood and how much time I have.
    Don't feel afraid to give orders to individual Coys or platoons though.
    If its too much micromanagement you are worried about, bear in mind that micromanagement is not about the size of the unit you give an order to, its the number of formations you have under your direct control at the same time.
    The defend in situ order is your best friend to help manage this. Give it to a HQ unit once it is in the position you want it, then reattach its subordinate units, once they are in location.
    Making battlegroups or kampfgruppes is also important to help manage command overload.

    To make the most of economy of force, there are many instances where you will need to give Coys and platoons individual orders.
    • Pursuits of routing enemy.
    • Blocking roads and tracks through choke points, when the frontage of the parent formation will be larger than that allowed by the interface.
    • Microing the distribution of a defending formation into better cover than what the AI has chosen (be careful here as the AI can see old entrenchment that is not marked on the map).
    • Taking direct control of a complex attack, at the centre of gravity for your plan.
    • Scouting.
    • Patrolling.
    Many others, I'm sure.

    To occupy objectives to your rear as you advance, use rear echelon units.
    • Artillery
    • Higher level HQ's
    • Supply bases
    • Reserves

    If your on the defensive, use recon units to patrol your MSR's and keep them clear of enemy.
    Sometimes its better to use artillery and mortars to neutralise stray units behind your lines, rather than losing the entrenchment bonus of your line units.
     
    #3 Daz, May 10, 2017
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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  4. Chris Buhl

    Chris Buhl Member

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    Excellent feedback, thank you both.
     
  5. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Just to add my two cents.

    I mostly tend to avoid giving orders to companies. However... Divisional assets (or from any higher level HQ's) are in my book pretty much worthless unless you specifically order them about or at least reassign them to a battalion. Things like AT/AA companies, Recce units or Artillery are units I like to take charge of. Quite often I let my battalions assault a position, anticipate where they might need some AT support and manually position an AT company in support of the attack. Same goes for defense off course.

    Otherwise if need be I do split up a battalion in order to defend multiple smaller objectives. I don't like it, but sometimes you don't have any other real option. For example in the Nijmegen scenario there are a couple of smaller mostly undefended bridges. To save resources I divide a battalion in three groups. Each group (one even consisting of a single company) needs to assault and hold one bridge. It is a gamble, but in my play through it worked.

    Also, I tend to detach and reattach like crazy. Maybe I'm a little chaotic in my use of units, but I like to keep my structure clean and orderly. So if I see to many purple solitary companies (the ones I detached from their HQ) in my order of battle I start to either attach them to the closest battalion, or return them to their HQ.

    I'm not sure how realistic my approach is, but for me, in this game it works quite well.
     
    #5 Bie, May 12, 2017
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  6. Daz

    Daz Member

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    That's one of the things that makes this game so great, is the fact you can play it in many different ways, depending on your;
    • style
    • mood
    • expectations of how you thought the game was meant to be played
    • time available
    • trying to obtain an historical outcome
    • will to win
    • role play
    • making an AAR
    • 30 min or 1 hour turns (give orders then fast forward 30 or 60 min with minimal interference)
    • micromanaged
    • macro managed
    • at all levels of command, depending on how involved you want to be in the decision making process
    One of the most important things, that makes this all possible is the unique (as far as I know), and excellent, command delay mechanics.
     
  7. Werewolf13

    Werewolf13 Member

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    I believe the devs for CO2 are Australian so I can't speak to how the Aussie Army operates but I can speak to how the US Army operates - well - at least pre 1974. In general a commander does not issue orders to units more than 2 levels down and even 2 levels is unusual. so in the case of a Bn commander he normally issues orders to companies and rarely - very, very rarely to a platoon. A Brigade commander issuing orders 2 levels down - i.e. at the company level better have a darned good reason for doing it and damned well better communicate that reason to and thru the company's Bn HQ.

    So if you're a BN commander issuing orders to companies is OKAY - it's what you do. Issuing orders to platoons is the exception but again OKAY. Issuing orders to a sqad (3rd level down). Even a platoon - that just isn't gonna happen normally but could in exceptional circumstances - ex - telling a Co commander that brigade doesn't expect that any attack will take place "there" so I'm gonna order 3rd Plt, to move over there (normally that position would require a company to defend it) and set up a spread out defense. I'm gonna send the order directly from me because it'll happen now and not 10 minutes from now otherwise.

    That's how it happens in real life (or used to anyway). So if you want to play CO2 like a real life commander try to issues orders 2 levels down only in an emergency. IRL it better be an emergency or you'll be stepping hard on the dick of the one level down commander and that's just not a good way to demonstrate superior leadership skills and develop subordinate loyalty.

    Then again - CO2 is just a game so you can role play it or play it like a game. Personally I role play it. Trust your commanders and just like in real life things don't often work out quite the way you planned, expected or wanted.
     
  8. Raied

    Raied Member

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    Nice reading form all, werewolf13 gave an excellent example of real life commander and idea to improve CO mechanism, the micro penalty part can be further improved, currently is affecting the load capacity of staff, but as said above new mechanism of leadership skills and subordinate loyalty can be added, at the end this game tend to go towards realism.
    Regards
     
  9. Keydet

    Keydet Member

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    The description of the US Army is accurate. But to add a little more, there has been and will always be cases where a superior commander will add a nuance to his orders such as "and be sure to guard the "xyz" bridge in company strength. such an order has no impact on that superior commanders staff. So I do not recognize what is being modeled when when the command load on the map boss is increase by a player giving an order to a line unit directly. Perhaps it is a means to make a player pay for unrealistically trying to direct every unit.

    But I have a case in point. In the Battle of the Bulge the commander of 2nd US ID took up a position at an intersection north of the twin villages. So as companies of his division arrived at the intersection he was directing them into various positions. Completely bypassing regiment and battalion commands did not increase staff workload for the division much less the map boss i.e. V Corps.

    Another example. During the conquest of Luzon MacArthur was visiting the 1st Cav Div. Spontaneously he ordered the division commander to forget his current orders and race for Manila that very night. This did not create a new staff workload for MacArthur's HQ's.

    So what is being modeled by the map boss staff workload being increased according to the players orders to many lower echelons?
     
  10. Kaunitz

    Kaunitz Member

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    To be honest, I also find myself commanding all the individual units when I go on the attack.

    For one, the whole on-map-boss overload idea doesn't seem to be working. I've yet to experience any kind of punishment for over-micromanaging. I've run a test some months ago, actively trying to overload the on-map-boss (and lower hierarchies of leaders) and didn't see any effect at all.

    Secondly, although it's great that there is an AI built into the units that makes them design and coordinate their tasks based on your orders, I found the AI lacking on the offence, especially if terrain is a factor. But that's just natural. It must be mind-boggingly difficult to come up with an AI that performs well when it comes to terrain features? Often, assets that would require direct LOS end up behind a hill (which is often not represented on the map because it is hidden in between two contour lines *sigh*) , unable to support other units. Other units don't position themselves properly in cover or choses a weird facing (luckily I think facing doesn't matter all that much in the game?), etc. But perhaps I just need to figure out how to have more control over the "attack-order" (especially concerning formation, choosing a good FUP and a good distance for the charge).

    On the defence, I tend to give the AI control over my units once I have positioned them. So, when I'm happy with all the individual units' position, I drag a selection around all the units in the area and order them to defend in-situ. This has the advantage that I don't need to micro-manage the artillery assets.

    Although ordering bombardments sometimes strains my nerves, in general I don't see micro-management as a bad thing, as I'm usually sticking to small and medium scenarios, and I like to analyze terrain, etc. The only thing that is a bit of a nuisance is that I sometimes forget to reattach units (or combine them for an insitu-defend-order). But then again you also need to remember other stuff too. I really whished we could chain together several orders (especially a "rest until"-order followed by a movement order).
     
  11. simovitch

    simovitch Member

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    Kaunitz, what scenario were you playing? My experience has been that you don't really notice the effect unless the OMB is Corps or higher. I thought I was noticing a difference but I'll keep an eye out because this is a key element of the in-game command dynamics.
     
  12. Kaunitz

    Kaunitz Member

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    My doubts are based on this: http://forums.lnlpublishing.com/threads/gpq-the-realistic-orders-delay.1762/#post-17861 . The onmap-boss was a divisional HQ. Overloading him had no effect at all on his unit or force delay (until I had all units assigned to him, which REDUCED force delay - presumably because there were no more intermediate HQs that an order had to be passed through).

    So there are two open questions imho.

    Firstly, it seems as if command overload does NOT seem to increase force-delay of the overloaden unit. At least this is true for the onmap-boss. Maybe the effect is so trifling that I wasn't even able to notice it.

    Secondly, for command delay to take any effect, the force-delay of the unit receiving an order should be strongly influenced by the delay of its directly (and actual) superior unit (in this case, the onmap-boss). I'm not really sure to what extent this is the case right now. If the force-delay of the superior unit was weighted heavily, then giving direct orders should automatically come with a much larger delay (simply because the on-map boss has the highest force-delay on the map, because he is the unit of the highest hierarchy level).

    It would be great to get precise information on how force-delay of any given unit is calculated. I could keep running experiments, but I've run out of motivation. Things like this should be explained clearly in the manual.

    -------------------------------
    PS:

    Here is a very small observation on this second issue:

    The onmap-boss was a divisional HQ with a force delay of 175min. I took a closer look at a company (base delay ca. 17 min). When the company received an order from its battalion-HQ (i.e. I gave an order to the battalion HQ), the company would start executing its task (set by the bat-HQ) based on the battalion-HQ's force delay. In my ongoing game, the battalion-HQ's force delay was 97min*. By contrast, when I gave a direct order to the company, thereby making the onmap-boss its superior, the company's force-delay got set to 42min. So, giving a direct order to a company resulted in a reaction time that was 55 minutes faster than if I had relied on the battalion-HQ. Mind you, this was true when the on-map-boss was not command-overloaden, but as stated above, overloading the onmap-boss seems to have a very small effect**.

    I'm not saying that this is bad per se, because obviously, the battalion-HQ's force delay is supposed to represent the planning and coordination between all of the battalion's assets, while a single company on its own can act more swiftly. And also, micro-managing units is still necessary in many cases. But I think the balance might be a bit off here? Controlling units directly seems to have no drawbacks at all - rather the contrary is true: if you control units directly, they will follow your orders faster. This could be changed quickly if the superior unit's force delay was weighted more heavily for calculating a unit's force delay (because remember: the onmap-boss had a force delay of 175min, the battalion had a force delay of 97min).

    [On the other hand, I wonder if the whole command aspect could be modeled better in a different way. It would be great if command structures would still be a factor (i.e. create varying delays) even when the player takes direct control. I.e. if giving direct orders would not represent an order from an high level HQ (the on-map-boss), but still from the unit's direct superior (e.g. the battalion commander). Distance between the HQ and the unit, equiptment, staff quality could be strong and immersive factors here. For example, if the comander/staff-quality was bad, the delay for the order given by the player could be increased (with some randomness), or the order not being carried ut at all (aka "nice that you, as the player, would act in this way; However, your actual bat-HQ is not that much of a genius and did not have this idea). Perhaps there could even be some kind of relative-spotting so that the more enemy units a friendly unit sees (or is receiving reports on by friendly subordinate units), the more likely it is to act upon the order of the player (fast/at all?). Different characters of leaders could increase/decrease the chance based on the type of order (e.g. aggressive leaders would be more ready to execute an attack order). But I'm just brainstorming. I think it's just a pity that I don't ever need to think about command structures in Command Ops. All I need to know that there is some order-delay (ca. 40minutes) before orders are getting carried out, and that I can't change it. Other than that, the command-aspect can be ignored. It would be very refreshing if we had to pay more attention to leader-qualities, keeping up communication, etc.]

    ---------
    *Interestingly, another battalion-HQ with the same command load and at the same distance had a force delay of 105 - perhaps because its staff quality and efficiency was lower - 62% compared to 37%?
    ** The overload-effect seems to be more severe for units with a smaller command-point-capacity, but it's still very, very small. For example, overloading a Bat-HQ had the following effect:

    cap 2/6 --> force delay = 86min;
    cap: 13/6 --> force delay = 102min.

    So even though the bat-HQ was at 200%, the delay was only increased by 18%! I wonder if there is some kind of precentage-based issue going on? Does the game consider by how much % of his allowance a leader is overloaden? This would explain the almost complete lack of effect for overloading the onmap-boss (who comes with a huge command-cap to begin with, so overloading him by high % is almost impossible...).
     
    #12 Kaunitz, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
  13. Daz

    Daz Member

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    In my experience, the command overload delay is not a linier effect.
    Up until, roughly double the command overload, there is a very small effect, of maybe a couple of minutes, on an individual units orders.
    After this the curve becomes considerably steeper, with additional overload increasing the command delay on individual units considerably.

    When you bear in mind that this effects every formation for the entire army, including the AI controlled formations, it can quickly add up to quite a considerable disadvantage.
     

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