May 30, 2019

Command & Control Rules for Combat Mission Games

These rules were originally drafted with the Canadian Cat (IanL in the Battlefront forums) and expanded since then by myself.  Ian and I conducted a play test with an early version of these rules and you can follow along with that AAR in this blog post.

The goal is to try to instill the importance of Command & Control (C2) on players in the Combat Mission (CM) games.  They should work equally well for the World War 2 games and for the Modern games.  They will force you to maintain C2 in your formations and might force you to make some hard choices, i.e. is it more important to maintain control over a platoon of infantry dismounts, or is it more important to maintain control over their support half-tracks?  Most times you can't do both, a Platoon Leader can't be two places at once.

They are designed for ease of use, and the basic rules fit on one standard page (as do the Advanced/Optional Rules), so they can easily be printed out and referred to during play.

The latest version of these rules (version 2g) follow.  You can access the version 2g Rules PDF at this link.

If you try them out, please either add a comment to this post or contact me directly with any feedback.  These rules are not fully tested (play testing is just starting) so edits might be necessary.  If I do apply any edits I will ensure this post is kept up to date. 


Following are the Basic Rules, they were designed to force basic Command & Control over a formation in CM.

Click the image to see it full size.  

The Advanced or Optional Rules provide rules for a more detailed representation of Command in the CM games.    

Click the image to see it full size.  

IN ACTION:

Following is an example from the AAR game referenced above and demonstrates the Area Fire rules providing an example of one of them (specifically Rule 3.d).

Refer to the Area Fire Rules as shown in the Basic Rules for details.
This is an example of Area Fire Type 3, note that the Platoon HQ unit has moved back to within C2 range of the Mortar team, it also has a UI contact on Objective Red, so it satisfies the rule constraints for Area Fire Type 3 (refer to the quote at the top of this post).  Over the next few turns the mortar will drop some rounds on Objective Red and hopefully force Ian to re-position those assets, if I'm lucky it might even cause some damage.  Note that on map mortars are not considered artillery so do not have to abide by the artillery rules, unless they are being used in an indirect call for fire type mission... this will be direct fire as targeted.

The Mortar Squad had completed setting up prior to the Platoon HQ moving back into C2:
  • The Mortar HAD a Fog of War (FOW) contact on Objective Red for several turns
  • It could NOT Area Fire on that contact because:
    • AF-Type 1 is used for firing into empty terrain (i.e Recon by Fire) (no enemy contacts by any friendly unit) - this obviously did not apply
    • For AF-Type 2 to go into effect, this Mortar would have had to have been the only unit on the map with the contact, but this was not the case - many friendly units had that same contact 
    • AF-Type 3 - It did not meet any of the criteria for this type of Area Fire until the Platoon Leader came back into C2 range (AF-Type 3 as shown)

May 20, 2019

CMSF 2 - Co-op AAR Using Realism Rules

In this AAR posted on the Battlefront forums my opponent and I are show casing a game we played to test some house-rules in an attempt to get more realism in our CM games.  Both my opponent (IanL) and myself will be contributing to the AAR as it unfolds... the rules we used are listed below:

HARD CAT RULES
  1. ARTILLERY
    1. No Pre-Planned Arty on Turn 1 - EXCEPTION: ATTACKER in an Assault or Attack scenario
    2. Once placed, artillery cannot be cancelled
    3. Artillery can only be adjusted once spotting rounds start to fall
    4. Follow Rule 4 for all Area Fire by artillery or mortars
  2. TARGETING & SMOKE
    1. No direct targeting allowed, units must find their own targets
    2. Smoke can be used at any time (infantry, artillery, or vehicle smoke of any flavor)
  3. INTELLIGENCE
    1. Players CANNOT click on Enemy Icons or Units during a Game, only visual examinations allowed
  4. AREA FIRE
    1. No Area Fire allowed on turn 1
    2. AF-Type 1
      1. Players can order area fire on an Action Spot (AS) that DOES NOT have ANY positive or tentative contacts known by any unit
      2. The PL must have LOS to the AS to direct fire from its squads and any squad to be given an area target order must be in C2 with the PL
    3. AF-Type 2
      1. Players can order a unit to area fire on an AS that has a tentative contact that is known only to said unit
      2. The squad leader is directing fire
    4. AF-Type 3
      1. Players can order a unit to area fire on an AS that a superior of the team has a positive or tentative contact in, as long as the unit is in C2 with said superior
      2. The LT is directing fire

Join the discussion in the forum to discuss the rules or to follow the game play... I will be updating the following table of contents as we go along:

AAR CONTENTS

May 06, 2019

Battle Technique - Using Alternate Firing Positions

The intent of this post is to highlight how effective using alternate firing positions can be when playing CM. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a defensive tactic, but even when attacking it can be a useful method to minimize the exposure and thus the vulnerability of your units.

I highly recommend, especially in the modern CM games (CMBS and CMSF 2), but in all of the WW2 games as well to use a tactic similar to the one I am demonstrating because it will:
  • Minimize unit exposure to AT weapons, i.e. other tanks, ATGMs, RPGs, etc.
  • Will help keep your units from easily being spotted and targeted... in contrast to taking up one position and sitting on it for an extended period of time
  • Could have a psychological impact on your opponent
A Battle Position is described as:
“...a defensive location oriented on a likely enemy avenue of approach. ... A commander's use of a battle position does not direct the position of the subordinate's entire force within its bounds since it is not an AO. Units as large as battalion task forces and as small as squads or sections use battle positions. They may occupy the topographical crest of a hill, a forward slope, a reverse slope, or a combination of these areas. The commander selects his positions based on terrain, enemy capabilities, and friendly capabilities.”
FM 3-90 Tactics Part 3 Defensive Operations
It is not enough to find a good key piece of ground however, the tactics you employ from that position are key to its effectiveness.

There is a US Army document that I highly recommend 66 Stories of Battle Command, the first story is called “Company Team Knows it Sector”. It is a story about a small Company Team that using alternate firing positions and a defense in depth managed to destroy the entire elite OPFOR Regiment at the National Training Center (NTC). From the story:
"One young company commander, with five tanks, two Bradleys, and some dismounted infantry, destroyed about three motorized rifle battalions… It was absolutely brilliant."
"They killed a few OPFOR vehicles early on which caused the OPFOR to slow down a little bit. What they did following that, which was very smart on their part, was after firing a number of rounds and killing a number of OPFOR vehicles, they withdrew off of that high ground into their prepared fighting positions which were on the reverse side of Red Pass."


“It just so happened there was one tank crew in a wadi on the north side of Red Pass. One tank crew who had reconned to the nth degree and knew every inch of that wadi. As the OPFOR's assault elements and engineer assets approached the obstacle, that one tank crew started taking them under fire and killing every one of them. They would fire two rounds, duck down in the wadi, move along the wadi, come up to another firing position, fire a couple of rounds, duck down, move to another position, come back up, fire a couple of rounds and so on. So, as far as the OPFOR was concerned, they thought they had a whole platoon, maybe a company, off on their left flank, and it was one single tank that was using the terrain very, very well, and had boresighted their weapon system.”
Company Team Knows its Sector, 66 Stories of Battle Command

Note the highlight added to the passage above. This was the same technique I used on BP 1 during my AAR as you will see.

NOTE: The image above is from a map I created of Red Pass at NTC for the CMBS game.



IN ACTION - CMSF 2 BETA AAR - Battle Position (BP) 1

In my latest BETA AAR which was for the impending release of CMSF 2, I made use of a particularly successful Battle Position. This position, which was a minor terrain feature, actually became a massive combat multiplier for me and the death that was dealt from this position was awesome.

NOTE for this section: All quotes in this section using black text are from my AAR, Blue text indicates narrative from my opponent’s AAR.

Basically the forces involved were unique, I was commanding the US and Syrians while my opponent fielded UK and Germans. Both sides were highly capable, well half of mine was anyway... I found the Syrians to be frustrating and severely outclassed. However, only US units fought from BP1 during this fight.

In this battle, my force came on map in waves. We both started with recon forces, followed later by the Advance Guard and finally the Main Body about 10 minutes in. My original intent was to suck my opponent into Engagement Area (EA) 1 and attrit him there before going over onto the attack with my reserves. So throughout the action, the force fighting from BP1 would change as other, more capable units arrived.

Recon Force on BP1



Initially on BP1 I had a couple of USMC LAVs (from my Recon team) which I expected to be more effective than they ended up being.
“As LAV #4 and #1 were moving towards their hulldowns positions they both spotted one of the Marders that came in with Baneman’s advance guard moving laterally just in front of KT-1. LAV #4 and LAV #1 both spotted and opened up on the enemy IFV which suffered several hits in the side and a few penetrations.”

“Later it took several frontal hits and one partial penetration and internal spalling.

Those things are tough, but I expect it took some damage, perhaps to its weapon systems (the ATGM took what looked like several direct hits), optics, or maybe, if I’m extra lucky, to its crew or passengers.

It was reversing when I lost sight of it but not before taking several more hits. It never spotted my firing LAVs.“
“As I've done with all the German infantry, I dismount the Company HQ before their vehicle moves off to its position. It's well that I do, because Bil's keyholed [LAVs] gets a brief spot and fires (rearmost vehicle is firing at my Uncon B bakkies). He gets hits as the Marder crosses some high ground, and again when it crests the next rise. Damage is severe.”
Note my highlight above... the enemy Marder never spotted my two LAVs, though I am certain they were probably spotted by other enemy units. They immediately repositioned next turn.



Though the LAVs on BP1 did shoot up one Scimitar and the Marder as shown above, they were eventually replaced by much more effective units. Eventually I would have one M1A1 on BP1, upon arrival it peeked over the ridge and...


Pulling back and then...
“...M1 #2 got a good firing solution and put a SABOT right into the Challenger’s front turret… double wow… it shrugged off that hit without any noticeable damage. Good news is that this Challenger never spotted mine before the Abrams pulled back into safety.”

Note how at the end of that video the M1A1 reverses off the crest. This would be SOP for this battle:
  • Move forward
  • Engage
  • Withdraw, regardless of the result
I believe this Challenger received gun damage from this hit as it never became a real threat in this action.
“M1 #2 moved into the hollow next to the little hill in BP1 in order to overwatch the Gate to Valhalla with the hopes that the Leopard that was moving in that direction would come under its guns. What it spotted instead was a Marder moving next to the farm ahead of the tank. The Marder spotted the Abrams first and opened fire with its cannon taking out the turret mounted MG, but it was not a fair fight…”

Note in the above video that the Marder does spot my M1, I believe this was because it was moving into position making the spot easier for the German IFV.

After the above action my M1 identifies another German piece of armor:




“I ordered my Abrams to immediately start to reverse while it was reloading. I did not want it to get into a gun duel if it wasn’t ready… when the gunner yelled “SABOT UP!” and while still moving in reverse the tank fired and killed the Leopard... killed him dead and was never spotted in return. I had also ordered one of the LAVs nearby to pop smoke in front of the M1 to cover it… turns out that wasn’t needed.”


So basically that illustrates a successful use of alternate firing positions while on a Battle Position. Later I would get a Javelin on this hill and kill several pieces of enemy armor, withdrawing after each contact in order to reload in safety.

“...the Javelin team that knocked out the Challenger two minutes ago now has spots on both of Baneman’s remaining tanks, the Challenger and the Leopard 2A4. Time ran out before it could launch...”
BOTTOM LINE:
  • The key to using this tactic is to try not to continually pop back up in the same position each time.
  • For the armored vehicles especially I tried to alternate them from peeking over the crest to the key hole position behind the hill.
  • In all cases except one, my units remained unspotted by the enemy vehicles they were targeting.
I hope this was as helpful to you as it was fun for me to fight!  I will be interested to hear how you fair if you try this tactic in one of your battles, or perhaps you have some words of wisdom to share, if so, please add those to the comments..

May 01, 2019

Battle Technique - Using Listening Halts

When moving a squad or a platoon formation and enemy contact is likely, it is good practice to always have at least one team in each squad remain stationary while the other(s) are moving.  This is because, in the game, as in real life, a stationary individual can better listen for enemy sound contact than a moving one.  Combat Mission actually does a very good job of recreating this.  I will pause these teams when working with others from 10-15 seconds (sometimes longer for variation).

Also, an infantry team can identify sound contacts far better than a vehicle can.. so leading your armor with infantry, especially when in close terrain (woods, towns, etc.) is highly recommended.

If you have a lone scout team moving ahead of or to the flank of a larger formation, then that unit needs to stop or pause for a listening halt every turn...  I usually will pause these teams for between 15 and 30 seconds to give them a longer window of opportunity to "listen" for enemy sound contacts.

Following is a composite image from my CMRT BETA AAR illustrating all of the movement orders for an entire platoon that is scouting the woods they are moving through... it shows built in Listening Halts, and how I set movement on short movement legs in order to ensure at least one team from each squad was stationary while the others were moving.

Often one sound contact is enough for a player to get a good feel for an enemy unit's position.. as shown in this image from my CMRT Germans v Russian SMGs in Woods AAR .  In this game, after this contact ran into one of my units, I moved one team back (as illustrated by the blue arrow and created a kill-sack my opponent walked into over the next couple of turns... no sound contacts were visible so I determined I could leave all of my other units in position.

Several sound contacts can tell you a lot about enemy intent and concentrations, as in this image, (from the same AAR), showing (top) beginning of the turn (no contacts), and the end of turn (with several sound contacts).

A lot can be done with this information.

In this following image, again from the same AAR, I have identified, through sound contacts, my opponent's entire deployment.  At this stage of the fight, I don't think he had a good feel for my unit positions at all.

On the left in this image I had two teams using listening halts as they scouted the woods they were in, but after finding none and after identifying the sound contacts as shown, I could safely determine that my opponent had stuffed everything on my right side and could then, with this information advantage, start to plan for my reserves to launch a flanking counter-attack.

December 04, 2018

PBEM Tactical Problem 02 - Strongpoint!

STRONGPOINT!

~ Russian Defense ~

German player must assault and clear the heavily mined enemy strongpoint through very restricted terrain, time is short as enemy reinforcements are close.

Russian player must defend at all costs and counterattack with reserves, if they arrive in time.

Time: 30 Minutes

Complexity:
  • Russian Player: Moderate 
  • German Player: Advanced 

Game: CMRT

Author: Bil Hardenberger

Download Link:  PBEM 02 - Strongpoint!

For best results, use the CMRT Threat Icons




November 30, 2018

Threat Based Floating Icons

Download links are at the bottom of the post.

When the military uses tactical map symbols, friendly units are always represented by rectangular symbols:

 Threat force unit icons are always represented by diamond shaped symbols:

This set of floating icons for the World War 2 Combat Mission games is intended to bring that same functionality to the average player.  The following key illustrates how this will work.  

Designed specifically as a companion to the PBEM Tactical Problems, this set of icons is an improved version of the Modern Style icons I recently released.  If you don't want to use this functionality but would like to use the latest and best icons, grab just the Playing as Allies folder and it will give you the latest icon set and will work as they always have.

Note that so far I have completed Threat icons for CMBN, CMRT, and CMFB.  Thee CMFI icons are a work in progress (just need to finish up the Italians).  I will also be creating a set for CMSF2 and CMBS down the road.  


How does this work?  Prior to starting a game, I click on a shortcut on my desktop (which I have created for each game's mod folder (specifically to the folder where these icons are located)).  This will open the mod folder:
Note in the above example it is setup as if you will be playing the Allies.

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. If it was previously unzipped DELETE Folder for side you are fighting against - i.e. if you are playing the Americans, then you will delete the Bil's Icons - PLAYING AXIS folder
  2. UNZIP Folder for side you are playing - i.e. if you are playing the Americans, then you will unzip the Bil's Icons - PLAYING ALLIES zip file 
  3. Only ONE of the two ZIP FILES should be unzipped at a time
Most importantly:

!!!DO NOT DELETE THE ZIP FILES!!!

WW2 Combat Mission Download Links:  

November 29, 2018

PBEM Tactical Problem 01 - A Rifle Behind Every Tree

A Rifle Behind Every Tree

~ Movement to Contact ~

Each player is responsible for identifying key terrain and adjusting initial plan depending on how enemy contact evolves throughout the scenario. The main objective(s) is or are hidden for both sides, players are expected to identify it or them in their key terrain analysis.

See the in-game scenario briefing for scenario details on each side.

Time: 30 minutes.

Complexity:
  • US Player: Advanced 
  • German Player: Advanced 
Game:  CMFB

Author: Todd Justice (ScoutPL)

Download Link:  PBEM TP01 - A Rifle Behind Every Tree

For best results use the CMFB Threat Icons