From: Tucson, AZ
"Tricks O' the Trade" or "Thoughts On Thunking" (not Time On Target, sorry :) )
How well do you know your artillery?
Do you find yourself surprised when that Kampfgruppe wanders right under your pre-plotted barrage, only to discover that the required battery is in contact but out of ammunition?
Have you lost an entire battery of offboard arty due to a single broken down tube? :mad:
Have you saved your smoke rounds for the mid-game, only to find that they aren't being fired? And you don't know why?
Of course you have! ;)
Here's some ideas to stave off the worst artillery mismanagement scenarios.
Artillery ammunition can dwindle rapidly. Rockets, for instance, are usually one-shot affairs. Some small mortars can empty their magazines in a couple of rounds of sustained fire, and even offboard artillery with large ammunition loadouts run dry after 15-20 turns of continuous fire. What is a boy to do?
Offboard artillery can't be reloaded. One method of extending the useful life of an offboard battery, is to not fire every turn. Simple, huh?
Another method is to turn off several of the battery's tubes. This holds their ammunition in reserve, until you turn them back On again. I usually turn Off tube #1 and #2. This greatly reduces the chances of the entire battery going down due to a Breakdown. If you lose the first tube, you lose the entire battery (fixed in 7.1). :( It also fires two staggered shots spaced two hexes apart. This creates a good, overlapping splash damage pattern. It does not protect against any Counterbattery that happens to damage the first tube, however.
When you're using large caliber (100+), the splash effect is already covering the areas in the reduced barrage pattern. Any unit in that area is going to be supressed and pinned after the first incoming shell. Once the unit is pinned, the artillery has already done it's job. Further shelling may increase their suppression, but pinned is good to.
If you're seeking to kill with your artillery, you might want to rethink your artillery strategy. IMHO subsequent shelling (tubes #1, #2) of the same or adjacent hexes is not accomplishing as much as having that artillery battery still suppressing enemy troops on turn 20. :)
If you come across a really juicy target, like lots of infantry 'supporting' armor, then you can turn the deactivated tubes back On and give 'em all four barrels. Or you might want to turn tube #2 back On to cover the breakdown loss of tube#3.
Your units Rate of Fire (which is NOT what's listed under the unit information :rolleyes: It's usually higher) and the Delay Time both affect your ammunition consumption. By understanding these two factors, you can determine at what turn in the game it's appropriate to bring the reserved tubes back On. Hopefully, by the time tubes #3 and #4 run out, you'll still have the other tubes packing plenty of ammunition for the end game.
Doing this, you can have a 150mm firing two tubes constantly, for over 25 turns!! (disregarding lost Contacts and barring Breakdowns, of course)
The circumstances of the game are also very important. How long is the scenario? In a 10 turn battle, most of these issues are moot. What percentage of actual OB Contact can you expect? If you're only going to make contact 50% of the time, your ammunition will be depleted slowly. How fast your ammunition is consumed, is determined by those factors.
Offboard Rockets and Heavy Bombers are a nearly useless waste of purchase points. But even with OB Rocket batteries, you can shut down some tubes for use later on in the game.
When firing Smoke from an OB battery, ALWAYS turn all the tubes on. You're going to consume the smoke rounds at the same rate regardless of whether you use all the tubes or just one. The only difference is the amount of smoke that actually gets to the target. You may want to keep tube #1 off if Breakdowns are an issue.
Onboard artillery can be reloaded by ammunition vehicles and ammo dumps. A General rule of thumb is that an ammo dump reloads at twice the rate of an ammo truck. There are a few exceptions, 'tho.
Three things must occur in order to reload a unit.
* The ammunition supply must be unsupressed and stationary for the turn (in the case of ammo vehicles).
* The unit to be reloaded must be unsupressed and stationary in or adjacent to the ammunition supply unit's hex.
* The unit is reloaded at the end of your turn, [I]after[/I] your artillery has fired. Your reloads only occur at the end of your turn, not the opponent's.
Reload rates are NOT affected by the experience of either the ammo unit or the reloading unit or Contact with HQ. Reloads are not limited in capacity. One ammo dump (or truck) can reload as many units as you care to place there, with full reloads.
Reload rates ARE affected by Supression of either unit, Ammunition caliber and type (the bigger, the slower), movement by an ammo vehicle during the turn (no reloads), or the presence of multiple, adjacent ammo units.
In multiple tube onboard artillery (eg. US 4.2in mortar), reloads concentrate on filling tube #1 first. There are some exceptions to this, also. Various rocket platforms have a different reload priorities.
You can use the Weapons Off technique with onboard artillery, too. Turn Off all but one or two tubes on your rocket battery or Wurfrahmen and dribble the fire out over several turns, instead of all at once. If you are reloading, this allows the ammo unit to more easily keep up with the ammo demand. Or use it with the above mentioned mortar and double it's effective duration by only firing one of the two tubes at any given time.
Delay time affects both reload timing and Offboard ammo consumption. I'll use the terms Primary, Secondary and Teriary to indicate the barrages coming at the end of My turn, the end of the opponents turn, and again at the end of My turn.
The number of shells that will arrive during a given barrage is affected by the Artillery Barrage Delay Time (0.0, 0.1, 0.5, etc). Delay times of 0.0, 0.1, 0.2 will insure some of your barrage will arrive in the Primary barrage. Delays of 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 won't arrive until the Secondary barrage. Delays of 1.0 and up arrive in the Tertiary barrage or later.
The barraging artillery unit will try to consume it's Rate of Fire over two barrages. As the number increase, more of the total number of shells is 'pushed' to the following barrage.
* A Delay of 0.0 results in ALL the shells arriving in the Primary barrage.
* A Delay of 0.1 results in a high proportion (~80%) of shells arriving in the Primary barrage and the remainder arriving in the Secondary barrage. With low rate of fire units, there may not be any shells in the secondary barrage.
* A delay of 0.2 reverses those percentages and about 20% of the shells will arrive in the Primary barrage and the remainder (80%) in the Secondary barrage.
* At a delay of 0.3, the pattern is repeated with all shells arriving beginning the Secondary barrage. 0.4 delay is similar to 0.1 and 0.5 is similar to 0.2 with the first shells arriving in the Secondary barrage. With 0.4 or 0.5 delays, some shells may arrive during the Teritiary barrage (the end of Your next turn).
Ammunition is reloaded after the Primary barrage. So whatever was actually fired can be reloaded at that point. Assuming you've provided the capability. Ammunition fired on the Secondary barrage will NOT be reloaded until the end of your following turn. This is why you see variable amounts in various units over time. Hardly anyone would plot all their artillery to the same delays every turn.
Offboard artillery plotted with a 0.0-0.2 delay will paste an area for up to two barrage phases. It will also consume it's entire turn's rate of fire. If you delay the artillery to 0.4 or 0.5, fewer shells will be fired in the Secondary barrage thereby conserving your ammunition. This give you an opportunity during your next turn to assess the situation and decide if you want to continue expending ammunition on that target.
With a 1.0+ delay, you can preplot a suspected enemy approach avenue. You then get the opportunity to abort, reset, or adjust the barrage on your following turn, before you use up the ammo. This is particularly useful with air strikes.
On your following turn, you have a barrage is now ready to go at 0.0 or 0.1. If you guessed correctly, or were just lucky, you can then open up some or all those tubes and shell the target mercilessly.
If you are consistently firing with a 0.3+ delay, you'll find that your ammunition will deplete, even with otherwise adequate reload capability. It's because that ammunition isn't replaced until the following turn. You end up being a turn or two behind in reloads.
A single ammo truck will generally extend an artillery units firing duration by 50%-75%. Two ammo trucks or a dump can keep most artillery units loaded indefinitely. Rockets reload at a rate of one per truck per turn (2/T for an ammo dump). There are several small Rockets (BM-8,4.2in) that reload at faster rates.
'Gold Spots' are the priority target hexes selected during Deployment. You get access to three to ten Gold Spots depending on the type of battle (Meeting, Assault, etc.) and the size of the map. During the game, when a barrage is targetted to a Gold Spot hex, the delay time is automatically 0.1. US Army artillery after circa 1942 usually has a plot delay of 0.1 for onboard artillery and less than 1.0 for most Offboard artillery. You might not even need Gold Spots when playing the US Army.
When selecting locations for the Gold Spots, consider where they'll be of the most use several turns into the game. Generally speaking, try to cover as many enemy approaches as possible.
Analyze the map and try to determine at what point your units will be able to make first visual contact with the enemy.
Visibility range becomes very important at this point. If the visibility is already severely restricted, say 5 hexes or less, you might change your tactics and use smaller caliber artillery. Then you can use them to supress nearby enemies while reducing the risk to your own units. You might also consider placing Gold Spots directly behind his forces at the point you believe contact will be made. Then when they make first contact, you've got quick artillery response right behind their lead elements.
If you're advancing and want to use your artillery as a bulldozer in front of your ground forces, you may want to plot a series of Gold Spots that lead deep into your opponent's rear. They should be placed along those routes in or near particularly defensable hexes. Give some thought to adjustment delays into nearby hexes. You might not want to place the Gold Spot right in a rough hex, if you can get more adjustment coverage from a hex or two away.
If you're defending, you usually have a pretty good idea where your opponent is going to slow down and bunch up. A minefield is usually a good bet. :) If you're using 100mm or less, place them right behind where those nasty Engineers are likely to start nibbling. If you've got larger caliber, keep the Gold Spots away from the mines, as your own artillery will assist in the mine removal process.
I'd place the Gold Spots four or five hexes back from the mines. That provides a clear area over the minefield and larger adjustment range both forward and back to cover any assembling forces. Smoke can also be placed quickly to those points and reduce his long-range support fire but not yours. River crossings can be considered in a similar light, by both sides.
If your defending against a paradrop, consider Gold Spotting those hexes in the middle of large open areas that are just begging for a glider drop.
I find that I get better results when using slow artillery (long delay times), if I deliberately adjust a barrage to a delay of 1.0. The mental gymnastics to guess where to plot is the same as if the delay was 0.3, and the effect in terms of hitting his forces are the same. The opponent still doesn't get to move or rally between the Secondary and Tertiary barrages. It gives you the opportunity, once again, to abort or adjust your barrage during your turn, before you've expended ammunition.
Some artillery units do not have smoke. Make sure your units do, before you plan on using them this way. Small bore mortars and SO artillery don't have much in the way of smoke (USA 60mm Jeeps being a notable exception). Smoke cannot be reloaded.
::statement removed after post by BORO::
Again, if you're firing smoke from multiple tube artillery, make sure you've got all the tubes activated. I can't think of a single circumstance where I'd only want a few rounds of smoke rather than a full barrage. The smoke ammunition is used at the same rate whether you fire only one or all of the tubes.
Smoke drift can reveal your artillery units to the enemy. If your artillery is mobile, you have the opportunity to leave the compromised hexes and relocate. (Shoot and Scoot) This does tend to make reloading more difficult and, of course, you loose some effectiveness due to lost shots from movement.
Immobile units have chance of masking their true location by smoke drifts on the map caused by other artillery firing or by deliberately placing smoke rounds in random locations in your own backfield. If your opponent sees enough smoketrails in your backfield, he may just decide it's not worth trying to counter-battery your on-board artillery.
I've attached a text file listing the reload rates and true Rates of Fire of many common units for your bemusement.
Anybody have any other T.O.T.s for Artillery management? :D
Thanks to BORO for the correction of a statement made concerning smoke. :D
[SIZE=1](thanks, I had to get all that off my chest)[/SIZE]
"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible. "
- Stonewall Jackson