In the first installment, I discussed ways to employ artillery. So before anyone gets the idea that artillery is invincible, I thought I would talk about how it can be defeated, or at least neutralized. I have already seen it written elsewhere that IOE is all about discovering that long range artillery is "the key to everything", and while you must always keep it in mind, it is far from omnipotent.
The discussion here will focus on the idea of suppression, which is really just developing a strategy to counter a specific threat. This concept does not apply solely to artillery as we'll see later. In IOE, it will often be wise to dedicate a unit or two to the suppression mission, and the most obvious choice for this in the case of artillery suppression, would be air units because they are not vulnerable to artillery and can move quickly to locate firing units.
Though it might seem like artillery can hit the entire board, the actual range of artillery is only 40 squares. And it is important to remember that artillery must be at least six squares away from a target to fire, which makes artillery units particularly vulnerable to close assault by ground units. When an artillery round comes in on your position, use an air unit to back-track along the path of the incoming round until that nasty mortar or rocket launcher is located. You can then use your own artillery to attack or "suppress" the offending unit. While you could use the air unit to do the killing, unless it is an advanced unit or you have a group of fighters, you may find that too much damage is done in the time it takes the air unit to neutralize the target.
In the early missions of IOE, this tactic will usually prove sufficient, but as you might guess, the enemy will start to counter this strategy by placing engineer units near the artillery units to defend against air attack. Engineers (or sappers) are primarily for building bases, but they are also the only ground units which can attack air units. And they are very effective as one or two, especially at the higher experience levels, can make short work of fighters. So ultimately, your suppression team should be capable of a dual role. They must be able to suppress both the artillery AND the anti-aircraft units that guard them. Alternatively, you could have separate teams dedicated to suppressing each type of unit.
This dual suppression mission will probably still start out with the fighter back-tracking the artillery fire to it's source, but then it should probably back off before the anti-aircraft fire can carve it up since it has accomplished the mission of locating the firing unit. Then a follow-on team, probably of ground units loaded on a transport, should land nearby to move in for the kill. Since the engineers cannot attack ground units, this team should try to move quickly inside the artillery unit's minimum range. If defending ground units are also present, then grunts should take advantage of their superior sight range (six squares) to act as spotters for friendly artillery. Any high ground nearby should be used as a vantage point to prevent line-of-sight obstruction by intervening obstacles.
There is one other advantage which fighters have over ground units that could be of particular use in the suppression mission. Fighters can mask themselves from the view of ground units on low terrain by hovering over trees or cliffs. This represents the ability of helicopters to "terrain mask" by using ground obstacles as barriers to vision, and then popping up occasionally to take quick looks at enemy positions. Use the "hold" command to make sure your fighters don't move themselves out of cover while your attention is elsewhere. This "terrain masking" will not work against units on high ground, or if an enemy air unit is present to act as a spotter for the ground units.
It is my hope that players will develop other methods of conducting suppression such that they might be able to throttle me if we ever met in a multi-player game. In this event, I would have met one of my primary design goals of making the game responsive to the employment of a wide range of tactics that may not have been envisioned beforehand.
"We have found the enemy, and he is us!"