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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips!

 
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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 3/29/2006 4:25:07 AM   
MarkShot


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Tips correction here.

This is an excerpt from the COTA Reference manual review. I have widely emphasized this point previously, but it is, in fact, wrong. Although, I think it is probably correct for HTTR (and was for COTA in the early days). Personally, I think this is a nice and logical improvement.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Arjuna

quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot
Note: ROF has no effect on AI bombard mission which is always low. Call in your own fire to bombard at ROF other than low.


Actually this is not so any more. The AI will select a ROF based on its assessment of priority. Targets beyond 3000m from the spotting unit get low ROF, those within 3000 get normal unless they are assaulting in which case they get rapid.


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 5/31/2006 4:29:55 AM   
MarkShot


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On page 101 of the COTA Reference Manual, it asserts what the supply stock levels are that various organizational units go into battle with. In particular, the chart indicates that battalions typically go into action with sufficient supplies for about 48hrs of operations.

I would like to point out that this does seem to be in general true for various small arms and support weapons. However, it is my perception that if you are engaged and your battalion supply lines are cut that you will run out of mortar ammo much sooner than 48 hours. Just a little something to keep in mind while you are patiently waiting for the enemy to be swept from the roads so that trucks can start making their runs again.

< Message edited by MarkShot -- 5/31/2006 4:34:02 AM >


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/2/2006 3:37:46 AM   
MarkShot


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Alright in honor of this glorious golden day, let me toss out another little tip which I just learned recently.

When engaged in very close quarters combat at night in terrain that even further reduces LOS, you can call in fire missions (manual bombard orders) closer than "on-call" arty managed by the AI will do on your behalf. Why? In order to reduce the CPU performance overhead imposed to avoid friendly fire incidents, the AI uses a courser test for friendly proximity than the test used when a fire mission is directly ordered by the player.

Normally, you won't see any difference between what you can do with manual fire missions and "on-call" arty. In fact, I only noticed this in the last few weeks. Only in the specific case of night action with further LOS limiting terrain will the circumstances be right to see and benefit from this slight distinction; effectively you and the enemy are practically tripping over each other. During the day, "on-call" arty would be hitting the target much further away from your units and the combination of arty and direct fire would preclude them ever getting so close to your units that such a distinction would manifest itself.

Read the 530 pages of COTA documentation, you can; but you won't find the above mentioned. :)

PS: For those of you who have too much integrity to do anything that sounds like it might be an exploit when playing SP, you can save this little tip for when you are playing MP with your friends. :)

< Message edited by MarkShot -- 6/2/2006 3:39:57 AM >


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/3/2006 9:56:14 PM   
MarkShot


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It has gotten awefully quiet in here. I guess everyone is holding their breath until they can download COTA. Well, at least, you were all smart enough not to hold your breath until it went gold! :)

Let's have another tip, shall we?

Is it ever worthwhile to ATTACK or PROBE with a force that is hopelessly too weak to be successful? The question would almost seem to be a "no brainer". However, in fact, the commander may reap some big dividends even when the attack has little chance of success. Here are some circumstances when it may be beneficial:

(1) If the coordinates for the ATTACK happen to coincide with a major objective for which the OPFOR is likely to accrue a major portion of its points due to occupation as opposed to completion. Of course, there is no way to be 100% sure, since there is no guarantee that scoring is symmetric. However, more often than not, scoring does tend to be symmetric. In particular, transport related objectives like bridges, tunnels, airfields, ports, and key road junctures most likely will have their objective points heavily weighted towards occupation. (Also, it is my gut feel that occupation points are more frequently employed in COTA scenarios than they were HTTR scenarios.)

So, if your weak forces can simply encroach on the objective, then you can deny the enemy the accumulation of occupation points that would accrue. (Translating into real world denying the use of the transport locus.)

(2) You have significant arty or air support resources at your disposal. A weak attack can be quite useful for developing target lists for your guns and CAS missions. Thus, although the attack itself doesn't hurt the enemy too much, you can wear him down for the main attack later by heavy bombardment.

(3) The OPFOR has not really had time to prepare its defense of the target area. Meaning that most of the OPFOR units have just arrived or are arriving. Thus, their deployment status is moving or deployed, but not dug-in or entrenched. You may be planning an attack in the next 6-18 hours with the use of overwhelming force. So, why bother with a futile attempt right now? Well, your futile attempt may keep the enemy occupied and prevent his units from being able to dig-in. Your later attack will perform much better if when they arrive the enemy is not dug-in; and even better if heavy weapons are on the move and have not had a chance to deploy.

(4) The OPFOR might be prevented from restructuring its units, forces, and orders in order to achieve a better defensive posture. I don't know if this point is true of the OPFOR AI, but it is most likely true for human opponents. Due to order delays and inherent coordination problems, I will most often leave it to my AI commanders to coordinate an attack or a hasty defense. In such cases, micro-managing will usually be counter productive. However, usually after my AI commanders have successfully achieved their assigned tasks and the situation is quiet, I may restructure things by micro-management to optimize my defensive posture. In most cases, if my units are currently engaged with the enemy, I will be more hesitant about issuing new orders for fear of causing unstructured chaos. Thus, a weak attack may prevent the OPFOR (especially human) from having adequate breathing room to optimize his defensive posture for the coming main attack. Trying to optimize a defensive posture while engaged can often result in individual units becoming critically exposed and dug-in units relinquishing their prepare positions as they displace. So, once again an initial weak attack may do much to aid the chances of a follow on main attack.

---

That's it for today. The clock ticks and COTA is one hour closer. :)

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/3/2006 11:25:51 PM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot

It has gotten awefully quiet in here. I guess everyone is holding their breath until they can download COTA. Well, at least, you were all smart enough not to hold your breath until it went gold! :)...

That's exactly what it is for me...I've been waiting on this baby for sooooo long.

I still want Dave to sort out a manual option, though!

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/5/2006 8:45:00 PM   
MarkShot


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How to make the COTA shortcut launch quickly (meaning directly into the game):

(1) Go to the COTA root directory.

(2) Rename the three *.AVI files found there to something like filename.kill.

(3) Add your custom resolution to your COTA shortcut target like:

f:\games\cota\cota.exe /resolution 1024x768

NOTE: You should really view the Matrix, Panther, and COTA lead ins that come with the game. But since you will be playing COTA every day, you may ultimately want the game to launch quicker.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/5/2006 9:03:02 PM   
Banquet

 

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Oh yeah, I forgot about the resolution tip.. this was very useful for HttR on a widescreen display - cheers Markshot!

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/5/2006 10:16:47 PM   
JeF


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quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot
(2) Rename the three *.AVI files found there to something like filename.kill.


Or easier : just move them to another location. This way you still can view them later. Or simply remove them.
It worked for HTTR just fine, it should work the same for COTA.

Cheers,

JeF.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:00:39 AM   
Arjuna


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Yep just create another subdirectory called Movies and move them in there. If the game doesn't find them in the root directory it won't play them.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:29:15 AM   
MarkShot


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Tonight a little essay on why a commander sometimes has to push his/her troops beyond the limits of human endurance.

In general, your in AI commanders will rest the troops when they reach the point of becoming too fatigued to be effective.

However, the point at which the AI will do this occurs while the troops still have something left to give. Of course, this requires you, the senior commander, to get out there among them and either promise them a week's leave in Paris or a court martial for cowardice; whatever your command style might be.

Now, the best way to do this in COTA terms is to take the currently assigned final task marker and give it a nudge. This will then be treated as a replan and if they have anything left, they will get moving again.

Of course, nothing comes without cost and your troops will become even more fatigued and less effective. But sometimes, all that matters is the clock.

I just lost a battle today by being too soft hearted and letting my AI subordinate let the troops sack out.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:32:06 AM   
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Here you see the 4th. NZ Bde who must exit by Day 4, 22:00. You can see that they have failed to do so.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:33:12 AM   
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My failure to keep them moving really cost me.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:34:45 AM   
MarkShot


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Now, here I backtracked (reloaded a save game when they all went to sleep) and pushed them twice to keep moving.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 2:35:35 AM   
MarkShot


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Marginal victory. Enough said.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/6/2006 10:51:13 PM   
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Markshot,
The exit objective looks like far away from any beach. Why the objective is named "exit to evacuation beach"? Do you mind sharing more details on this scenario objective?


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/7/2006 12:34:19 AM   
MarkShot


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I don't know why the exit objective was so named. I am not sure who was the designer of this scenario. The likely suspects would be either Steve Long or Dave O'Connor.

For me, it was just another dusty road to march. :)

I have played this one from both sides. A good game either way, but quite challenging from the Allied side. Here is the general briefing:

quote:


A German parachute regiment must take and hold the Corinth Canal bridge until reinforcements arrive, while an Allied brigade must retake it and exit to the South. What-if scenario.

The Corinth Canal Bridge is the lifeline for 4th NZ Inf Bde, which is currently in a rearguard position at Erithrai, astride the German axis of advance from Thermopylae. This makes it an attractive target for the Germans, and although their ground forces are still far off, they have a parachute regiment in reserve. Corinth is an ideal objective for such a force. Historically, the German parachute landings on 26 April 1941 overwhelmed the small force of defenders immediately after landing. They took the bridge intact and removed the demolitions, but a fluke shot from an unknown Allied soldier detonated the piled explosives and destroyed the bridge. No attempt was made by the Allies to retake the bridge as it was destroyed. 4th NZ Inf Bde was eventually evacuated from beaches near Athens, in a much riskier operation than the original plan, and resulting in the loss of some of the troop-carrying ships.

In this scenario however, 4th NZ Inf Bde is ordered to retake the bridge and make their way south to Tripolis and safety. The Germans must secure the bridge as it will be required by ground forces (spearheaded by the Leibstandarte) already moving to try and cut the Allies off.


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/7/2006 1:22:19 AM   
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Steve Long did the original design and I revised the objectives. The Exit task is so named because the road led to the evacuation beaches further south.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/7/2006 2:11:23 AM   
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Thank you folks.


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/9/2006 10:47:58 PM   
MarkShot


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tactics
Then the supply went on. Not sure why it took so long, but half my force went out of supply.  With nothing left but bad attitudes, my men were forced to run.


Regular supply requests and resupply happen around 06:00 and 18:00. Factoring in urgent requests, you can get resupplied at most four times per day. From my observations, no supply activitivity is generated for units during their initial window (06:00-18:00, 18:00-06:00) on the map. I raised that during testing, but I am still unsure if that is "as designed", but in any case "it is". :)

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/16/2006 12:11:13 AM   
MarkShot


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A little advanced discussion of command line graphics and the game engine prompted by another thread:

quote:


In terms of command lines, it is a little confusing. The game displays two sets of command lines (refered to below as ORGANIC and ACTUAL) which differ from what the players usually think of .

ORGANIC: Based on the estab at the start of the scenario. This never changes. This may be portrayed by blue/green and grey lines.

INTENDED: This is the forces that the player has created by directly giving orders and possibly grouping units. This may be portrayed by blue/green lines. This is often refered to in the docs and by players as the DYNAMIC chain of command.

ACTUAL: This is the current chain of command that is in fact in use at the given instant by the game engine. Due to the way order delays impact the relationship between units, it is possible at a given instant that what the player sees is the ACTUAL chain of command which is, in fact, neither the ORGANIC or the INTENDED. However, it often is the case, that the ACTUAL does correspond to the ORGANIC or INTENDED.

So, confusion arises, since you think are seeing the DYNAMIC (INTENDED) chain of command when it is the ACTUAL chain of command.

And if you are still following me, there is also the case where the AI may form chain of commands itself between what appear to be peer units in the Estab for its own purposes.

And if you are still following me, there is also a matter where the command up links and down links may not seem to correspond, since their graphic portrayals may not be in sync.

We have discussed all this during development and this is something on the wishlist for improved graphical treatment in the future.


< Message edited by MarkShot -- 6/16/2006 12:18:46 AM >


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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/16/2006 2:29:28 AM   
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Another way of looking at the command structure is to recognise that in fact there are three structures being used:

  1. The Organic Structure - or the structure units are normally in
  2. The Player's Plan - the structure units have been ordered to be in by the player
  3. The Force Plans - the structures units have subsequently been ordered to be in by AI controlled subordinates

It was our intention to display all three both in the OB Display tab and on the map using the command lines. However, we ran into a limitation of our ForceGroup data structure. When originally designed back in 1996 we were concerned to minimise the amount of space ( HD and RAM ) required to store this data. So we opted to not store every unit nested in a tree structure but instead assume that it was based on the organic structure less detachments and attachments. From this we calculate the structure on the fly. This is data efficient but it only associates the atts and dets with the Subject ( boss ) of the ForceGroup. So it doesn't support subsequent attachments to subordinates down the tree.

This meant that displaying the Force Plan's structures would soke up a lot of processing time to calc them on the fly. So instead we compromised with the current solution of displaying the organic structure in the OB display and the Player's Plan structure with the command lines. Paul is currently redesigning our ForceGroup class so that hopefully by the time we release BFTB we will be able to display all three structures readily.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/18/2006 11:14:46 PM   
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The way to take advantage of units with prepared positions (like entrenched) at the start of scenarios is to issue a DEFEND order with the IN-SITU formation type. I think most of you know that already.

However, what can you do once the unit has been driven back? At that point, you can issue a defend order at the original location with a rout type of SHORTEST. Why? The game engine remembers where prepared positions are on the map even though it is not displayed. (btw - I have requested displaying this for the wishlist.) Thus, in theory, the unit should be able to get dug-in faster by returning to that position. (In principal this should work, but I have not done any empirical tests.)

Here is another slight change you may notice from HTTR. In HTTR, units always attempted to return to their originally assigned positions when driven off. This behavior was modified in COTA such that units which are within 500M of their assigned position may just stay at the new location. The thinking was that a unit may often get set up in a new position during the retreat recovery period ... once deployed, then why should it make itself particularly vulnerable by moving say 200-300M? I know we discussed this quite a bit while beta testing, since this can throw a monkey wrench into the micro-managing aspects of the game (like when you need engineers to be within 500M of a crossing point). I believe what was ultimately settled on is that units with orders from the AI may follow this "500M from the task marker is close enough" approach; however, single units with direct orders from the player will be more inclined to reoccupy the exact location of task marker set by the player.

{Dave, if you are reading this later can you please confirm or deny whether I have got this stuff right. It seems my memory ain't what it used to be. Thanks.}

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/18/2006 11:22:42 PM   
Banquet

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot

The way to take advantage of units with prepared positions (like entrenched) at the start of scenarios is to issue a DEFEND order with the IN-SITU formation type. I think most of you know that already.



If you do that - does it matter where the defend order is placed? You don't get the chance to specify in-situ until you've placed a waypoint. If this waypoint is in a different spot to where the unit it - will they all get up and assume in-situ at the new point - or do they simply not move (and ignore the waypoint) if in-situ is used?

I keep meaning to test this but whenever playing a scenario I get caught up in the atmosphere and forget!

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/18/2006 11:42:22 PM   
MarkShot


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Banquet,

They simply will not move.

IN-SITU can be used for the situation I mentioned above. It is also a good option for defensive delaying situation in homogenous close terrain.

Suppose you just want to slow the enemy down. If you don't use IN-SITU, they will attempt to return to their original locations. As mentioned, that action will increase their vulnerability and casualties. With IN-SITU they will be driven off and then begin to rally (retreat recovery) and while doing that deploy and dig-in. As the enemy presses forward again, they will find your units once again ready to shoot it out.

When micro-managing ... If you have a small town at a cross roads, you won't want to use IN-SITU with a company, because you will want them to try to retake the good ground. However, if they are in a big city or woods, then one location will probably be as good as the next. No need to fight their way back to the original task marker.

When I set my IN-SITU markers, I will still tend to set them a short distance from the unit's current location to just make it easier to access the task marker later without click on the unit itself.

I hope that helps.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/18/2006 11:48:41 PM   
Banquet

 

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Helps a lot - thanks MarkShot

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/19/2006 12:02:43 AM   
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While on the topic ...

Units in good terrain that have already prepared the position will generally initially retreat recovery in place as opposed to displace. They will be less combat effective in that state. However, this simulates that a rattled unit is more likely to hug the ground in a fort than displace to open ground a short distance from the fort. (meaning the troops are shaken, but not stupid) I believe this behavior was added in one of HTTR's patches.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/24/2006 4:35:42 PM   
MarkShot


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From another discussion on taking bridges ...

quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot

Of course, one of the considerations whether you do this as a single command with a single force (ATTACK task check SECURE CROSSING option) or a two step process with an assault force and a single engineering unit (ATTACK task first, SECURE CROSSING task second) is: The degree of opposition you expect to find and the risk that your engineers will get shot up in the attack. Sometimes, performing the two step approach can actually be quicker, since you don't send in the engineers until the it is safe. Typically, playing on the max order delays will yield an order delay for an engineering unit of under one hour. Being a single unit (and usually motorized), the engineers will tend move very quickly to the crossing area when ordered. {So, in the two step approach, you often start with the engineers held back in a safe location or providing supporting fire at a distance as opposed to being part of the assault force. You can see this latter approach in my COTA Mini-Guide AAR.



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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/25/2006 1:24:18 AM   
Arjuna


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TT2959 - UI - Display Prepared Positions on map - option button on Display Toolbar

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 6/25/2006 1:28:46 AM   
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quote:

{Dave, if you are reading this later can you please confirm or deny whether I have got this stuff right. It seems my memory ain't what it used to be. Thanks.}


Mark,

I'll check out the code next week and get back to you.

TT2960 - AI - Confirm "Near Enough is Good Enough" Code watered down for player controlled forces

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Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

(in reply to Arjuna)
Post #: 329
RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 9:38:32 PM   
MarkShot


Posts: 6611
Joined: 3/29/2003
Status: offline
I have been following the threads. A number of you are playing with MAX order delays and are concerned about command load and the impact on order delays when you chose to micro-manage some important aspect of the battle. So, this tip is for you ... how to have your cake and eat it too.

The example will be drawn from an HTTR game I am in the middle of, but the same approach applies to COTA. Here we see a bridge which I must secure. You will note that the points are awarded upon completion as opposed to being the result of occupation. Thus, one enemy unit infiltrating the area could be enough to cause me to lose the battle. Additionally, the battle is going to end in low light conditions.




Attachment (1)

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Panther Games (RDOA/HTTR/COTA/BFTB) Beta Tester

(in reply to Arjuna)
Post #: 330
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