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

 
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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 9:43:32 PM   
MarkShot


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Here we see the tail end of a successful attack on the Bridge. You see four companies of 7th Bn under under command of Bn HQ who is taking direct orders from me. You also see a recon unit to the South who were harassing the enemy under my direct orders.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 9:46:59 PM   
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Now, as I explained when I started, it is going to be very important to do a good job of securing the perimeter. Furthermore, I really want the troops to prepare their positions, since they are very exposed in the polder. So, you see new orders directly from me that explicitly puts 5 companies on the perimeter with Bn HQ at the Bridge.

Isn't this going to add to the overall command load, you ask? Yes, it will.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 9:48:37 PM   
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Here we see the final deployments as per my direct orders.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 9:51:27 PM   
MarkShot


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Finally, here you have the solution to the excessive command load problem. I once again turn command back over to 7th Bn HQ with the following orders ... "I like your current deployment of your men, keep it that way. Advise if you the enemy makes contact again." How? I group the units and give them an IN-SITU DEFEND order.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 10:03:10 PM   
Banquet

 

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I have found if I want to move a company or two that I can order it to a certain spot and then re-attach it - and usually the HQ leaves it where it is (assuming it has a defend order) but this seems to be a better - and more reliable - way of doing it.

This may not be the place for such a question - but it is in a way related since it leads to me taking command of companies temporarily..

Are HQ's programmed with a desire to find cover for their units, and if so, how much?

I've noticed a few times, when giving a defend order especially, that one or two companies can be near, but not on, good defensive terrain.. I.e, I order a battalion to defend a town - there a lots of buildings and trees in the area for cover but some companies are put in clear open ground. Is there a military reason for this? It's the most common cause for me to take the unit and give it orders to get it in cover - and then re-attach it again.

I do re-assign the depth and frontage to try and accomodate what I want - but you can't be too exact with this to fit the terrain.



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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 10:37:14 PM   
MarkShot


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According to Dave, the AI does seek good terrain for deployment. Personally, I have always felt that the AI is more predisposed to foot print than key terrain. So, in mostly open terrain with only a few key defensive features, I will often opt to micro-manage when setting up a defense.

Of course, the flip-side to micro-managing is you that you have removed your commander's initiative on the ground to respond to events as the develop. For example, take the case which I just presented. It was pretty clear that in my mind the major threat of attack would be on the North Bank. Now, look at the following screen shot (I am back to using my favorite RDOA Classic Look textures). There is an approaching enemy force to the South East. My ATG units who were on the move to support the next phase of Operation Big Grab to the East blundered into these German units.

Now, if the 7th Bn HQ was given full control, he might respond to this situation by shift his defensive line South to cover the River. However, for now, 7th Bn will maintain a configuration which is best suited to repel an attack from the North.

So, maybe you cannot have your cake and eat it afterall. :)




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 10:47:42 PM   
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Well maybe that's one advantage of positioning companies and then re-attaching them.. the commander can then use his initiative.. but obviously if the HQ repositions them for no good reason then it nullifies the whole point of the exercise. So far I have found the commanders leave units where they are - but I'm only scratching the surface of the game at the moment.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 10:48:06 PM   
MarkShot


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And for those of you who are following along at home and have yet to crank up the order delays, this is how it is a different game when playing with order delays. Without delays, I could easily shift the defense down to the river to hold the bridge. However with MAX order delays if those Germans are determined to retake the Rail Bridge and that contact report only represents the lead elements, then I have been caught with my pants down. Issuing new orders probably won't save the day (or the night in this case). No other game I know gives you such opportunities to make a total jack ass of yourself like this series. (and that is playing against the AI ... I hate to even think of what someone like Yakstock or Tzar007 would do to me in an online game)

{At this point, I am going to sit tight. Since the only thing worse than what is building South, would be to pull the line units back from their defensive positions only to find a strong attack coming from the North through the Polder. I have mortars set up (not seen) and will depend on them to turn the enemy back and constriction of the Rail Bridge to turn the enemy back. G_d I love this game!}

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 10:54:30 PM   
Banquet

 

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Markshot,

You said somewhere that you detach all your arty.. does that include battalion mortars?

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/2/2006 11:02:22 PM   
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When I said that, I was refering to the big guns.

The considerations when dealing with mortars are quite a bit different. Mortars are an interesting animal that exhibits both the traits of indirect fire weapons like guns and support weapons like ATG/HMG units.

The HTTR Mini-Guide goes into a good amount of detail about various issues and situations when handling mortars.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/3/2006 12:36:15 AM   
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(HTTR using the Classic RDOA Look textures)

Previously discussed in this thread was the fact that units prepare their positions and that those preparations persist on the map even though the player cannot see it. Here is a visible example of this.

This HQ unit has been in its current location for less than 24 hours. You can see that from the message log and that the scenario is only 1 day + 9 hours. You will also observe that the unit is entrenched. How did that happen? Well, the unit is occupying the same position that the German garisson had previously been located at.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/3/2006 12:52:39 AM   
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Very cool.. it will be nice if the display of these positions can be included in the next game, which I understand is on the cards.



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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/3/2006 4:18:42 AM   
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re positioning of units on the defense. When a force is ordered to defend a location, it will adopt a formation and allocated its sub units to the various formation sub groups. These in turn will adopt their own formation and sub groups. Eventually you end up with a single unit. At each level the sub group will have an assigned location it must defend. This in the first instance will be based purely on the formation offset. So if the formation sub group is the centre guard then it will be offset X metres in front of the "hub" ( ie where the subject goes ).

Then we call an AI function called DetermineGTI(), where GTI = Ground of Tactical Importance. In theory this means that piece of terrain that if I occupy it will make the enemy's position untenable or that piece of ground that if the enemy occuppies it will make my position untenable. In practice this means looking for good defensive terrain. Preference is given to high ground with good direct fire protection ( eg urban or woods ). Where possible it will try and select positions on the edge of covered terrain so that they have good fields of fire. However, all of this is constrained to stay within a certain radius of the original offset. The default radius is 500m. After all most infantry type units produce their most effective firepower at 300 to 500m. Beyond that it drops off markedly.

So while not perfect it does work surprisingly well in most cases. Can it be im proved? Well the answer is surely yes. But doing so will probably been a performance hit and we're already sailing close to the wind as it is on this score. So it's something we can look further at as machines get more powerful.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/3/2006 4:19:30 PM   
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I just want to say thanks for all the useful info throughout the COTA forums. Having played both RDOA and HTTR, think that I'm finally beginning to understand some of the great details of this game.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/3/2006 4:52:33 PM   
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Oldspec4,

You are welcome. I have been at this for five years now and I still feel there is much more to learn. This is one reason why I just recently went back to play some RDOA/HTTR. I remember how I originally struggled with RDOA. So,besides seeing how far the series has come since 2001, I wanted to see how far I have come.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/9/2006 1:12:33 AM   
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I am playing an HTTR scenario at the moment which features an Allied delaying action. I don't recall that HTTR had too many of those, but COTA is full of delaying actions. Well, I just wanted to discuss briefly what is an effective general approach to delaying the enemy when you have a wide open map with space such that you can easily fall back. (My discussion assumes using just the DEFEND order and not the DELAY or WITHDRAW orders. DEFEND gives you the maximum amount of control at the cost of being somewhat less responsive to the changing situation on the ground. Of course, if you are determining the course of the battle, then you certainly prefer to have more control over as compared to better AI subordinate responsiveness.)

Get your blocking positions/line set up and dug-in. If you need to time to do that, then push someone out 3-6 km forward to slow down the enemy in combination with arty. Your blocking positions/line should have arty and mortars at their disposal.

Ideally, you would like the OPFOR to hit this line in daylight and get a good measure of it. Initially, the OPFOR may wonder into it with recon elements or the lead elements of a column in road march. However, in not too long (2-6 hours), the OPFOR will probably either assault your line or attempt to bypass to the left or right; maybe both. You should meter your arty resources. Have your guns stand down if the enemy's approach is weak or disorganized. Mainly use your arty to break the first strong coordinated wave of a full scale assault. In particular, make sure you have arty available right before night fall. If you have any type of contact with the enemy prior to night fall, then you want to turn your arty lose on the enemy. Either you want to totally shred an ongoing attack or simply stun any forward units that are exchanging fire with your units.

Observe what the order delays are and issue orders to your units to fallback to new defensive positions about 3-5kms away as soon as the battlefield is cloaked in full darkness. There are a number of reasons for such timing:

(1) It is much easier to disengage and travel at night. So, the same maneuver during the day would stand a good chance of getting your units shot up and shattered by enemy arty barrages, can easily be done at night.

(2) Darkness should allow your units to get dug-in at their new locations before they encounter the enemy again.

(3) NOW THIS IS A BIG ONE. If you correctly managed the situation during the daytime hours, then the enemy should have a completely incorrect assesment of your current deployment. Most likely he will organize and plan an assault of your defensive line that has become an empty shell. This greatly works in your favor. The process of mounting an attack is much more time consuming and in general covers ground a lot slower than a straight forward road march. So, during the day, you have delayed the enemy by virtue of placing fire on him and opposing his progress. At night, you will allow the enemy to delay his own progress by mounting an attack on a non-existent defense. Not only will this eat up time, but he will also needlessly exhaust his units to gain ground that he could have just simply walked across. In the meantime, while you withdrew your units, they should have had a fairly easy road march to their next set of defensive positions. So, when you and the enemy meet again, besides you being dug-in and him being vulnerable and moving, your units should generally be fresher than his.

Another tip from the polder around Nijmegen ... HTTR may already have many miles on it, but there is still much it can teach about strategy. Enjoy!

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 7/9/2006 4:26:22 AM   
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For anyone interested, the above post illustrated in detail along with other techniques can be found here:

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1188241

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 3:37:08 AM   
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Well, I haven't posted any tips in a long time. So, I thought I would take a break from testing Dave's latest devious AI tweaks and put a few concepts together for your enjoyment.

(This evening's posting is dedicated to Red2112. A new customer of the series who just purchased COTA in order to expand his understanding of operational ground combat with one of the best tools available to the general public. Mike, thanks for your encouragement to continue writing.)

A key aspect of this series have always been the handling of crossing points: bridges, ferrys, and tunnels. Few places on the maps offer so much potential for such a small investment of force to slow the enemy's progress or speed your own progress than crossing points. In other words, the commander who manages to decide the fate of the crossing points will be able dictate the outcome of the battle.

So, this evening, let's take a look at one particular bridge and how we can eliminate the roll of Lady Luck in determining whether this bridge stands or falls. {Note: The game does allow the player to intentionally blow bridges. But as you will see here, it can be done if that is what you want to do.}

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 3:50:28 AM   
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(Note: The Germans are advancing North to South.)

Here we see the heavy road bridge of Elasson (already primed to blow). The Germans would like nothing better than to seize this bridge, since it is precisely what they need to keep the panzers moving South. On the other hand, if we can bring down this bridge, we can force the Germans to have to make a 35km detour to cross the river. Additionally, at least, two thirds of the detour will be over open ground as opposed to the highway you see here heading South. So, beyond the actual distance itself, the Germans will have their rate of travel cut to 1/3 of what it could have been. Just the additional distance and loss of a road would be a major set back for them even if no one takes pot shots at them along the way! Oh, how sweet it would be!





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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 3:58:02 AM   
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However, it sounds a lot easier than it is. The ideal situation to blow a bridge is:

(1) Have it primed, of course.
(2) Have your units dug-in, not highly visible, and in good cover.
(3) Have arty support.
(4) Make sure that the units tasked with blowing the bridge cannot be easily suppressed.

When we examine the Elasson Bridge, we see that we only meet criteria #1 and #3.

In regards to #2 and #4, the terrain is a real nightmare.

We have no town or woods sitting right at the bank which might conceal and provide cover for the unit tasked with blowing the bridge. The ground is completely open.

Additionally, the South Bank, where we will be, provides unobstructed LOS from all over the Northern side of the river. Ideally, we would prefer a dead space situation where our assigned unit cannot be seen by the enemy until the very last minute.

With the current terrain, even dug-in any units we place there will be seen from far and wide by the Germans and draw fire from all over. Forget about blowing the Bridge! They will be lucky to get out of their alive when the enemy shows up in force!

The terrain situation is really a major set back for our plans. We are going to have to get creative.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 4:04:04 AM   
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As can be seen, our major problem is the lack of dead space/reverse slope to place our units. The reason why dead space/reverse slope is so desirable is two fold. First, our unit(s) is sure to draw heavy bombardment from the enemy if his forward observes are able to see our unit(s) and call in fire. Second, the enemy will be coming in force, and once he has identified our unit(s) he lay fire upon us with everything he has. The end result of all this will be that we are guaranteed to fail in blowing the bridge.

So, given the terrain is cannot be altered, what are we going to do? We will have to find a way to create the dead space we need to make this work. What about the cover of darkness? At night, visibility will be greatly reduced and effectively we will resolve the problems raised above.

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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 4:15:55 AM   
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But how can we make sure that the Germans will accomodate us and not get to the Bridge until night fall? We will have to stop them someplace North of the Bridge area and hold them there until night fall. At night fall, we will slip away and allow them come charging at the Bridge.

Here we see the solution. Four anti-tank units and one heavy machine gun unit will hold the Germans from reaching the Bridge during the day. They will be backed by significant arty fire. You will notice that they units have been deployed in a reverse slope situation. Thus, their positions will not be apparent to the Germans until they begin to descend the slope about 1km to the North of this defensive line. This will make the defense much more viable by reducing the arty and direct fire that can be targetted against this line. Also, the Germans will hit this line hard (meaning unprepared) as they stumble across. This line will easily throw them back in shock once or twice before they figure out what is going on. But by then, daylight will be done anyway.

Also, note the single armored cav squadron tasked with blowing the Bridge. Yes, that's right. That is all it is going to take when the time comes.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 4:20:37 AM   
MarkShot


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Not shown here, you can take my word for it ... the defense held up rather nicely. The Germans were suitably roughed up and stopped.

Here you see that night has fallen and orders have been issued to displace the defensive line back to Elasson just in case.

After having knocked around the Germans pretty good and with limited visibility of the night, they can very easily pull out and zip down the Highway and across the Bridge.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 4:26:59 AM   
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Here we see the ATG/HMG units already redeployed at Elasson. The Germans are now approaching the Bridge. Already there are excited reports being sent back to their HQ that the Allies have bugged out at night and the road to the South lies wide open before them.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 4:31:54 AM   
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Well, our unit B.2 quietly dug-in on the South Bank counted about six German units. They figured that the enemy was serious about taking and using the Bridge. So, it was finally time to drop the Bridge.

Ka-boom!

At this point, I am not sure what the German plan will be to try to get behind us. However, one thing I am sure of is that they will be force marching tonight! :)

And this concludes our brief discussion of asserting your will over bridges and the enemy.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 10:45:23 PM   
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In my previous series of posts, I emphasized the importance of reverse slope/dead space deployments and how they act as a force multiplier for small static forces against substantially stronger attackers on the move.

Here we have a good example of what happens without such a deployment. We see a dug-in ATG unit which is getting the sh*t knocked out of it. (It is in retreat recovery and extremely supressed.) Why is this happening us? I have used the threat LOS tool to highlight the lines of sight (of course, I am assuming symmetric visibility with my example here which is not completely valid; but it is an acceptable simplification in this case). What do we see? Pretty much any enemy as much 5-6km away can easy spot our position.

So, that means arty will rain down upon us without mercy. It also, means as their tanks and other units close they will all be bringing direct fire to bare such MG, tank main guns, AG, ...




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 11:04:01 PM   
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This will probably get changed in the future as we (beta/dev team) have already discussed this, but in the mean time I would like to point this out to help you when you are planning deployments ...

Here you see range rings displayed. Green for anti-armor (hard targets) and red for anti-personel (soft targets). However, the important thing to note is that these rings represent the maximum range of the modeled weapons and not the effective engagement ranges. Thus, for practical planning, you would be best to halve the diameter of these circles. In fact, from our discussions, units are unlikely to engage targets at the maximum weapon range anyway.

The place where maximum range display makes sense and proves very useful is with indirect fire weapons such as rockets, guns, and mortars. Those would be your blue rings.




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RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/10/2006 11:49:09 PM   
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Here is one other thing which I think I should add about reverse slope defenses and the advantage that they convey.

As I understand it from Dave, the AI will only mount an assault if it knows that the enemy is present. Also, the AI (much to Bil H's chagrin) does not currently conduct recon. So, reverse slope positions are less likely to be met by an initial assault and are also more likely to endure for a longer duration before the AI assumes a really aggressive posture and assaults. This is mainly because an exposed position is known about sooner by the AI and it can more easily determine the force ratio which it is facing and whether an assault is necessary.

Of course, against a human, I would expect your reverse slope defense to be revealed quite early by a single recon unit leading the main force 3-6 hours down the road via a MOVE order or a very light PROBE order towards the objective with a weak force to gauge the resistance.

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Post #: 358
RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/13/2006 12:06:53 AM   
MarkShot


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{The following post illustrates what happens when you keep playing the same scenario over and over again as Dave tweaks the AI. Your mind begins to drift in strange fashions.}

I have started using the delay to a small degree. So far, I have mainly been using it with single units.

Anyway, I have happened across an interesting technique. The manual states:

(1) If the delay command has two waypoints, the unit will start at the first and end at the second while determining intermediate blocking positions along the way.

(2) If the delay command has more than two waypoints, the unit will start at the first and end at the last with the additional waypoints forcing the selection of intermediate blocking positions.

Well, if you go with method #2 and put your first two waypoints practically side by side, then the following happens. When the unit decides to bug out, it kind of goes no where. Generally, since the unit made the decision to fallback since it perceives that it was outgunned, it will soon end up retreating and pulling back. Once retreat recovery has been accomplished, it will return to the original location and once again decide whether it should fallback.

---

So, basically, by using this technique, you can kind of specify just how many times a unit should reoccupy a location before it finally departs the area. Now, you may think such behavior seems silly and of now practical value. But consider that the enemy may not really be attacking, but just marching down the road. So, after driving your unit back, he will continue his march. When your unit returns, it may once again manage to interdict the road. So, effectively you can establish a harassing action along the enemy's route of march. After a few serious shoot outs, your unit can finally displace (you should specify an avoidance route to avoid taking the same road as the enemy was on).

Of course, you could just establish a defensive position and get similar behavior (knocked back and then retake the position), but this gives you a little more control over what to do if the enemy is not simply marching by, but has decided to set up camp at that spot.

---

Here is another interesting possibility. What if your single unit is given a delay (avoidance route with low aggro) waypoints further up the road against the enemy's direction of march? Can you effectively make a unit that would be serving as a picket to do more than just advise of the enemy's presence? Make it attempt to maneuver behind an advancing enemy column and cut its line of communications? Imagine an enemy attack force where a picket practically side steps the attack force and then proceeds to disrupt supplies needed for the attack. That would be something!

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Post #: 359
RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! - 9/13/2006 9:36:34 PM   
MarkShot


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Joined: 3/29/2003
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: MarkShot
Here is another interesting possibility. What if your single unit is given a delay (avoidance route with low aggro) waypoints further up the road against the enemy's direction of march? Can you effectively make a unit that would be serving as a picket to do more than just advise of the enemy's presence? Make it attempt to maneuver behind an advancing enemy column and cut its line of communications? Imagine an enemy attack force where a picket practically side steps the attack force and then proceeds to disrupt supplies needed for the attack. That would be something!


According to Eddy, he has done this, and it works.

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

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Post #: 360
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