CCIP-subsim -> RE: Chechnya - maps and DB mod (v0.5 release) (7/13/2019 2:44:04 AM)
MOD NOTES AND DOCUMENTATION
The Chechnya DB only features the mod’s factions, meaning that to go back to playing with Cold War forces - you have to exit the game, select the default (or other) DB in the launcher settings, and re-launch your game.
(note that only the Cold War sides and eras have been removed from the DB - the units, weapons, etc. are technically still there but inactive and not usable in game sessions. At a later date I may go through and clear unused Cold War entries from the Chechen entirely. I have kept them since the Russian side especially is derived from late Cold War Soviet units, and I don’t want to risk accidentally “breaking” any new units by removing weapons etc. that they use.)
In the Cold War AB you’re probably used to, different types of units might meet each other, with nations possessing unique characteristics - but, by and large it’s still focused on fully-equipped regular militaries going toe to toe with each other, each with a combined arms doctrine that enables them to fight the enemy on close to even terms (with the possible exception of Finland, which had to practice asymmetric deterrence to survive). Chechnya, however, is a very different case.
The two main sides (plus the auxiliary “opposition” one) are not made equal at all, and though the First Chechen War (and especially the first battle for Grozny) did see both sides employing conventional, combined-arms warfare to some extent - there was also always a huge disparity between the two sides in terms of tactics and heavy equipment. The numbers are nearly always on the Russian federal side, where one might recognize the Soviet combined arms doctrine (albeit a bit worse wear), with plenty of armor and firepower. On the Chechen separatist side, long-range firepower and armor are scarce, but the militants are armed to the teeth for close-range ambushes. As infantry, the separatists generally operate in smaller units but have a significant “home advantage” - which in game terms simply means the units are tougher and react more quickly. Conversely, the Russian military suffered from massive communication, coordination, and supply/manning issues - especially in the early stages of the war.
Another feature in this mod is the unequal use of scouting units. The Chechen separatists have a significantly expanded “menu” of infantry units they can deploy as scouts, meaning that they can have some very potent forces deployed forward at the start of scenario not just for scouting, but as ambushing and infiltrating troops. The Russian side’s scout units work mostly the same, although Spetsnaz operatives and some additional mechanized teams can also be deployed forward as very potent combat scouts.
The Chechens also have some unique mobility advantages; for example, while both in the Cold War AB database and on the Russian side, a lot of the crew-served weapons are static and can only be placed at the start of the scenario - but the Chechen the separatists can move the same weapons around to an extent. Some units also have special perks; for example squads from designated “ambush” formations are a bit stealthier, while squads for “infiltration” formations move quicker than average infantry.
Whichever side the player takes on - it’ll be clear they’re not equal to the enemy in many respects, and must adapt. There is no such thing as a fair fight on the streets of Grozny, much as it was historically.
This is reflected in unit costs. These have been completely customized for this DB. Unlike the default AB database, where the “cost” of each unit largely reflects its objective combat value, this is not necessarily the case in the Chechnya DB. Unit rarity is taken into account as well. For example, the same exact tanks are far more “expensive” for the Chechen separatist side compared to the Russian side - simply because the Chechens had very few available, making them a far more precious asset that is ultimately not a match for the Russians in sheer numbers (so it’s probably best not to spend all your scenario points on these if you’re playing the separatists!) Likewise, while the T-80U and T-90 tanks were (theoretically) available during the Chechen Wars, they saw the barest of experimental deployment - which is why they are so “expensive” in the database, reflecting their rarity.
(Note that this is not a concern for auto-purchased units - the DB is set up so that the AI will not foolishly dump points into rare units, and some units like the T-90 can only be manually purchased by the player and will never be auto-purchased by the AI).
In all, expect an interesting change of pace from the balanced, force-on-force combat of AB - this is semi-unconventional warfare at its messiest!
As already mentioned above, units in this DB will behave a bit differently here than in the Cold War database. This is mostly reflected in numerous weapon, damage and unit function tweaks.
In general, infantry plays a bigger role here; infantry units, especially on the Chechen separatist side, are much tougher to kill and carry a lot more weapons and ammo for their size. Nearly all of the guerrilla foot troops have at least some chance of killing armored vehicles, with even snipers and scouts typically carrying RPG tubes and anti-tank grenades on them. However, while there are a lot more close-range anti-vehicle weapons (especially RPGs) around - their actual reliability and effectiveness has been somewhat reduced, especially against actual tanks. Armored vehicles are now more likely to survive RPG hits, especially directly from the front.
Conversely, some units will now also fire small arms at vehicles, especially lightly-armed ones. While these have little chance of making a kill - they will force the opponent to button up, and may occasionally make demoralized Russian crews rout even without inflicting fatal damage.
Howitzers (on the separatist side) and SP guns (on the federal side) have been converted from on-map artillery to direct-fire weapons (as this was the role in which they were used inside Grozny). On the Russian side, tweaks have been made to loadouts - with scarce enemy armor, tanks now generally carry more HE ammunition. Some Russian infantry also carry the new RPO “Shmel” - a potent anti-personnel rocket launcher with a thermobaric warhead. Many lightly-armed vehicles without ATGMs now also have RPG tubes on board that their crew can use in a pinch (against either hard or soft targets) - but only when unbuttoned. Units that previously only had a special weapon (e.g. an AT launcher, mortar, or HMG) have now also been given some extra close-range weapons like SMGs and grenades for close-range self-defense.
In all of this, some compromises have had to be made that might feel a bit unfair or “gamey” - you will almost certainly notice that a lot of ammunition now gets expended at what used to be very “soft” infantry targets in AB, even if they’re out in the open. Tweaks will continue to be made for the mod - but as you play, keep in mind that this mod was designed to convey the challenges of urban combat in Grozny above all. Whenever something works a little differently from the norm, or damage numbers are “fudged” to favour a particular tactic - it’s usually because it reflects some aspect of the actual war. Be mindful of your ammo and the condition of your troops - fighting in close quarters is still deadly, but now you’re even more likely to find yourself in a stalemate situation by running out of vital weapons or units.
MIXED FORCES AND SERVICE VEHICLES
In the standard AB, the morale/training of units is generally pretty consistent across nations and services - and vehicles/squads are mostly standardized for an entire service. For example, while you can purchase HQ and recon formations, they’ll use the exact same vehicles as standard formations (i.e. a scout BMP-1 and an HQ BMP-1 are still the same exact BMP-1). Likewise, infantry dismounts in mechanized formations will generally be standardized.
Not so in this Chechnya DB - formations are now much more diverse, and vehicles are much more specialized. While a mechanized infantry squad might still ride into battle on a standard BMP-1P, a company formation will be led by a BMP-1K, with a smaller HQ team on board. Meanwhile, a scout formation will now instead use the BRM-1 (a recon variant of the BMP-1 with a turret that’s set a bit further back, and a different weapon loadout), while HQ units will use a BMP-1KSh Potok-2 which only carries a dummy turret and additional radio equipment.
This applies to other unit types and sides as well - and even within formations. Many platoon- and company-sized formations will now be more mixed, and some units within them may be quite unique. For example, a company of weak militia squads will be led by an HQ unit (field commander) with a strong, well-armed bodyguard who will be far more resistant to damage and suppression than the other squads around him.
This extends to forces as a whole. There are wide - sometimes dramatic - gaps in training and morale, even on the same side. On the Russian federal side, while the average infantry and mechanized troops (representing conscripts and often treated as cannon fodder) are of poor quality and poorer morale - scout and airborne units are a bit better in both respects, while Spetsnaz units are cut from a different cloth entirely and will cut through even the toughest Chechen fighters. Same is true of the guerrillas, which range from highly trained radicals to poorly-motivated militia. Always check your formations before you buy - even on the same side, units can be dramatically different in quality and capability.
Lastly - I’ve included some units in the mod which are not terribly useful, but are unusual in AB terms and might be fun to have around; this is especially true of the repair and recovery vehicles you’ll find on the Russian side. They don’t serve their actual purpose (since repair and recovery is outside the scope of AB gameplay) and are probably not worth their “cost” in points. However I included them for future use in scenarios, since historically many of them did get caught up in combat in Grozny. Similarly, you will find some special formations in the Russian OOB for the same reason - such as groups of demoralized stragglers, and mechanized units lacking dismounts (or with only a few dismounts instead of full platoons of infantry on board); these, too, are not the way that IFVs should ever be used - and yet thanks to a series of snafus, ended up in the middle of a major battle.
HOW TO PLAY
-In Grozny, try playing on smaller map sizes - 3-5k m width/height seems to be best. I definitely don’t recommend playing battles on the whole 15x15 km map; yes, it’s possible, but the pace of movement through urban terrain will likely be exhausting, and the AI may not perform at its best.
-The Sunzha river in Grozny is not supposed to be fordable - however, if you plan to play on a large map that requires the enemy AI to cover both sides of it, you may want to switch water to fordable to avoid confusing the AI, since there are very few bridges across it.
-In general, I recommend using “Fair” or “Poor” weather to represent conditions in Grozny during major battles there. Visibility was often a problem.
Grozny climate/terrain defaults are mainly intended to represent key periods during the fighting in 1994-1996 (and can be changed by the player when setting up battles). These are as follows:
September-October: Summer (representing a mild period in 1994, when the first serious attempts to take Grozny were made by anti-separatist militias during the Chechen Civil War)
November-December: Autumn (representing this period in 1994, which included both the disastrous November assault on Grozny that ended the Chechen civil war, and the initial Russian invasion in December. I recommend setting the ground to “wet” for December, as it was very muddy in this period.)
January: Winter (represents spell of cold weather in early-mid January 1995, coinciding with heavy fighting in the city. I recommend setting “destruction” to 10% for any scenarios set in Grozny in January.)
February-August: Barren (this represents Grozny in its badly-shelled, damaged state - as you may see on the cover image, destruction, damage and disrepair were widespread. While the initial operations to capture Grozny in 1995 had wrapped up by mid-February, March 1996 saw a major raid carried out on the city by separatist militia - which proved to be merely a “dress rehearsal” for “Operation Jihad” in August of the same year, an even more massive raid coinciding with peace talks to end the war, which ultimately went in the separatists’ favour.
-Russian Federation should always have air superiority in all battles where they appear. At no point did the Chechens have the ability to contest Russian air superiority.
-Chechen separatist aviation: only two instances of attacks by Chechen L-39s are known during the Chechen Civil war in summer-early fall 1994. On December 1st, 1994 - before the start of the Russian invasion - Chechen aviation was destroyed by massive Russian air strikes. As a result, no Chechen aircraft should appear at all when fighting the Russian federation.
-Note that after a number of friendly fire incidents early in the Dec-Jan assault on Grozny, Russian commanders asked their leadership to stop sending aircraft and air strikes during urban combat were essentially suspended and not resumed until the Second Chechen War in 1999, when those coordination problems were worked out.
Suggested force mixes (for both player and AI)
Russian Federation (standard):
(Group North during their New Years' assault on Grozny - shortage of infantry, very vulnerable):
I recommend giving the AI a +15-25% bonus when setting up scenarios - in my experience, that gives it about the right level of challenge!