AI handles all hex combat as a “blop”. It is not programmed to handle phased combat. It plays stack-to-stack. BigBabes pulls out arty from some units so arty can be used as it was without rendering “other” units vulnerable to counter-battery. BigBabes has much more robust and realistic combat system, but it must be implemented manually (H2H or PBEM); AI can’t do it, don’t know how.
I take your general points, but can you elaborate on the one above? Are we talking about bombardment attacks, or something different? I don't think it's a change that's necessarily apparent to players - Shore Parties and the like are easy enough to understand the role changes, they're pretty much forced onto you, but this one may have been subtle enough to slip by most people.
I suspect a lot of us who aren't able to commit to PBEM or H2H play are willing to accept the limitations on playing Big Babes against the AI. It may not be ideal, but it's the only game in town if you want the extra levels of detail that Big Babes brought us.
Finally figured out what you were asking; must be getting old.
Phased combat includes bombardment, but it also includes the other stuff. Couple caveats, we mostly configure for the Pacific part of War in the Pacific. Don't pay much attention to collision of mass armys on a land mass like China. Engine is not at it's best for that scale. Also, we've been tweaking heavily for our small map scenarios (DEI, PI, Guad, OP FS). The BigBabes TO&Es are more "stock-like" than the stuff for our CPX games. Having said that:
Our division is an HQ unit. It has 3 Rgts (duh) and the arty split out as Bns; no recombine. Japan is the same except where it has a Cav or Recce unit; that is also split out as a separate Bn. This works well for Pacific island, DEI, PI type operations. In a game stack, of division scale, you might have 1 Rgt set to attack, 1 Rgt set to pursue, 1 Rgt resting, 2x 105 and 1x 155 Bns bombarding, and the last 105 Bn either set to pursue or rest.
Bombardment comes first, and counter-battery is limited; it doesn't whack the whole stack and cause those wierd imbalances. Attack comes next, but the Rgts still have their TOE regimental arty, so they get the firepower push. Resolve the attack, see wha'hoppen, if ya win, a kinda-sorta reserve (the pursuit) unit takes over, and the process repeats (think self-sharpening chain saw)
AI isn't programmed to think in these terms. If ya think on it, the engine works according to GG's original concept. In that, divisions are broken into 3 equal pieces (A, B, C) each with a proportional allocation of DivArty. So bombardment is by whole divisions or regiments ('cause that's where the guns are), not by arty units. So counter-battery effects whole divisions or regiments. The AI is not a separate implementation routine. The different bits of it are embedded in every single one of the hundreds of sub-routines and algorithms. That's what makes code tweaking so heartbreaking; try to spray for a couple dandelions and you end up killing the azaleas too.
Think so far as BigBabes is concerned the AI, doing stack attacks, is kinda ok. I mean, it has to be ok, 'cause that's all it knows. But whatever manual side you play, you might want to try phasing.