The image below shows the position of the unit which took out my APC from behind. I had been through this area with several squads, moving both immediately south and north of the enemy position, but apparently I didn't explore this exact hex. Later, I posted a machine gun team here, and they didn't notice the enemy either. I am curious how much of this was due to the effects of night, but I would go so far as to argue that even during the day there should be at least a chance that such a unit is not noticed. Indeed, there should even be a chance that you walk a unit through a building, and still don't notice that enemy are hidden inside (in the attic, basement, upstairs closet, maybe even inside the wall). I hope the developers keep improving things and follow all my sage advice.
As dawn approached, we weren't surprised to find that the flamethrower tank had a buddy, parked in the next block. Once again, we called in artillery, and it moved. This time, instead of attacking, it pulled back to a secondary position. We followed up with more artillery, and finally it decided to advance and take out the spotters. Ultimately, both tanks were destroyed without loss. Once the artillery got them moving, they became easy targets for antitank infantry, as the enemy had just as much trouble spotting us. Engagements within the city are very one-sided. Either their unit is wiped out in a flurry of fire, or ours is lost. Once someone is spotted, it's pretty much over. Considering the size of the map, I wonder whether I will have enough units to keep advancing. At this point, I'm not sure who is winning the battle of attrition.
As dawn broke, there was a tragic incident. Our staff has meticulously established preaimed artillery zones across the front, and kept shifting these as the advance proceeded. In many cases, the zones have not yet been updated, and friendly infantry are already inside the danger zone. Well, one young staff officer panicked when word came that the second flamethrower tank was attempting to advance. Someone said tank, he heard tanks, and concluded that the enemy was attempting a counteroffensive. In his haste, he issued a command to fire upon every zone, and at least one soldier was killed by the barrage.
The elation of daybreak quickly evaporated. During the night, the complaint was "We can't see them." Now, the complaint was, "They can see us." As another squad came under fire, exposed in broad daylight in the middle of a street, I once again noted another improvement over Close Combat. With the predecessor, one always could tell where fire was coming from. However, now it's not clear. The enemy could be within any of those houses, or that warehouse, or that copse of trees, or that warehouse, or those houses, or that copse, or that house, or that warehouse, or maybe that pile of debris?
And then there's the railroad. If I thought streets were bad, terrible voids... what about this railroad? Wait, are we seriously going to try and cross that? Hmm, maybe not right now, let's focus on the northeast sector, get into that forest and move up the hill.
The game appears to be modeling psychological incapacitation. Of course, close combat had morale, but the troops always recovered. However, I've got one squad that has been panicking all night long, and they are still panicking. They are basically on the verge of mutiny. One contact with the enemy and I'm sure they'll either surrender or run away. I've just got them sitting in a house on the edge of the perimeter, hoping they'll at least report if they see something. Clearly, I can't expect them to advance.
Shortly after 05:00, the entire front erupts into one large firefight. Isolated enemy squads that were bypassed during the night begin firing from the rear, supporting entire platoons located across the railroad. I'm glad I didn't attempt a premature push across. Meanwhile, my tanks sit idle, unable to spot targets and too valuable to risk pushing. None of my artillery or mortars appear to be worth a damn.
As the sun peaks over the horizon, a pair of MiG-21s arrive, hunting my hapless tanks. I request a Kiowa observation flight to assess the situation south of the city. The pilot reports heavy fire and immediately withdraws. Another MiG-21 appears, strafing infantry as they approach the warehouse district. And then another, which strafes the infantry before bombing a tank. And then two more... an M132 brews up, igniting the fuel for its flamethrower. Machine gun fire erupts from the industrial complex across the railroad, shielded from artillery and mortar fire by thick steel beams and wrought iron furnaces. South of the city, we bring an enemy APC under artillery fire, but it simply drives off unscathed.
North of the city, we sweep the forest, approaching the hill. There is no sign of the enemy here, but nobody can be certain that enemy units haven't hidden themselves inside our perimeter. By 0700, we secure the crest of 101, and are perplexed by the utter lack of enemy defenses. On the map, it appears that this must be a critical objective. However, the trees block any meaningful view of surrounding terrain, and there are plenty of nearby hills. Perhaps the enemy is on 85, or 86, or 76? Maybe they have established a line along the lakes to the east? We know that they are south of the city, and across the railyard. Its only 7 in the morning, so everyone needs to wake up and get ready! What do you mean you didn't get any sleep last night? Let's go!
I would guess that the AI has spread itself out evenly across all of the objectives, infesting this side of the map with a lot of small and relatively isolated formations. However, with the dummy objectives, its impossible to know where exactly they are. For example, the objective 6 group might be somewhere deep in the forest. On the other hand, it might be immediately adjacent to groups from 10, 4, 8, and 7. I could continue to see lots of isolated positions, or I might see a very large concentration along the river northeast of the city.
A more concentrated linear defense could be constructed by placing all the objectives in a line, or grouping several right next to each other. For example, if I had placed every objective inside the city, then this battle would certainly be very different. That would be a more fast-paced action-oriented battle, whereas this one involves a lot of scouting and incremental advances. Regardless, it keeps my interest, because I can always advance to just one more house, across one more street, let's just reach that next position. With the same map and the same units, you can create very different situations. If I had placed every objective in the city, this battle would probably be over, as the city would have been plastered by my artillery. So spread out objectives are probably more realistic, as the enemy is seeking to delay my advance and avoid contact. I will be curious to see whether they try to counterattack and retake objectives.
My primary intent with this battle was to consider the complaint about this game not having a campaign mode. I mean, what? Do you have any idea how long it would take to play a full campaign consisting of battles this size? This engagement is currently on hour 15, and I don't see it ending today. By today, I mean, like, literally I could play all day long, and all night long, and this still won't be over. Maybe I can clear it out within two days. I wonder how many tanks they have... I haven't seen any artillery fire, but I bet they've got some guns.
< Message edited by Adam Rinkleff -- 11/23/2018 7:43:50 PM >