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what is the best use of the different units? - 11/20/2018 7:05:06 AM   
jnpoint


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Maybe this is a very basic beginner question, but so be it.

I am used to playing games where you outproduce the enemy to win. But this game is both quite different, and I know only little about the military units in this time period. So what was the best use of infantry, armor, artillery and air support in the cold war - I can see that the ammo is limited and therefore important to preserve to the right situations? Is infantry good for anything except spotting the enemy?

Any advice is appreciated.
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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/20/2018 7:12:42 PM   
Sniper31


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As to the time period, do some Google searching for Airland Battle doctrine and strategy, and also Combined Arms Doctrine. A couple very important tactics to understand are bounding overwatch and also overwatch.

Infantry can be used for many things, but to say they are good for anything is not exactly right. And actually, as a recently retired Light Infantryman, I can tell you that Infantry are very useful for scouting and spotting the enemy, especially when employed properly. Think woods, buildings, rough, crappy terrain. Armor favors open terrain with long lines of sight. Artillery and air power are huge, when used right.

_____________________________

"I say again, expend ALL remaining in my perimeter!" - Platoon

"This is JB27, on target...fire for effect.." - Me

(in reply to jnpoint)
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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/20/2018 11:50:55 PM   
HobG

 

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The first thing you should probably get accustomed to is that ranges are massive. Tanks can fire practically anywhere on a smaller map. Thus, you don't need to drive everyone into fist fight range to shoot at them. Instead you can have your tanks half a kilometer or more back to make them untouchable from infantry light AT weapons. Same of course applies to everything. Spend a while looking at weapon ranges and you'll start to figure the basics pretty much immediately.

Knowing what the units are helps a lot. You may want to take a peek at Wikipedia to know what a FV432 actually is, otherwise you're going to have a hard time understanding what's going on. I would also heavily recommend getting accustomed to NATO symbols. They're extremely readable once you are familiar with them.

Infantry is very slow, has only short-range weapons and is vulnerable to almost every weapon out there. On the other hand nothing, and I mean nothing, is as resilient as an infantryman who doesn't want to get shot. Get used to shooting a lot at an infantry squad if you want to eliminate it at range. Alternative ideas are pinning enemy infantry down with HE fire (mortars, machine guns, what have you) and trying to get within 100 meters or closer with friendly infantry. This is usually pretty dangerous but it is the surest way of eliminating enemy infantry.

Tanks are very strong from front and very weak from all other directions. Thus you want to make sure all enemies are in front of you. They're also fast. If you have to drive a couple kilometers to a better firing position, well, that's why they have an engine. On the other hand tanks are practically blind, especially with tank commander buttoned down. Get some infantry to make sure you don't get flanked or that you don't accidentally drive past a hidden AT position.

APCs are very poorly armored and usually poorly armed. But they're very nice to drive your otherwise slow infantry around. Just remember to dump squishies out before the shooting starts, otherwise a lucky shot can take out both the vehicle and everyone in it. If you are sure there is nothing more dangerous than lone machine guns around, a concentration of APCs can still dish out the hurt against unarmored targets.

Mortars are the Swiss army knife of weapons. You use them to pin soft targets down, destroy AT guns and missile positions, lay down smoke in front of troublesome enemy positions when you want to move but don't want to get shot, fire illumination when you need to see things at night... About the only thing these little wonders can't do is destroying hard targets. Tanks and houses have to be dealt with in another manner.

Support weapons (guns, missiles, infantry HMGs) are even slower than normal infantry but overcome the major problem they have: range. A missile can reach out and touch someone at ranges similar to tank guns. This tends to draw a lot of attention if they're spotted. Make sure your shot counts: only fire at a worthwhile target and only fire at ranges where you can expect to hit something. Both are covered under SOP.

You want to concentrate fire but disperse physically. Standing too close to each other has the unfortunate habit of drawing fire.

Use people on foot to scout. They're hardest to see, easiest to protect and cheapest to lose. Be ready to back them up with firepower, otherwise you're just throwing people away.

Speed kills. Usually you. Take your time to position your people correctly before committing. You can't bring back the dead.

If it's worth shooting at, it's worth shooting at a lot. More guns beat less guns. See the point about concentrating fire.

It is very, very important to understand the difference between different move orders and using the appropriate one. Fast movement along shortest route is great when you know you won't be shot at and need those tanks on the other side of the field quickly. Scouting forward using cover is slow, but reduces casualties if you bump into someone. And sometimes discretion is the better part of valor: reversing out of LOS can save your precious tank for a better opportunity.


--

Coming from a RTS background, you should probably discard the entire "hard and soft counter" mentality. There also isn't an economy in the same sense, but you may or may not be able to overpower your opponent via numbers. Other concepts such as attacking smaller force with larger, flanking and retreating from a losing battle are valid.

Instead think of your troops physical positioning. Are they in good cover? Are they moving in a way that lets them support each other if shooting starts? Can I use my weapons at optimal ranges if shooting starts?

Also think about your killzone. Can I concentrate different sorts of fires into where the enemy is? Can I concentrate enough fire to win the fight? Can I use my indirect fire support to multiply my firepower efficiently wherever it is needed?

And finally, think about what it is you have to do. Do my orders support my plan? Does my plan bring me closer to objectives?

--

Using the first scenario as example:

Your objective is to capture two objective areas on other side of a river. You have a mechanized force with ten tanks, sixteen APCs loaded with infantry, six mortars and six scout squads.

Looking at the terrain, west side of map is open ground with long lines of sight. East side crossing is next to a large patch of forest.

The plan consists of three phases.

Phase 1: Scouts creep forward while tanks dash at full speed into good firing positions along the riverbank. Everything the scouts see gets shot at with at least a platoon of tanks. Meanwhile APCs group up in cover near river crossings and wait until no more defenders can be seen.

Phase 2: APCs cross the river and infantry dismounts. Approach the first objective, massing fire from tanks and now-empty APCs onto any defenders that show up. In the east cross the river, dismount and start cautiously pushing forward until you make contact. Since tanks on the east side can no longer provide fire support, drive them all the way over to western crossing and make the crossing there. Then support your infantry from opposite side of the map.

Phase 3: Mount back up into APCs. Use surviving scouts backed by tanks to locate and eliminate forces in the second objective area and along the approach to it. Wheel infantry closer to action and dismount again if you need to. The objective isn't going anywhere, it's more important to locate and eliminate enemy forces so they can't ambush your lightly armored units and cause unnecessary casualties. Approach and capture the second objective.

Use mortars to suppress enemy infantry squads and eliminate crew-served weapons. Once you've suppressed enemy units, make sure you concentrate enough direct firepower to eliminate it. Try to conserve ammunition so you'll have a few rounds in case an emergency pops up. Drop smoke if you need to break contact.

Of course no plan survives contact with the enemy. You may need to revise your plan depending on your casualties, your ammo situation and enemy movement. Or if you think you have a better plan, go for it. Working this stuff out for yourself is the greatest part of playing strategy games in my humble opinion.

I didn't mean to write an answer this long, but this barely covers the basics. Good luck!






(in reply to Sniper31)
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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 11:03:36 AM   
jnpoint


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Thanks, especially HobG for a long and informative answer.

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 11:26:28 AM   
nikolas93TS


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Wow, HobG's post could easily go to manual or to wiki page! Good job!

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 12:05:48 PM   
PirateJock


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Now that's what I call a first post Thanks, very useful.

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 12:16:46 PM   
kevinkins


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Wish I remember the book where they wrote the tank-infantry team presents an all-armor enemy force with the "horns of a dilemma". If enemy tanks focus on friendly tanks they become vulnerable to hard to see ATGM infantry teams. If the enemy focuses on routing out those infantry teams, they become victims of friendly tanks. Infantry can dismount and locate themselves in positions with great LOS and create kill zones while observing the battlefield. This frees up the armor force for what it does best - shock action or picking off the enemy from hull down positions. It's a good idea to provide security for the ATGM teams so they don't get attacked by enemy infantry looking for them. Very simplistic, but for me, is an easy way to remember tank-infantry cooperation. I may be wrong, but I don't think Cold War planners envisioned a lot of MOUT given they expected a lighting war.

Thanks HobG for the excellent summary.

Kevin

_____________________________

“The study of history lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice.”
― Alfred Thayer Mahan


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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 1:10:08 PM   
michaelspotts

 

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Great post HobG - thanks for so much solid, consolidated info just as I am learning game. So helpful and so kind of you. Please write some more.

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/21/2018 5:53:27 PM   
HobG

 

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I was going to link fire paragraph order wikipage here, but the forum ate my post. Look it up, it's a convenient way to make sure you don't forget anything and consider everything important. Last two paragraphs are rarely needed in games of this scale but since we're all grognards here...

Basically you're doing the three first paragraphs.

1. Situation

- what do the bad guys have?
- what do I have?
- what's the terrain like?

2. Mission

- why are we here?
- how fast are we supposed to get things done?

3. Execution

- how will I do what needs to be done?

This last bit includes "Commanders intent" which is the overarching idea of the plan. Mine was simple: let tanks clear the crossings, then get infantry across and put them to work. Tanks move behind them and support as needed.

Center of gravity is on the west flank due to favorable terrain for our forces: open ground, we get to mass fires from tanks easily and don't have to worry about ambushes or getting bogged down. Once we get enough troops there, it will be very hard for enemy to maneuver.

Critical vulnerability is hinted at in the mission briefing: we're on the move and have surprised the Finns. Thus there won't be any prepared defenses and we very likely outnumber them by a significant margin. To exploit this, I try to make sure that I have at least half of my forces engaging at any given time and optimally two thirds. We don't need to maneuver too much as long as we can bring more guns to bear in every firefight. I am completely willing to attack the defenses head on if we can.

Exploitation plan is Phase 3. Once the initial assault has succeeded, we have sandwiches Finns between my troops in the forest at east crossing and my armor at west. They can't maneuver without coming under fire immediately and I can mass more guns into any battle than they can. My weaker force is safely entrenched in forest, good terrain to defend against enemy counter-attacks. We take our time, locate and destroy remaining forces piecemeal and capture the second objective.

Endstate is me having a functional fighting force in command of both objectives while most FDF forces are destroyed, rendered ineffective or routed.

--

Why work this stuff out for yourself when you can just do what the professionals do. :)

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 1:05:17 AM   
exsonic01

 

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On top of HobG's excellent posts, I wish to share a small tip of mine. Use your recons wisely, and take a good care of your recons, don't just throw them into enemy fire. Recon is universally important in any wargames, even in real-life training and exercise.

1) Better recon then enemy, but kill enemy recon on sight at all cost, with extreme prejudice .
=> 2) Gather more information than enemy recon
=> 3) Better information of enemy unit, than the information of enemy commander have regarding your unit. You know what your opponent is doing with what units, but your opponent may not know about your unit, and he may even don't know you figure about his units.
=> 4) Use this information asymmetry to set up your plan. Those information from recon will be the guideline for the five paragraph order HobG mentioned in above post.
=> 5) Profit You can call artillery, or airstrike, or you can prepare your defense, or you can set up flanking route against enemy static defense, or etc...
Here, "information" will be the knowledge of where and what are enemy defense / offense units you are against.

I usually buy a lot of dismounted infantry, and infiltrate them as much as possible to critical locations, but leave some of them to hide in important concealed high ground, such as treeline and building. Recon infantry have limited chance to success infiltration in this game, so don't infiltrate all of your recon team. Because if they fail to infiltrate, they are randomly placed in AO, usually the place of no value. Depending on map, mix the ratio of infiltrate / hide of your recon infantry. Meanwhile, it is good to have small number of recon vehicles, since they have some mobility which recon infantry can't have.

Also, before start game, turn off their (recon infantry) weapon against hard and soft target from SOP. Don't make them engage against enemy, even though they are really close. If you hide them in nicely concealed place, just leave them. If you think they will face some danger, than you may move them with scout command from "cover" move from SOP, far earlier before make contact. On the other hand, for recon vehicles, it would be better to set effective range to enemy units in SOP.

Kill enemy recon at all cost if you see them. You need some aggressiveness to kill enemy recon. Sometimes I even use a little of DPICM, or expose my tank's position to shoot from better position, just to kill enemy recons. If recons see your tanks or any units in defense, he will call DPICM on top of your tank's head. He could call FASCAM on maneuvering route of your units if you are moving to enemy position. With his recon, he will prepare his defense or offense against your units. So, make them blind against your unit. Remind what happened to confederate army in Gettysburg, when Gen. Stuart's cavalry failed to provide enough information to Gen. Lee.

This is very important for PBEM or any human to human multiplay for any wargames. But this is equally important against AI of this game or any other game. If their BRDM saw your dug-in M1A1 HA near VP during this game, what will happen? You will get DPICM shower for free, and your tanks will wrecked or at least heavily damaged.

< Message edited by exsonic01 -- 11/22/2018 1:36:09 AM >

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 2:16:45 AM   
blackcloud6


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quote:

ORIGINAL: exsonic01

Use your recons wisely, and take a good care of your recons, don't just throw them into enemy fire. Recon is universally important in any wargames, even in real-life training and exercise.

1) Better recon then enemy, but kill enemy recon on sight at all cost, with extreme prejudice .

Kill enemy recon at all cost if you see them. You need some aggressiveness to kill enemy recon. Sometimes I even use a little of DPICM, or expose my tank's position to shoot from better position, just to kill enemy recons. If recons see your tanks or any units in defense, he will call DPICM on top of your tank's head. He could call FASCAM on maneuvering route of your units if you are moving to enemy position. With his recon, he will prepare his defense or offense against your units. So, make them blind against your unit. Remind what happened to confederate army in Gettysburg, when Gen. Stuart's cavalry failed to provide enough information to Gen. Lee.


Agree. In the mid to late 1980s The US Army developed from NTC experience the concept of the Recon/Counter-recon battle. This was a fight between the Cave Scouts and Cav units against the Soviet Recon units. The idea was to strip away the enemy's recon assets and then put your own to use. blind him while seeing as much as you can.

quote:

Also, before start game, turn off their (recon infantry) weapon against hard and soft target from SOP. Don't make them engage against enemy, even though they are really close.


I tried this today and the recon units simply got killed. Now they were PT-76 recon tanks but i thought they would hold fire, report and then I could pull them back. They simply got detected and killed.

Now what AB needs is some SOPs for scouts/recon units. One sorely needed is to have them reverse back into a hide position after spotting the bad guys.


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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 2:34:32 AM   
exsonic01

 

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quote:


I tried this today and the recon units simply got killed. Now they were PT-76 recon tanks but i thought they would hold fire, report and then I could pull them back. They simply got detected and killed.

Well, I think you were a bit unlucky. Usually if I hide my recons in buildings or treeline, they survive quite a while, even they survive undetected until the end of the game. But whether we hide them or not, we don't need to shoot them and let them know about our recon's position. Recon teams in this game only have rifle and nades, it wouldn't be helpful to fight against vehicles anyway. So I usually always make recon infantry not to shoot anything.
quote:


Now what AB needs is some SOPs for scouts/recon units. One sorely needed is to have them reverse back into a hide position after spotting the bad guys.

You can use scout command to move to try something similar. If units make contact during scout move, they immediately hide. Also, in this game, basic cell size is 30m x 30m, and lots of actions are abstracted within 30m x 30m. This game cannot depict tiny detail of infantry like Close Combat or Combat Mission do, due to this abstracted description. But that abstraction is the key of this game to depict the wider battlefield than CC or CM.

< Message edited by exsonic01 -- 11/22/2018 2:35:39 AM >

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 4:58:15 AM   
HobG

 

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The recon company is an interesting beast. You should have the full complement if you intend to use historical tactics. Otherwise a platoon of dismounted infantry will have to do. We already know that infantry can slowly creep very close to enemy without being seen, especially in favorable terrain. But what about the rest of the recon company?

Back in 1950s recon started to get heavy weapons for the first time. PT-76 is the epitome of this, a light amphibious tank that exists almost solely to lend scouts firepower against other light recon forces. It is not capable of stealth and should not be used when heavier enemy forces are expected. As time goes on, more specialized vehicles join in with special equipment such as ground radars. Once IFVs started to enter the battlefield, most recon companies have been refitted with recon versions of them. This also solves the problem of separate fire support and infantry carrying vehicles, meaning more bang for your buck.

In game terms, this means in a small scale battle you should still creep forward with infantry and light vehicles (currently mostly not in the game as far as I can tell, such as bicycles, motorcycles and jeeps). This is the "last hundred yards" and is typically very dangerous: expect casualties. You also have BTRs for fast movement if such is needed. Sometimes it is, for example when racing to key terrain or when you intend to execute a wide flanking movement to get eyes on. When you encounter other scouts, bring your integrated support. While it can't beat tanks, it's still a formidable threat to jeeps and light infantry. When you hit the main body, note its location and pull back if you start drawing fire. Optimal situation is being able to observe enemy positions unnoticed.

Note that a recon platoon can punch way above its weight if it is supported by field artillery or CAS. Being able to accurately target troop concentrations without being seen is a nightmare for the enemy. Don't dismiss your mortars, either. Their ability to quickly and accurately place smoke may prove invaluable, whether you're moving forward or backward.

In larger scale engagements recon is fundamental for locating enemy main body and preventing enemy scouts from doing the same. Exsonic01 has the correct idea, "recon battle" can decide the main battle before it has started. When working on operational level mobility is much more important as distances are larger.




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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 8:51:27 AM   
jnpoint


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This is exactly why I asked here instead of discord for example. There are so many knowing a lot about war and how to act and react on a battlefield. It's just great, many many thanks to all of you.

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 9:07:15 AM   
PoorOldSpike


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jnpoint

..Is infantry good for anything except spotting the enemy?..



Your infantry in defensive cover on the objective are very hard to spot and winkle out, so they're great ambushers because they usually get to fire first...:)
("Whoever fires first, wins"- Israeli Army doctrine 1960's/70's)
Also, a typical infantry platoon contains bazooka-type weapons, so woe betide any enemy armour that comes snooping around.
Even better, there are specialist infantry anti-tank teams armed with longer-ranged powerful AT missiles.
("Victory goes to the first side to plaster the enemy with fire"- Erwin Rommel)

Your infantry in advancing APC's are more likely to take casualties as they race towards enemy territory, but if you've got tanks accompanying them to return fire, losses will be reduced, especially if you call in a smoke barrage to blind the enemy.
(Infantry attacking on foot are too slow to cover a lot of ground so APC's are needed to get them up to the enemy)
When you debark your infantry near the enemy the trick is to have more units than the enemy has got so that you overwhelm him by sheer numbers in that sector, he can't argue with the maths..:)
("Infanterie, du bist die Krone aller waffen"- German marching song ("Infantry, you are the King of arms")

"Never fear to use massive overwhelming firepower, let the fear be your enemies"- PoorOldSpike






< Message edited by PoorOldSpike -- 11/22/2018 9:10:53 AM >

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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 12:18:41 PM   
kevinkins


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An observation: recon is critical in one sense since it looks like you need to have eyes on a TRP to target it. The TRP does not allow for map coordinate only arty fire - unless I have not figure that out yet. I have been playing at Fort Irwin exclusively to learn game mechanics. That battlefield forces you to learn to read map topography and understand where good positions are and how long it takes to get into them. With no other terrain, topography rules. This might pay big dividends when I move my play to Germany.

Kevin

_____________________________

“The study of history lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice.”
― Alfred Thayer Mahan


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RE: what is the best use of the different units? - 11/22/2018 2:40:16 PM   
Sniper31


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quote:

ORIGINAL: kevinkin

An observation: recon is critical in one sense since it looks like you need to have eyes on a TRP to target it. The TRP does not allow for map coordinate only arty fire - unless I have not figure that out yet. I have been playing at Fort Irwin exclusively to learn game mechanics. That battlefield forces you to learn to read map topography and understand where good positions are and how long it takes to get into them. With no other terrain, topography rules. This might pay big dividends when I move my play to Germany.

Kevin


This is exactly what I have been doing...one would think after 28 years in the U.S. Army that I would have tired of training at Ft. Irwin. Truth be told, as you have pointed out, it is a beneficial method to learn this game and train for the actual 'virtual' battlefields in this game ;)

_____________________________

"I say again, expend ALL remaining in my perimeter!" - Platoon

"This is JB27, on target...fire for effect.." - Me

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