From: Richmond, VA USA
First, a sincere apology to the community. Admins, you will want to delete that 'Hall of Fame' post on this subject now.
At this point I am burnt, but will attempt to relay all I've found out so as to save some other half-witted fool such as myself the wasted time.
OK... (can you smell the dissatisfaction?), let me preface this comment by saying that the existing problems in SPWaW in regards to the AI Artillery routine (that is, mission assignment) are really holdover problems from the original SP code and not Matrix' fault. So put away any pitchforks and torches as you read this - Matrix is not being assaulted.
To begin, I spent all of Friday (off work) and about 3 hours Saturday AM running the AI through every conceivable artillery assignment setup. That is, with onboard/offboard, using reinforcement status or not, etc, etc... Everything. Here, there, and everywhere.
What I came up with in the end is what many have posted before - the AI is omnipotent as regards it's artillery control. It is just not possible to override it whatsoever.
The thing that causes the problem is that once the AI sees enemy troop movement or feels threatened, it will override ANY type of setup you have and use the artillery. Let me give you the worst case, most definitive example:
I set the AI up with 3 onboard arty units (mortar, howitzer, rocket). Tasked for turns 4,5, and 6 bombardment. I then set these to reinforcement status for each turn they were assigned to bombard. Further, as a last ditch effort to control matters I set them to arrive on Reinforcement Hex #1 which was also the Retreat hex for that side. Ok...
So I always test first with that particular side as 'my' side - that is, I take what would be the AI side for the battle and see how the AI handles the assignment (all units on computer control). Well, it always does it according to assignment and the units bombard, then exit (are not available any longer). Try it again this time as the other side and let the AI run the side with arty. Well, wouldn't you know...
IF I keep all my troops in place (the AI has a F.O. A0 unit that is about 10 hexes away from my force and 'sees' them), the AI fires normally as assigned. However, if I move any forces, by the second turn (before the onboard reinforcements have actually arrived!!), the AI has overridden the assignments and uses all the artillery at will. It enters the map on the appropriate turn, but does not exit (even thought it's on the retreat hex) and the AI continues to use it as it sees fit.
That is the ultimate in proving that the AI cannot be manipulated as regards artillery. At least not consistently. I think that is what led to the first post - for a run through a scenario or two it worked. Then of course the situation in another run-through changed and it all blew to hell.
My conclusion: neither onboard nor offboard artillery, whether with reaction turns, reinforcement status, even the cute Retreat & Reinforcement hexes the same trick works for reliable AI artillery assignment. It just cannot be done. Yes, you can get it to obey if you do not move your forces. But that isn't really working, is it? I could go on and on with every test angle, but none of it works. Thought this last trick would but not even that one did.
My feelings: I will be overjoyed when CL arrives and hope it doesn't have this problem. I don't call this a bug; I call it a code failure, or really a software design flaw. Here's why - the AI artillery routine is nice as regards it's ability to quickly react to threats - this is necessary because the AI is naturally at a disadvantage against a human player. However, the *INABILITY* of the game as regards scripting in the editor (I don't know if it's really called scripting or what, I mean design control) is really the failure. The editor is great as regards terrain creation and a few AI controls. However, as regards AI design ability, it's probably the worst I've ever seen. I don't think it holds a candle to AoE or AoK or that stuff. Granted, it was created many years previously and that affects it. So I may be just pissing in the wind on this. Maybe I am just dissapointed because I thought I (we) had something. They (SP designers) could have done it had they chosen to, but maybe hadn't even thought of it.
Well, sorry guys - let's just root for CL..
Please eliminate the thread in the Hall of Fame and open a Hall of Shame.
(formerly Gen. Richmond)