Inside the combat black box

Gary Grigsby’s War in the West 1943-45 is the most ambitious and detailed computer wargame on the Western Front of World War II ever made. Starting with the Summer 1943 invasions of Sicily and Italy and proceeding through the invasions of France and the drive into Germany, War in the West brings you all the Allied campaigns in Western Europe and the capability to re-fight the Western Front according to your plan.

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dnguyen528
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Inside the combat black box

Post by dnguyen528 »

I've been playing breakout and pursuit, and have completely ignored my normal micro-managing instincts; auto air-ad, blasting holes, and exploiting where possible and shuffling rail repair units forward. Once I let go of trying to understand what was going on, I've had the best time I've ever had with this game. At the risk of ruining all the fun that I've had, I have to say that there is still one little itch inside my brain which wants to see inside that secret black box of air and ground combat. While this question probably gets asked in one form or another all the time(so I apologize), this manic desire for complexity and control is what initially made me interested enough to shell out $80 for this game. With that being said, please bare with me (even if it is just to tell me to go back and enjoy the game) when I ask if there is any more info, beyond the manual, about what is happening in combat?

I'm not looking to predict the hits of every single element, but I am looking to predict broader patterns beyond just commander's instinct or it should work that way. The commander's report is a wealth of information that is just an absolute tease because in most cases I have no idea how the information goes together.

From the manual, my understanding is that the elements pick a distance (which is dependent upon the terrain), fire (depending upon their ammo, morale, ROF) and then maybe get hit in which case they can be disrupted, damaged or destroyed. Here's an example of how my understanding of the manual's description and the numbers from the commander report go together:

From my experiences in Operation Husky, I know that naval artillery absolutely wrecks. Whenever naval artillery is employed, the enemy disruption goes through the roof. I'm guessing that happens at range (prior to the enemy getting into range of my guys) as my losses are minimal. Beyond that, I have no idea how to compare most of the numbers I'm seeing. Let's look at the numbers for the 7.5 in Naval Gun available to the commonwealth.

Range: 21100. I'm assuming this is 21 km. Awesome, jives with my understanding that I shot them way before the could shoot me.
Ammo: 300. I'm assuming this is per fire? Makes sense that resupplying this is a hog based on what the manual says about logistics.
Then it gets less clear....

Anti-Soft: 420. ???? No idea what this is in relation too. I guess that's a good number for killing squishies like people. Maybe the naval gun also likes to blow a different kind of smoke, or is a secret Hitler fan? I speculate because the possibilities for this number being 420 are endless... and meaningless to me.
Anti-Armor: 105 ??? Armor values for units are supposed to be in mm. Maybe this can penetrate 105mm?
Penetration: 277 ??? Even more confused... Anti-armor and penetration are different?
Blast: 14 ?? Is there a spatial separation of units that is tracked in combat?
Effect: 200???

But wait there is more...

All ground units have a speed value. This makes sense for movement points, but one is left to wonder whether it factors into combat? Does combat move in rounds based on range (e.g. everything legal at 3000m can shoot now) or does it move in rounds based on time (e.g. round 1, infantry is at 3000m but tanks at 1000m).

How does the maneuver rating play into air combat and where did the magic, rest pilots at 60 fatigue come from?

Why are rockets (allegedly) better for interdiction versus dropping hundreds of small bombs everywhere with 4E planes?

I've dug around the forums quite a bit. I know the information is out there, and has a gameplay impact. I recall reading a forum where one of the devs stated that air-ground attacks above 5000 ft dive with FBs but make glide attacks under 5000ft. This behavior had an impact on strategies against different flak concentrations and affected decision making. I want to be empowered to make these decisions versus wondering what's happening and whether I need to drug test my 7.5 in naval guns.

So I know, I'm going to be told to go play the game and enjoy myself. I'm half telling myself to do that because this is a great game, and its worth $80. But if you do have information, and your willing to share.... oh man. I'd even settle for a combat debug window that I could watch.

Thanks in advance.
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loki100
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by loki100 »

First advice.

Work carefully through the detailed battle report. You'll quickly see what elements/weapons engaged at what range and to what effect. What killed tanks, what disrupted the attacking infantry etc. You'll also see that artillery dominates - at the worst it will disrupt the enemy (and disrupted elements take no part in the rest of the battle).

Then look at the results of an air-ground attack. What you'll see after a few egs is that level bombers disrupt rather than kill and that most kills (and there won't be many) come from FBs. Now as above, this makes level bombers quite useful as disruption is a prelude to defeat.

Second advice.

Run a combat at the slower speeds (5 or more), this can be very informative as you see what fires at what (which you can't see in the post-event reports).

Third advice.

You can play the combat system very well with the information above and some understanding of secondary effects. There are a number of relatively common sense terrain modifiers. So tanks vs infantry in poor or urban terrain is not a great idea.

Equally sheer numbers count. So say 3 allied divisions attacking a dug in FJ regiment can seem like a bad idea (apparent cv odds) but will mostly likely pay off - esp if you bother to ensure as much disruption as you can. Maybe not first attack but a follow up has a good chance to disrupt them. Understanding this is key to good allied gameplay, especially in Italy.

Artillery will destroy fortifications - at range. So by the time the infantry close those level #3 forts may be down to 2 or even 1. Sappers/combat engineers also take out fortifications but at the same time as the infantry hits.

Fourth bit.

Remember that most of your ToE is fixed. The elements in a division are not variable (you can have some bits missing of course), so I really would not worry about any deeper level. It makes no practical difference. Just make sure you have a good grasp of support unit allocation so as to maximise the key variables above.
dnguyen528
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by dnguyen528 »

Thanks for the reply loki. Watching the battles helps. My question of how the battle progresses has been answered, and everything seems to move together at a single range. Man, at 625m the divisions really started to open up on each other. Artillery most definitely wrecked and the howitzers fired multiple times before the bulk of devices engaged at 625m.

From what I've seen, I'm guessing that the distance that an attacking force is stopped is the distance where the CV weight of the attacker's undisrupted units falls below 2 times the defender's CV weight.

Is there any way to tell which fighters are inflicting which losses? The Ground losses screen seems lump everything together into air, and there isn't a nice breakdown like there is on the ground combat screen.

Watching at message level 5 is slow though. I'd love to be able to export the entirety of the messages into a single report that I can quickly scroll through. Maybe a feature request for some future release/sequel?

Some of the stats are still an absolute mystery to me. As an example, what differentiates an interdiction level 6 from an interdiction level 5 (other than 6 is obviously better). How are people deciding when to upgrade equipment? Do people simply use the best equipment that there is until its no longer enough to fill out TOEs? Without knowing the effect of the number differences, its hard to make good decisions between 1) having a few priority divisions with the best equipment and multiple under strength divisions versus 2) having many full strength divisions with inferior equipment.

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loki100
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by loki100 »

ORIGINAL: dnguyen528

...

Some of the stats are still an absolute mystery to me. As an example, what differentiates an interdiction level 6 from an interdiction level 5 (other than 6 is obviously better). How are people deciding when to upgrade equipment? Do people simply use the best equipment that there is until its no longer enough to fill out TOEs? Without knowing the effect of the number differences, its hard to make good decisions between 1) having a few priority divisions with the best equipment and multiple under strength divisions versus 2) having many full strength divisions with inferior equipment.


key to this is you can't control the allocation or upgrade process. The ToEs alter on a historical basis and in turn that draws produced tanks, guns, elements etc out of the production pools into your units.

You can use the supply priority, refit and % ToE options to create more or less powerful formations but that is a matter of how well supplied, rested and amount of equipment that goes to a formation - not deciding that 1 British armoured will get the special new shiny tanks and not another British armoured division.

So you have some tools - typically those of high command as to units to pull into reserve and refit, where you want supply and ammo etc to flow and to let some sectors operate with reduced assets, but I believe the basic approach is a fundamental design decision to stop too much micro managing of the games (there is plenty already that you can indulge in)

So the only bit where you can micro-manage the upgrade routine (and then its a choice as you can leave it automated) is the swapping in/out of new aircraft type.
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Helpless
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by Helpless »

Watching at message level 5 is slow though. I'd love to be able to export the entirety of the messages into a single report that I can quickly scroll through. Maybe a feature request for some future release/sequel?

Battle data can be exported to the csv file. You need to run game with -bDump command line option. Data will be written to \dat\save\logs\CombatMessages(.....).csv
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EddyBear81
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by EddyBear81 »

Sounds great...
...but how do I activate this bDump option ? I do not even know what is a command line (outside the military I mean) !
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loki100
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by loki100 »

ORIGINAL: EddyBear81

Sounds great...
...but how do I activate this bDump option ? I do not even know what is a command line (outside the military I mean) !

you most likely have a short cut key on your desktop to the game. Right click on that and select properties. You'll see something like I have shown below. Clearly your own path to the game exe will vary according to how you set up games on your computer.

Image

to add the extra code after ....exe" add -bDump
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dnguyen528
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by dnguyen528 »

Thanks for the tip about -bdump. There is A LOT going on in here. At 8200 lines of excel for one battle, I guess I get what I asked for. Ha.
HMSWarspite
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RE: Inside the combat black box

Post by HMSWarspite »

Yep. There is plenty there. In my experience you wont want to, but if you do feel the need for more detail, this has been asked for before. The answer is that Gary likes for players to not know every detail under the hood, to preserve some of the 'gut feel'. I agree with him - I hate counter shuffle 'must get that extra factor to get 3:1 then I know I have 37.45363% chance of the CRT causing a kill' type games[8|]. Oh, and I suspect Gary views it as NVA work for a tiny minority of players as well[8D].
I have a cunning plan, My Lord
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