Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Combined Arms: World War II is a turn-based battalion level simultaneous execution operational level game in development by Ludovic Coval and Erik Rutins.
It includes a complete scenario editor and is set at a 1km per hex / 8 hours per turn scale.
zumHeuriger
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Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by zumHeuriger »

If you've ordered a couple of battalions from your reseve up to tactically assault the enemy, and they are engaged hot and heavy, how easy and safe is it to pull them back out of line the next turn and form them up against an enemy breakthrough a couple of hexes away. In UGO/IGO it is simple, since you know the enemy can't attack you on your turn.

Does it take more staff points? Do adjacent enemy units get to shoot them as they leave? Are they effectivly stuck (hence the title). Does it take longer to change formation?

Inquiring minds are curious.

Tom
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IronDuke_slith
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

Tom,

In my experience with CA, the problems of disengagement are actually broken down into their constituent parts, so there is no disnegagement penalty, but instead a few things that might go wrong.

Firstly, to move, you have to be in a non-defensive mode. That means that once you've changed from hasty or prepared defence into another mode, you are less powerful defensively if you get hit by an enemy attack. This can be unfortunate.

If the enemy attacks before you are ready to go, you will be locked into the battle.

Enemy artillery may harrass or bombard you at any stage preventing you from completing the movement to the other fight you have described, or just holding you up. It may even stop you in your tracks.

Finally, as often as not, you'll be relieving the unit to move it elsewhere, not merely moving it. In CA, you have to time this, noting when the relieving unit arrives, and ordering your unit out afterwards. If enemy artillery harrasses your relieving unit delaying or preventing it from reaching your position, your front line unit will leave something of a hole.

Finally, mech units moving when adjacent to enemy units with LRAT are prone to get fired on in what is best described as opportunity fire. If the enemy had a 17pdr Regiment defending against your MIV battalion when you pulled them out, there is a chance they are going to take fire.

Hope this helps,
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geozero
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by geozero »

IN order to properly disengage, you may need to leave at least one unit in defensive mode to take the brunt of any land assault the enemy may be planning. This may allow you to disengage other units, but as IronDuke pointed out you could still get hurt badly while units prepare disengagement (pulling out of trenches, getting into vehicles, etc.). I think disengaging during night turns may be easier, but all depends on your enemy's action.

You could also conduct your own harrassing arty bombardment on enemy units facing you in an effort to disrupt them thus allowing you to retreat.

I think it's best to keep a mobile reserve force behind the lines to plug holes or take advantage of you own attacks rather than trying to disengage units to re-position somewhere else on the line.
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cabron66
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by cabron66 »

Actually, there goes an interesting point. How is night handled by the engine? Given that the turns are of 8 hours each, but night is rarely 8 hours long, I would assume that nightfall can happen mid-turn, for example, but what allowances are made to take darkness into account?

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Paul
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geozero
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by geozero »

How is night handled by the engine?

Same as day turns except with flashlights.... sorry I couldn't resist. [:D]

You are correct about nights being less than 8 hours.

First off, scenario designers can set the time of day, dusk, dawn, and night. So let's take a turn that starts at 1800 hours (that's 6pm for you non-military minded). The scenario may be set to have dusk start at 1900, and night by 2100 hrs. Maybe dawn just starting at 0400 hrs. SO within this 8 hour turn we can actually have three different "stages" of light conditions.

Let's say you give orders to a unit to move out at 1800 hrs. They will (theoretically) reach their destination by 0200 hrs in the middle of the night so long as no enemy encountered, etc. While moving at 1945 hrs they may come into contact with enemy. Light conditions are factored into intel (whether or not you can determine the unit type and strength encountered), etc. By 1205 hrs your unit is now in full contact, perhaps having been ambushed. They will continue to fight and try to move, etc. but by 0400 some light begins as dawn starts. This may reveal that your lone infantry company has come across a reinforced Panzer battalion. The extra intel will not help you much now, but will certainly help your next move. Do you extricate the ambushed unit, or send in reinforcements???

There are other game engine variables, so the above is only but a small sampling of how the "night" turns affect movement and combat. It also affects arty and air and naval assets. Another thing to consider is weather. Designers can set up weather patterns, rain, snow, etc.
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Jagger2002
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by Jagger2002 »

Sounds like there may be a need for a order such as "Do not vacate front lines until relieved".
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by zumHeuriger »

Actually I think there is such an order - when you design your relief operation, you designate the relief unit's arrival in the defense hex as the key to trigger the start of departure of the other unit(s). I don't know if you can set the completion of the mode change for the reliever as the trigger though, ie, don't leave until he's in defence mode

Hopefully that is right?
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by cabron66 »

ORIGINAL: geozero
How is night handled by the engine?

Same as day turns except with flashlights.... sorry I couldn't resist. [:D]

You are correct about nights being less than 8 hours.

That's what I thought you might say. Very different way of doing things. I don't think I've ever seen a turn-based game that had changing conditions within the turn itself. Should be interesting.

Cheers

Paul
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IronDuke_slith
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

Paul,

It really does have an effect. In Epsom, with Allied air units all over, you tend to make large scale movements (as AXIS) during the hours of darkness, ensuring everyone is digging in when first light arrives.

There is a new ability within the game to assign air units to specific areas of the map to interdict. You pick the target hex and their actions are confined to that hex and the ones surrounding it out to a smallish radius (I forget exactly how many).

In practical terms, it means movement is easier where it doesn't matter, but more difficult on those road/town/bridge bottlenecks, as interdicting air units will usually be overhead. It adds a more realistic feel because interdiction is less random.

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cabron66
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by cabron66 »

Another idea would be to have interdiction centered on road or rail. In other words, units are far more likely to be hit when travelling down a road than they are when travelling through the countryside.

Interdiction in WWII often consisted of simply cruising up and down highways and key roads waiting for the enemy to make an appearance.

May I ask what effects interdiction can have in your engine? The question may sound a bit strange, but I have noticed that many games seem unable to agree on what it is interdiction actually accomplished in WWII.

BTW, for some interesting reading on the subject of interdiction (of all types) check-out "Das Reich" by Max Hastings. It is the story of the 2nd SS Panzer Division's trek from Southern France to Normandy in 1944. Fascinating read. Clearly illustrates the difficulties of moving under enemy air superiority.

Cheers

Paul

p.s. Also, after a month or two of fighting in Normandy, the Germans had succeeded in lining most major roads with slit trenches. Seems incredible, but they pulled it off. Of course, you can't drive a truck into a slit trench, but at the very least you save a lot of manpower.

Quesada, once angered by Leigh-Mallory's proposed redistribution of Allied airpower, had a couple of planes take pictures of the road network on both sides of the front at the same time of day. On the German side the roads were empty, while on the Allied side the roads were overflowing with material. Leigh-Mallory, upon viewing the pictures, cancelled his planned changes and left Quesada to continue his work.
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

ORIGINAL: cabron66

Another idea would be to have interdiction centered on road or rail. In other words, units are far more likely to be hit when travelling down a road than they are when travelling through the countryside.

I have a feeling the game engine does this, Paul, increasing the likelihood of interdiction of "obvious" hexes.
Interdiction in WWII often consisted of simply cruising up and down highways and key roads waiting for the enemy to make an appearance.

Yes, but it would often be in conjunction with operations, so those roads would be reinforcement routes into the battle area rather than any roads the fighter-Bomberts chanced upon.
May I ask what effects interdiction can have in your engine? The question may sound a bit strange, but I have noticed that many games seem unable to agree on what it is interdiction actually accomplished in WWII.

Losses and delay. In certain circumstances, the units will stop altogether.
BTW, for some interesting reading on the subject of interdiction (of all types) check-out "Das Reich" by Max Hastings. It is the story of the 2nd SS Panzer Division's trek from Southern France to Normandy in 1944. Fascinating read. Clearly illustrates the difficulties of moving under enemy air superiority.

I think interdiction becomes the main reason for Allied air power in the end. Rockets and bombs simply aren't accurate enough for battlefield support, not without exposing the pilot to more trouble than it is possibly worth. The Allies tried hard with FBs in the ground support role, but they don't seem to have been as effective as received wisdom would have us believe. This wasn't just an Allied thing, the Greman air attacks at Sedan in 1940 kept the French heads down, but killed hardly anyone despite lasting for several hours. Once the German troops were across, the German planes moved on to support the ground effort through interdiction, sealing off the battlefield by hitting anything moving along the roads towards it.
p.s. Also, after a month or two of fighting in Normandy, the Germans had succeeded in lining most major roads with slit trenches. Seems incredible, but they pulled it off. Of course, you can't drive a truck into a slit trench, but at the very least you save a lot of manpower.

Actual human casualties seem to have been fairly light so I can well believe this. Soft skinned vehicles seemed to have been the most vulnerable so this would fit with the picture you paint of vehicles being abandoned where they stopped whilst the crews headed for the trenches.
Quesada, once angered by Leigh-Mallory's proposed redistribution of Allied airpower, had a couple of planes take pictures of the road network on both sides of the front at the same time of day. On the German side the roads were empty, while on the Allied side the roads were overflowing with material. Leigh-Mallory, upon viewing the pictures, cancelled his planned changes and left Quesada to continue his work.

I think I've heard this story, although in the version I heard, Quesada was called up by Bradley complainig about German air activity. He had the recon runs done and Bradley took the point after seeing the Allied rear areas inundated with vehicles sat out in the open, and the area behind the German front lines completely deserted.

In a related story, Quesada was called up by Bradley who was angry about rather hysterical reports he was getting from the 29th Division Commander about German air attacks. The two men went to see the 29th's Commander (Gerhardt) and after complaining about German air activity, Gerhardt agreed to get Quesada and Bradley the precise details of what his subordinates were complaining to him about.

It turned out that one of the 29th Regimental HQs had been strafed by a couple of German fighters. The attack had set a halftrack on fire and wounded a Regimental cook. This had been an isolated incident. Embarrassed by the source and nature of the complaint, the 29th's Commander said no more, and Bradley penned a memo to his Commanders suggesting that they should not consider themselves immune to air attack.

Allied Commanders were rather spoiled at times. If you see footage of Allied troops in Normandy, and then compare it to footage of German troops, the Germans are invariably looking upwards.

Regards,
IronDuke
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by Arckon »

Geozero said:

I think it's best to keep a mobile reserve force behind the lines to plug holes or take advantage of you own attacks rather than trying to disengage units to re-position somewhere else on the line.

?? When planning your turn can you give orders for your mobile reserve to recon a certain area of the line so it is able to move in and take advantages of these holes in the line either offensively or defensively if they suddenly occur?


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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

ORIGINAL: Arckon
Geozero said:

I think it's best to keep a mobile reserve force behind the lines to plug holes or take advantage of you own attacks rather than trying to disengage units to re-position somewhere else on the line.

?? When planning your turn can you give orders for your mobile reserve to recon a certain area of the line so it is able to move in and take advantages of these holes in the line either offensively or defensively if they suddenly occur?






Image

You can do this using this reserve orders screen. You highlight something from the top section and something from the bottom section.

The top section sets what your unit in reserve status reacts to. Movement means it reacts to block enemy oncoming formations. Defensive means it moves to aid friendly troops under attack. Offensive allows it to move to aid troops of your own on the attack. The rest are combinations and General sees it reacting to absolutely anything.

The bottom section allows you to set a radius. If the required condition set in the top section occurs within this radius, the unit will attempt to react. It's an easy tool to learn, but takes some mastering as you need to be able to read what is likely to happen and set the order accordingly. At its most useful and common, it allows a unit to sit behind the front lines and reinforce any portion of the line within range that comes under attack.

Regards,
IronDuke
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

The instance above is shown in this shot. The Reserve unit is 8 Co, 2nd Btn, 12 SS Panzer Regiment. It is set to reserve defensive orders with a 1 km radius.


It's set to support the front line companies of Olboeter's Pzgr regiment. Ahead lie the Tanks and Infantry of 49th Division.

Note the purple ring giving you an easy visual on the units range.

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IronDuke


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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by geozero »

Thanks IronDuke, you beat me to the answer. [&o] I'm on baby watch these days.

[:D]

Also, it's not a good idea to commit all your forces to holding the line, so you may want to have a battalion or two a few clicks back in order to use as needed. It's better if these are motorized or armor so that they can move quickly. IN addition, if the scenario calls for reinforcements, then these units can become the mobile reserves. You can assign these as noted above in IronDuke's posts or manually move them as needed.

Bridges, high ground, major roads and towns/cities (not to mention scenario VP's) are also key points to hold. Better use forces for these than spread thinly. [:D]
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by cabron66 »

Yes, but it would often be in conjunction with operations, so those roads would be reinforcement routes into the battle area rather than any roads the fighter-Bomberts chanced upon.

Absolutely.
Losses and delay. In certain circumstances, the units will stop altogether.

Basically what it did. In terms of losses, is there a system in place to allow different kinds of units to be hit in different ways?

I'm probably getting ahead of myself, but I was thinking about how interdiction can hit you as much psychologically as physically. Armoured units, for example, would not likely sustain losses to vehicles or crews, but if travelling with organic support could suffer badly in terms of organization and supply. Infantry may not become casualties, but can take significant morale and organization hits. In other words, you don't necessarily lose weaponry, but rather lose valuable support capacity, lose morale and reach the battlefield bruised, battered and exhausted.
I think I've heard this story, although in the version I heard, Quesada was called up by Bradley complainig about German air activity. He had the recon runs done and Bradley took the point after seeing the Allied rear areas inundated with vehicles sat out in the open, and the area behind the German front lines completely deserted.

In a related story, Quesada was called up by Bradley who was angry about rather hysterical reports he was getting from the 29th Division Commander about German air attacks. The two men went to see the 29th's Commander (Gerhardt) and after complaining about German air activity, Gerhardt agreed to get Quesada and Bradley the precise details of what his subordinates were complaining to him about.

It turned out that one of the 29th Regimental HQs had been strafed by a couple of German fighters. The attack had set a halftrack on fire and wounded a Regimental cook. This had been an isolated incident. Embarrassed by the source and nature of the complaint, the 29th's Commander said no more, and Bradley penned a memo to his Commanders suggesting that they should not consider themselves immune to air attack.

Allied Commanders were rather spoiled at times. If you see footage of Allied troops in Normandy, and then compare it to footage of German troops, the Germans are invariably looking upwards.

Regards,
IronDuke

I think it was Bradley. You're probably right.

Now for all the money, which German HQ was pinpointed by Ultra and subsequently obliterated by fighter-bombers in the opening stages of Normandy?

That's another impression I took away from Hastings. The number of times that key German commanders were wounded or killed by Allied interdiction. Imagine the effect that must have had on the troops.

Cheers

Paul
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Arckon
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by Arckon »

Hey Ironduke and Geozero, thanks for the reply, and the pics are appreciated to see what you are talking about.

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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

I think it was Bradley. You're probably right.

Now for all the money, which German HQ was pinpointed by Ultra and subsequently obliterated by fighter-bombers in the opening stages of Normandy?

That's another impression I took away from Hastings. The number of times that key German commanders were wounded or killed by Allied interdiction. Imagine the effect that must have had on the troops.

Cheers

Paul

Hmmm....

Was it 12th SS? I know Witt was killed at his HQ on 14th June. I think that was shell fire, though, from Naval ships offshore. Naval fire suggests it was intelligence, though, as they couldn't have visually seen their target.

You're right about Commanders. Rommel is the most famous example, I suppose, but not the only one. I haven't seen a comprehensive list, so just remember the odd one where it is mentioned in other texts. Did Marcks of 84th Corp get hit in this way. I know one of his Divisional Commanders did, but I seem to remember that was caused by the US Airborne rather than the US Air Force.

Regards,
IronDuke
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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by IronDuke_slith »

ORIGINAL: geozero

Thanks IronDuke, you beat me to the answer. [&o] I'm on baby watch these days.

[:D]

Don't forget to write and tell me when it happens, I have a large bottle of budweiser on ice waiting for news of Baby Geo.
Also, it's not a good idea to commit all your forces to holding the line, so you may want to have a battalion or two a few clicks back in order to use as needed. It's better if these are motorized or armor so that they can move quickly. IN addition, if the scenario calls for reinforcements, then these units can become the mobile reserves. You can assign these as noted above in IronDuke's posts or manually move them as needed.

Bridges, high ground, major roads and towns/cities (not to mention scenario VP's) are also key points to hold. Better use forces for these than spread thinly. [:D]

Everyone, Geo is an ex-US Marine. The above sounds perfectly reasonable from an operational standpoint, but I usually expect a certain amount of (shall we say...?) bluntness when facing him in battle as old habits die hard. He might set out thinking like Manstein but after a while Vandegrift takes over and things get more sabre than rapier and the noise levels go up. [;)]

Regards,
IronDuke

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RE: Combined Arms and the Tar Baby

Post by cabron66 »

It was von Schweppenburg, the commander of Panzer Group West, but I was wrong about him being killed. He managed to escape with serious wounds while most of his staff was killed. Quite the event for the Germans considering it happened on June 11 only five days after the invasion had started.

Von Schweppenburg was stubbornly organizing a counterattack against the Orne bridgehead against the better advice of Rommel. The attack on his HQ prompted the counterattack (involving parts of three panzer divisions) to be cancelled. Dietrich took command in his stead.

Of course, this wasn't just the result of interdiction, but also was due to the work of Bletchley Park and the mobile HQ's failure to camouflage itself. It is interesting, though, as an example of the effects of a general state of air superiority produced disorganization.

Cheers

Paul
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