Butterblümchen Quickbattle Rules

Butterblümchen

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Here are some ideas for rules for roughly medium-sized quickbattles. The aim is to emphasize the different roles (attacker/defender) and keep battles well balanced and plausible from a realism point of view. You see that the idea is to give players dedicated aspect-oriented point budgets (vehicles, fortifications, TRPs). How come? If you let players buy whatever they want with their points, the result can be randomly very unbalanced. I often get the impression that the balance of a game can be shifted very strongly in one direction just as a result of force selection. So in general, these rules are an attempt to shift the decision more towards the action on the battlefield, away from force selection which is always a bit dicey. Also, some very immersive/realistic assets will never find their way into quickbattles without dedicated point budgets, simply because they're horribly overprized (e.g. mines, barbed wire, partly also howitzers).

At the same time, it's also a shy attempt to mitigate tanks' dominance of the battlefield, which is currently over the top. But this issue can't be tackled by house rules alone, as it is the result of so many factors that would need to be adressed by the devs. The main culprits for the tanks' overpoweredness in the quickbattle setting are broken fortifications, totally overpriced tank obstacles and AT mines, zerg-spotting/area-fire which helps tanks a lot (their main weakness would be vision...) and an almost total lack of anti-tank close combat means (ridicolously limited ammo for AT grenades/no cocktails, no mines carried on the men). Another factor in favour of tanks is the lack of a "reinforcement" mechanic in quickbattles, so that a player can manoeuver freely with his tanks once he is certain that he has defeated the opponents (anti)tank assets.

Let me know what you think. Let's have an interesting discussion! :)

Unspectacular standard stuff
  • Map and battle duration: as agreed by the players
  • Battle type: probe (doesn't really matter)
  • Weather, daylight, ground conditions: as the attacker wishes, but the defender must be informed before troop selection (map preview is allowed). Very special conditions (night, dense fog, thunder storms) should be agreed upon by both players before the battle.
  • The defender may not call artillery/mortar strikes or air strikes on the deployment zone of the attacker.
  • Pre-planned barrages are allowed for both sides (but the point above about the attacker's deployment zone still applies).
  • Both players may buy fortifications of any type (including TRPs, bunkers, etc). Players should agree on whether air support is allowed or not.
Special rules
  • Force size*: The players are required to agree on a point value on their own (both for ordinary points and rarity points). As in an ordinary probe, the attackers base point budget should be set to be 150% that of the defender. You should agree on the point limit and then simply pick the next higher force size and an adequate rarity setting in the set-up screen.
  • Unit soft factors: All units of a formation must have the same soft factors. Ordinary units may not have soft stats better than “regular” experience, “normal” motivation, leaderhip “0”. Note that this is the upper limit – players are free to give their units worse stats, including “unfit”.
  • Players may only buy up to 2 combat formations (note: artillery, fortifications, air support and supply formations do not count against that limit; by contrast, anti aircraft formations do count against this limit).
  • Extra assets: You may only buy extra assets (single vehicles, special teams) according to the type of the main formation. For example, if your formation is a german "infantry battalion", then you may not add a Tiger tank, as the Tiger tank does not show up when you select "infantry/single vehicles" or "armored infantry/single vehicles". If you want a Tiger, you need to buy a tank formation! Remember you can pick up to two formations.
  • Special rules for elite units: Particular high quality formations (paratroopers of all factions, SS, Gebirgsjäger?, ...) may receive an additional soft factor quality level (experience “veteran”, “high” motivation, +1 leadership). Note that still all units in the formation need to have the same soft factors (you can't just give SS tanks and PaK-crews a boost). If a player wants to use an airborne formation, he may only pick other airborne formations and no "none airborne formation". This extends to both combat and support (e.g. artillery) formations! If a player choses paratroopers, he should also need to deal with their disadvantages (lack of heavy support weapons).
  • free TRPs: Both players get an amount of TRPs for free. I'd suggest between 5 and 10 for medium battles. Even though they look ugly, I think that more TRPs are better. It just seems odd that the defender or the attacker failed to designate TRPs before the attack. I can't stand it when battles are decided by the lack of a TRP and reverse slope spotting fiddlyness that unrealisitcally keeps you from shelling obvious terrain features (Don't tell me you can't see 105mm shell splashes because of a tiny hedge, fffs!).
  • Vehicle/fortification point budgets: The attacker needs to declare how many points (in increments of 100 points) he intends to spend on vehicles. The defender may only spend half of that value on vehicles. However, the defender receives 50% of the amount (25% of the points called out by the attacker) as “defender bonus points”. These bonus points may only be spent on fortifications (excluding TRPs). NOTE: vehicles that have no dedicated AT-capable gun (i.e. high velocity, flat trajectory, plenty of AP ammo) only count as 50% their price against the vehicle threshold (for both, defender and attacker). This affects sp. howitzers, StuHs, sp. arty, jeeps, halftracks, ammo trucks, etc. but not sp. ATGs, StuGs.
Example: Players agree on a base point budget of 2000 points for the defender and 3000 (150%) for the attacker. The attacker then declares that he will spend 1000 of these points on vehicles. Therefore, the defender may spend up to 500 of his 2000 points on vehicles. Moreover, the defender receives 250 points extra (in addition to his 2000 points) that he may only spend on fortifications (other than TRPs).
Experimental gentleman rule: Vehicles may only area-target confirmed or suspected contacts, buildings (I would prefer to extend it to other "easily identifyable terrain features", but the defintion is rather tricky...) and TRPs. Moreover, they may only do so if within C2 (don't forget to buy a HQ tank!.). Note that "area-target" includes firing "in front of the target". On the up/down axis, you don't need to aim exactly at the target. I think that zerg-spotting (players letting tanks and other heavy calibres area-target enemy positions that are still unknown to the tank crews) are a major factor why tanks in CM are "overpowered". Obviously, this rule cannot be controlled, so it's more of a gentlemens' agreement. The rule has the same spirit as the more restrictive Hard Cat Rules. Note that - in combination with the "2 combat formations" rule - this rule also makes coordination a bit harder (as vehicles and infantry are usually not of the same formation, sharing info about enemy position is a bit more complicated - unfortunately, telephones on tanks are not simulated in CM and info sharing works even when the tank is buttoned up ^^).

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* For your reference, here are the point values of the default force sizes for the defender/attacker in probes in CM:FB: small 1475/2162, medium 2300/3400, large 3620/5380, huge 5732/8548
** With the exception of non-AT vehicles? E.g. should it be allowed to add a single assault howitzer?
 
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Bulletpoint

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I agree with many of the thoughts that go into your house rules. I just find there comes a point when the amount of special rules gets too big, and I start to feel like I'm playing a game of battlefield law instead of focusing on the tactics.

That's also why I have suggested several times on the official forum that some of these rules get built into the game as an optional extra realism setting. The area fire rule in particular would go a LONG way towards balancing out tanks and other direct-fire HE (mortars). Also, the weakness and high price of basic infantry fortifications should be looked at, in my opinion.
 

Butterblümchen

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I admit it looks like a lot but really it boils down to just three things:
  • separated budgets for vehicles/fortifications/TRPs (bigger chance to see overprized/underused assets on the map, distinctive defender role with fortifications)
  • flattening out big differences in soft factors (superman tank crews and tank hunter teams...)
  • limit on "extra" assets (no cherry picking!)
I don't like to have many rules either. But I still prefer them over getting a stale taste at some point when the game is already running. It's better invest more effort in the beginning than to find out that things are unbalanced so much that it's no fun after 30 turns of play.

I think there have been plenty of suggestions in the past about the area fire problem, but I don't think we will see any change here. The same is true for fortifications.
 

Nemesis

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I played a game like this once with a guy who had a ton of rules. At some point, it just becomes too complex. People start to misunderstand things. You spend hours setting things up and then find out that the other guy had a different take on things. So you start over.....

Giving free TRPs seems like a questionable idea. They are already too cheap for what they can do.

You seem to fear vehicles a little much. I don't think vehicles are overpowered in CM. I have won a lot of games where I did not take a single vehicle.

Declaring how much you are going to spend on vehicles kind of takes all the mystery out of it.

Area fire restrictions? I have never objected to it. When I see my opponent's tanks area fire, I breath a sigh of relief. They will run out of HE much sooner. As far as borg spotting......yes it is really hard to get around that.

You also seem to really want to add bias toward fortifications. OK. I wish that CM would just fix all the bugs in fortifications rather than add rules that cause you to add even more buggy units. I learned the hard way, for example, that trenches are just about useless.
 
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Butterblümchen

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Thanks for tuning in, Nemesis! :)

Now, before I answer, I need to point out that you're the current CM champion. It's pretty obvious that you don't have any problems with anything the opponent throws at you. :D

@ Tanks: Maybe we can out-source the discussion on tanks to the dedicated tank-topic I've opened up in the battlefront forum: http://community.battlefront.com/topic/135924-cm-wwii-are-tanks-overpowered/
I do think that infantry does not stand a chance against infantry+tanks, unless the terrain renders the tank fire ineffective (basically woods). Whenever your infantry fires at these tanks or the accompanying infantry, the enemy infantry will spot you and the tank will fire an HE shell or its MGs at your position. You can't get any schreck/bazooka on the tank, because it is screened by his own infantry. Your soldiers will die in heaps or be suppressed. What's your strategy against that? With great effort, depending on the terrain, you might be able to put up a defense of some sort (urban terrain, woods). But even when you say that tanks are not overpowered, the point is still that the way tanks can be used seems wrong to me. Infantry was not as helpless against tanks as it is portrayed in CM. The infantry and the armor battles feel strangely disjointed from each other in CM.

@ Foxholes: Trenches and foxholes are totally useless, true. But mines and obstacles (AT and wire) are usefull. Just horribly overprized. I'd really like to see/use them more often in quickbattles. But this will never happen if a few mines cost more points than a whole squad.

@ TRPs: You know how powerfull TRPs are. I know too (partly because you've taught me ^^). They often decide over victory and defeat. This is why I don't like them. I don't want TRPs to be that important. This is why I suggested to give both players plenty of TRPs so that they can't really miss the important points and so both players are on an equal footing in regards to TRPs. (Also, if we had proper fortifications, artillery would in general be less effective against the defender).
 
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Nemesis

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Good points.

Here are three more points on unintended consequences with buggy fortifications. Just food for thought:

1) Like you, I also like mines and agree that they are too expensive. However, unless the most recent patch corrected the problem, engineers cannot neutralize AT mines. With "free" mines, this could be a problem.

2) In CMX1, I once put a barbed wire fence all the way across a small map just to see what would happen. I left one opening in this fence and had many guns/mortars trained on that opening. It turned out to be a nightmare for my opponent. I am not sure if this would work in CMX2, but with "free" fortifications you might get gamey stuff like this.

3) AT bunkers are very dangerous. Possibly too dangerous. Lots of them can unbalance games.

So encouraging the use of fortifications would stress the use of the most unrealistic and buggy parts of CM.

You are absolutely right that tanks supported by infantry are a tough nut to crack which is precisely why people use that combo. :)

But unless the map is totally open, there is usually a way to get close to tanks and at least get them to pull back. Good use of cover and smoke can help. You can strip away accompanying infantry with mortars and artillery. But if the map is totally open, then take tanks yourself. The easiest way to kill a tank is still with another tank.

Tanks SHOULD kill exposed infantry. A tank easily has the firepower of an pair of infantry platoons if not more. So don't expose your infantry to tanks. If your opponent FORCES you to expose your infantry to his tanks.......then he is a good opponent.
 

Butterblümchen

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@1: Mines would not be free. You'd get points for mines (and wire, tank obstacles) in proportion to the amount of armor the opponent brings. I've just run a quick test though and was quite surprised to see that AT mines trigger very reliably. They can be detected by engineers though. Unfortunately, the opponent can see the craters when they go off, so these are not part of the fog of war. I can see the problem that on a very "dense" smallish map, all approaches could be mined. As a solution, I could come up with yet another rule (max. 1 formation of AT mines per X points) but that's too many rules for me, too. ;)

@2: Tracked vehicles can break through/destroy wire obstacles. Engineers can use their demo charges to blast through wire. I've just tested both.

@3: AT bunkers have HUGE rarity costs. So I'd say they're pretty much ruled out anyway.

@tanks: I'm not saying that the combined tank+infantry team should not have the edge over exposed infantry. Of course I'm with you on this one. The problem is that - if we want to stick to realism - defending infantry shouldn't be exposed. The first thing every unit in WWII did immediately was to dig-in (airstrikes, arty, attacks). This very vital element of WWII warfare is missing in CM, which unbalances the whole experience in favour of all the "enemies" of defending infantry (+crew served weapons): ie. artillery (and TRPs), tanks, attacking infantry.

Dug-in infantry should at least have a chance to fight back against a tank+infantry combo. It should - together with arty/mortars, as you've mentioned - have a chance to fight off the tanks' infantry support, so that the tanks become vulnerable in close combat if they continue to press forward alone (lack of AT close combat weapons in CM...). The main reason why defending infantry should be able to "fight" the tank+inf combo is that it should benefit from the protection of its fortifications (not die instantly to HE shells!) and and also the tanks should not be able to react very fast. Both of these aspects are missing in CM (no protection, borg-spotting tanks). Obstacles also help here, as they can slow down the attacker (increasing your time window to call arty or cause casualties on the accompanying infantry by small arms fire).

Again, our experiences might also differ a bit because I prefer to play on "totally open" maps. The more open maps (typically scenario maps) have a realistic scale.
 
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