CMFB Trench Vs Foxholes

holoween

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I was comparing thrench vs foxhole cover and thought id post the results as you might find it interesting

Test setup
Trench vs Foxholes setup.jpg

Both sides are regular american rifle platoons with a wall to sepaerate them during the indirect fire tests.
I tested 60mm onmap mortar, 81mm offmap mortar and 105mm howitzers. All with max length heavy linear barrage along the length of the platoons.
All tests were run for 3 min.

detailed results
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1o4nz0sHbp8Z03fFmm9CweH8P8Z8Nf0XiGHwAQvztsZ4/edit#gid=0

TLDR Trenches are worse in every way.
 

Butterblümchen

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This proves once more that fortifications are in big need of an update.

As I like to use ample time limits in quickbattles (which gives the attacker time to call arty), the lack of functioning fortifications is becoming a real dealbreaker for me. Unless the map features houses or you buy some of those wooden bunkers (these actually provide protection against artillery!), you have no means to protect infantry from being eliminated by artillery extremely fast. It would be totally fine if a prolonged artillery barrage of heavy calibers caused casualties over time. In Combat Mission, however, a short stomp by 2 mortar tubes is usually enough to render any infantry position hors de combat, regardless of its so-called "fortifications". And I'm not even speaking of panicked crews leaving their AT guns (which cannot be remanned ...), but just about 40-50% of the soldiers in "trenches" dying in less than 3 minutes. It's unrealistic and affects the planning aspect of the game negatively as you cannot rely on / build a plan around positions that are gone immediately if they're hit by some weak arty. Also, due to the way soft factors work, these unrealistic artillery massacres have a negative impact on your whole force (combat stress, as it has been explained by Josey Wales). It's the reason why I've largely replaced infantry by MG bunkers in my quickbattle-defences. Infantry is only suitable in built-up areas or as a close range protection for the bunkers' flanks.

ATGs are also very negatively affected by the lack of protective measures against artillery. As any experienced player will shell the obvious ATG positions, I feel forced to place ATGs in "unsuspicious" positions, i.e. completely in the open, relying on concealment/distance rather than protection. This, however, is only viable on maps that are very open and on which the enemy infantry can be stopped by small arms fire (bunkers) before they come within detection range of the ATG. As long as players have no means to fortify a position against artillery, It's usually better to rely on arty-proof AT assets (tanks, sp. ATGs). Of course it still depends on whether the opponent guesses right when placing his TRPs. But I don't like that the game puts so much focus on "guessing right".

I think that the game would be much more interesting if positions would actually need to be "conquered" (using smoke and suppression), rather than just "shelled". It feels cheap and leads to excessive, unrealistic amounts of casualties and takes away from the planning aspect that I like so much. As a positive side-effect, buffing fortifications against artillery would also help fo differentiate artillery more. Right now, I've got the impression that mortars do the job just as well as heavy arty.
 
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Bulletpoint

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This proves once more that fortifications are in big need of an update.
Many people have asked for this on the forums over the years, but the company thinks everything is working just fine. Maybe if they played their own game a bit, they'd start making some changes.
 

Butterblümchen

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Yes, even when hiding, the casualties are way too high.

I know it's also a matter of opinion, but if two mortar tubes shell a squads's slit trench for a few minutes, I wouldn't expect them to cause more than perhaps 1 casualty, if at all - unless of course a very lucky direct hit occurs (In CM, the trenches are much too broad, leading to easy direct hits). Would this make mortars and other indirect weapons useless? No, you'd just have to just work with the suppression that your mortars provide! I dare say that this is also the more interesting solution from a gameplay point of view. Also, even this single casualty would lead to combat stress and recude the defenders' resolve/will to expose themselves to the incoming fire. But I stop here, as this whole issue is related to a wider debate about whether suppression and morale rather than the actual killing (which for various reasons seems to happen too easily/fast in Combat Mission) should play a bigger role in fire fights.

More generally speaking, quickbattles are in an odd place right now. The defender's main advantage are ambush situations, which happen all the time because the lines of sight/fire on all the quickbattle maps (not the scenario maps!) are way too short. So the first shot (which the defender usually gets) is fired at short range and is therefore decisive. Most heavier weapon systems are not even needed at these ranges. By contrast, the defender does NOT gain any benefit from prepared positions, as these can simply be wiped out too easily. In my opinion engagements would be more realistic and interesting if the balance was shifted: the defender should gain an advantage from prepared positions, while the attacker should have a the opportunity to bring his overwhelming forces to bear without them being wiped out piecemeal in super-short-ranged ambush situations. In such a setting, i.e. with longer engagement distances and more protective field fortifications, spotting the opponent first would not be as important and decisive as it is right now. This would save us all a lot of spotting fiddlyness and scouting paranoia. I'm tired of playing nothing but ambushes. Longer engagement distances would also affect the usage of artillery (if the opponent needs to cross more ground, you have enough time to call in arty before the enemy is back into cover; at the same time, you'd need to set larger target areas in order not to run the risk of completely missing the advancing infantry...). In a nutshell, battles would be much more "attritional" than they're now. Currently, quickbattles are characterized by fast rushes, rolling the dice, horrible squad-wipe-outs.

I don't want to talk ill of Combat Mission and its developers, as it is a marvellous game series that has brought me (and is still bringing me) a lot of fun and there is no game series even coming anywhere close to it. Kudos where kudos is due! But I really do wonder why that one very essential aspect of WWII warfare remains so neglected and under-developed in a game otherwise quite obsessed with detail and realism.

As it is, the best means against enemy artillery is a small map (so that no FO can get eyes on the target area without being instantly spotted and taken under fire). This does not work against TRPs though.
 
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Bulletpoint

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I don't want to talk ill of Combat Mission and its developers
Me neither, but it often seems to me that the development of this game is like the old party game where a blindfolded person has to pin a tail on a donkey, guided by shouts from the onlookers.
 

holoween

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Did you order the infantry to "hide"? Because the thinking at BF is that the player has to manually hide the troops to get the effect of the trench/foxhole against artillery. It would be much better if the troops automatically hid in the trenches when shells started to come in. Well, they do after a while ("cowering") but that's only when enough bombs go off close enough to them to make them suppressed, and by then the damage is often already done.
I did the test hiding and not. There is a difference but its not really relevent. Against 81mm mortars without hiding i got an average of 18.2 casualties and 5.5 wounded compared to 16 and 3.3 while hiding. The hiding part only really matters for the first few shells as afterwards all men take cover anyways.
 

Bulletpoint

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Anyway, I wonder what @holoween would find now, if he tested it again. The running out of trenches bug seems to have been fixed. And since that bug caused a lot of casualties...

I remember playing a scenario in CMBN back in 3.12 where I got shelled by nebelwerfers. I had my infantry hide in foxholes and they took almost no casualties.
 

Bulletpoint

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I did the test hiding and not.
Yep, I just read your test more thoroughly only 5 minutes ago and realised you already tested for hiding too. So I deleted my comment about that.
 

holoween

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Anyway, I wonder what @holoween would find now, if he tested it again. The running out of trenches bug seems to have been fixed. And since that bug caused a lot of casualties...
actually if anything in my tests it saved some men. The only time they would run was when they had massive casualties quickyl and sometimes running away would save some men that would otherwise have certainly died.
 

Butterblümchen

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Am I missing something, was there a patch after July 22 (original post)? I'm on 2.02.
Also, in my eyes, the "running out of the trenches" is still a bug and doesn't make the main problem (that units IN fortifications are obliterated by even weak indirect fire quite instantly) any better.
Despite it not being their original intention, I'd say that the test results quoted by the original poster above make make this objectively clear to any reader.
 
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Bulletpoint

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Am I missing something, was there a patch after July 22 (original post)?
No, you're not missing anything, it's me not checking the date of the original post. I just assumed it had been made before the patch, since it talked about troops abandoning trenches under fire.
 

Butterblümchen

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Oh I see. I suppose one would need to differentiate between troops leaving trenches because of a "rattled" state and troops leaving trenches in order to seek cover in the craters created by the indirect fire (this one really bugs me out!).

PS: Related topic in the battlefront forum: http://community.battlefront.com/topic/135106-additional-fortifications/ This topic also reminds me that the angle at which indirect fire comes in should have a big impact on its chance to oland a direct hit.
 
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Bulletpoint

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I suppose one would need to differentiate between troops leaving trenches because of a "rattled" state and troops leaving trenches in order to seek cover in the craters created by the indirect fire (this one really bugs me out!).
As I see it, troops should only leave trenches if in "panic" state, and even then, they should be more likely to just hide in the foxhole.

When troops get to "broken" state, they should permanently stay heads down in their foxhole, and either surrender or shoot at enemies who get very close. This would give a gameplay purpose to flamethrowers.
 
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