Fortifications and concealment

Josey Wales

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#1
I'm playing a defensive battle at the moment and my positions are being spotted worryingly easily so I jumped into the editor to have a play around with trenches, foxholes and sandbags. I used open terrain to remove any chance of positioning having an effect on LOS. The spotting element was an infantry squad with a HQ.

It would appear that unoccupied trenches and sandbag fortifications are easily spotted in open terrain, my test infantry squad spotted them at 400m + on flat ground with trenches being marginally harder to spot than sandbags.

Empty foxholes are concealed up to about 80m which makes sense to me as they should be hard to see.

All this changes as soon as the positions become occupied. Hiding infantry in a foxhole position can be spotted and thereby engaged with direct point fire at 300m in open terrain whereas if they are hiding behind sandbags, they cannot be spotted until 200m. A trench seems to offer the best concealment for infantry with hiding infantry remaining concealed at <100m. By comparison, hiding infantry in the open can be spotted at around 300m (about the same as a foxhole!)

Hiding AT guns in the open, behind a sandbag or in a foxhole can all be spotted at 400m. An AT gun in a trench remains concealed until around 250m.

My conclusion is that trenches appear to offer the best concealment overall for the units occupying them.

I have not yet tried to repeat the experiment in brush or woodland and I have not looked at the cover offered by each fortification.

It seems to me that foxholes don't do what you'd expect them to do as simply hiding an infantry team in one increases it's visibility when surely the infantry should get the concealment benefit that the fortification offers, not the fortification's visibility being compromised by being occupied.

Is this an easily fixed issue or is it due to the way the game processes the use of fortifications?
 

JTimo

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#2
I haven't done any editor based testing on this, but in general, I tend to agree. From my game playing experiences, fortifications tend to stick out like flashing neon signs. Occupied or not doesn't seem to matter. For this reason, I don't pick them in QBs, and when I get them in scenarios, I often consider using them as decoys. I would be interested to see if they behave the same in the two different levels of forest cover. If I had to bet, I'm thinking they stick out no matter where you put them.
 

Josey Wales

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#3
From some testing I have just done with light forest, my infantry squad spotted the following fortifcations which were put about 7 action squares into the forest;

Sandbag (empty and occupied) at 60m
Foxhole (empty and occupied) at 50m
Trench (empty and occupied) at 30m

Once again, the trench is coming out as the fortification which provides the best concealment both of itself and its occupants.
 

Gnarly

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#4
Throw in the propensity for infantry to flee fortifications far too easily in v4.0 under arty HE fire, and it's had to see many benefits for them in QBs atm...
 

MOS:96B2P

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#5
Interesting topic. Fortifications also violate the fog of war. Once they are spotted the location always shows for the OpFor player. They can't always see whats in the fortification but after that initial spot the OpFor player can always see the fortification.
 

Josey Wales

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#6
All 3 types of fortifications I've been testing (Sandbag walls/Trenches/Foxholes) seem to offer the same protection from small arms. Foxholes seem to offer better protection from HE than trenches or sandbags.

However, based on what others have been saying (and probably known for years!), I have currently come to the conclusion that these fortifications are pointless for the purpose they are meant for based on the following;

1. Foxholes offer no additional concealment and sandbags advertise your position from 100's of meters away.
2. Trenches offer the best concealment for both infantry and guns and would work well if you had some as decoys, but they are very expensive, especially coming in at 1000pts for 10 trenches at standard rarity in FB.

3. Walls and hedges provide excellent concealment for infantry but not for guns.

One of the things the military is very good at is digging holes (other than litter picking the world!). It would be nice to see this reflected in the game by having greater concealment and cover offered by these "fortification's". A 17 pounder gun would take a day to dig in and should be a bitch to spot and hit.
 
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Meat Grinder

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#7
To play "devil's advocate", fortifications, especially bunkers, can be very effective in infantry only battles, as I found out in my recent mirror match against @Will S .

But yes, I agree that fortifications seem "underpowered" overall.
 
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Josey Wales

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#8
@JTimo on reading a few threads on this subject, it does seem to be popular that fortifications be used as decoys. My initial impression on this is that it seems a bit 'gamey' and I would have been reluctant to do it.

However, upon reading some articles of defensive tactics during WW2 it does seem to be part of the doctrine of German units to do precisely this and create decoy positions. If the Germans did it, then I'm sure others did it aswell. If this really is the case it means that using the fortifications as decoys is a legitimate tactic.
 

JTimo

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#9
@JTimo on reading a few threads on this subject, it does seem to be popular that fortifications be used as decoys. My initial impression on this is that it seems a bit 'gamey' and I would have been reluctant to do it.

However, upon reading some articles of defensive tactics during WW2 it does seem to be part of the doctrine of German units to do precisely this and create decoy positions. If the Germans did it, then I'm sure others did it aswell. If this really is the case it means that using the fortifications as decoys is a legitimate tactic.
Hmmm....interesting to hear of actual historical tactics on this. Regarding the gaminess of using them as decoys, my thought is that if you get foxholes or sandbags as part of a scenario, and don't feel comfortable putting your men in them, then not doing so would have as a side effect, their use as decoys.

Still your tests, and the accounts of others in this thread is that they do provide some increased level of protection, without being the neon signs I claimed. I tend to trust your, and others, tested findings over my untested impressions.
 

Bulletpoint

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#10
Fortifications need a major overhaul, and I'm frankly puzzled why they don't just go ahead and do it. It wouldn't need any extra fancy coding, because the values for cover and concealment are already there in the code. It's just a matter of changing the numbers.

Of course it would need to be playtested for balance and realism, but it's not like they are short of (volunteer) beta testers.
 

JTimo

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#11
It wouldn't need any extra fancy coding, because the values for cover and concealment are already there in the code
Yes, and for at least the foxholes, they also need need concealment that would be modified by the terrain they are in. In open ground, it might just be a matter of being in LOS to them, but in other types of terrain, they could be so concealed that they would not show until the enemy were right on top of them. A unit in a foxhole that was hidden would have the same benefit in that they would not be seen until the foxhole became visible, and even then, at distance, could remain unseen.
 

Bulletpoint

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#13
Yes, and for at least the foxholes, they also need need concealment that would be modified by the terrain they are in. In open ground, it might just be a matter of being in LOS to them, but in other types of terrain, they could be so concealed that they would not show until the enemy were right on top of them. A unit in a foxhole that was hidden would have the same benefit in that they would not be seen until the foxhole became visible, and even then, at distance, could remain unseen.
This is already in the game. If you 'hide' infantry in the middle of a road, they won't be very hidden, but if you hide in a forest they will be nearly invisible.
 

JTimo

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#14
but if you hide in a forest they will be nearly invisible.
Yes, but I was speaking of the foxhole itself. The foxhole should be less visible in some types of terrain (e.g. forests) than in others (like an open road)
 

Bulletpoint

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#15
Yes, but I was speaking of the foxhole itself. The foxhole should be less visible in some types of terrain (e.g. forests) than in others (like an open road)
I completely agree, but that's what I was trying to say: the code to make this happen is already in the game. It just doesn't seem to have been applied to the foxholes.

Also, I wonder if foxholes even give any cover against small arms at all. But of course that's another discussion.
 
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JTimo

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#16
To be honest, I'm starting to get tired of them tweaking the tired old CM2 engine. Time for a totally new engine, IMO.
C'mon Doug. The engine is a huge endeavor. A new engine, one written from scratch, would take over a year, and maybe longer. In the mean time, you'd be stuck with what you have with no enhancements. The interest level for a good chunk of the community would wain in that time, and possibly be lost forever. I'm thinking BF is on the small side, and may be risking their survival in that scenario.

Having said that, I'd like to see them lose the action square concept with all the restrictions it brings, and change targeting restrictions to allow area fire to locations that are not blocked. So, if the targeting unit can see the air above a terrain location, it should be able to area fire there. Presumably each bullet is tracked, and if bullets are flying over the heads of a unit that is hugging the ground, so be it. Right now I'm playing a scenario where I can see an elevation to my front, but I have no LOS to that location. We've all encountered this if we've played long enough. And then there are the times when I get clobbered by a tank, and when I look to see how that tank could have possibly seen mine, I can't figure it out.
 

Zinzan

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#17
C'mon Doug. The engine is a huge endeavor. A new engine, one written from scratch, would take over a year, and maybe longer. In the mean time, you'd be stuck with what you have with no enhancements. The interest level for a good chunk of the community would wain in that time, and possibly be lost forever. I'm thinking BF is on the small side, and may be risking their survival in that scenario.
(Several Problems with starting from scratch with a new Engine - CM3 if you will
1. Means starting from scratch with the "equivelant" of just CMBN - No Commonwealth, limited OOB's, new scenarios from scratch etc.
2. Bugs, Bugs, Bugs - any new software engine
takes a LOOOOOOONG time to get all the bugs out - people have problems with CM now, imagine the multitude of bugs with a wholly new engine.
3. Time - I understand that BattleFront has only 2 full time employees - only one of which is the primary coder.
4. No updates or expansions to CM2 whilst new programme worked on - NOTHING, NADA, NUTTINK.

Most importantly Battlefront are a very experienced and financially astute company and THEY can't see any way of doing it whilst ensuring survival of the company.)


To summarise : yadda-Yadda-Yadda = Battlefront know what they are doing - we hope
 
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JTimo

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#18
BattleFront has only 2 full time employees - only one of which is the primary coder.
When I said "small", I wasn't thinking that small. If your "understanding" is accurate, or even close, then they have done a great job, and we should be overjoyed to have what we do have.
 

Zinzan

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#19
I'll let "him" answer this one, this coversation is getting a bit heavy for me :cool:

(My "understanding" comes from many years following and reading the BF forums and digging down into the few posts BF have put there discussing this sort of thing. Along with many years experience in buisness and following gaming companies of all types. Most hobby companies are lucky to survive 10-15 years, it's a fickle buisness. BF have done amazingly well to survive so long.)
 
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Bulletpoint

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#20
(Several Problems with starting from scratch with a new Engine - CM3 if you will
1. Means starting from scratch with the "equivelant" of just CMBN - No Commonwealth, limited OOB's, new scenarios from scratch etc.
Nope, because the content has already been done. All the basic data is there. The OOBs take a long time to research, but they have already done this important work. The historical facts wouldn't change for a new engine.

Same thing with alle the models, they could just re-use the existing 3D art. A Sherman still looks like a Sherman.

Also all the weapons data and armour plate data etc. They have all the ingredients.

If another game company wanted to do something like Combat Mission, they could probably quickly make a sort of similar engine (bug fixing would take time of course), BUT they couldn't just recreate the huge amount of data that forms the foundation of the simulation.

The rest of your points are of course valid. A new engine would take time, and they wouldn't produce anything else meanwhile.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem to me like they are interested in doing any (fundamentally) new engine. They will keep producing new games, because new games bring income. That's an understandable and rational decision. And as long as people buy the games, why wouldn't they keep making them?