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Author Topic: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine  (Read 2185 times)

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Offline choppinlt

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Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« on: May 30, 2017, 07:21:47 PM »
I have not posted about this yet in the main thread, but at 1030 a company of Fallschirm in reserve with a newly arrived company of Stugs will engage a US infantry battalion that is recovering and preparing the next attack. Christian Knudsen and his opponent have volunteered to fight this battle out using Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). More details about the engagement will be shared, plus an after action report will be included in this thread.

I am still waiting to see if we have any volunteers to fight Tactical Wargamer in one of the other engagements using Combat Mission. Please speak up if interested! You can reply here or PM me.

-choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 08:24:04 PM »
This is great news. I really enjoy reading these posts   :book

thanks for taking the time to make them  :thumbsup

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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2017, 12:39:19 AM »
In the next day or two I should be finished generating the 2 OBs in ASL - I've been working on it a few days, but the process has highlighted a few inconsistencies and problems in the ruleset I generated, so there has been some revision there.

The big issue has been artillery.  Players of ASL will know that OBA can be pretty powerful and decisive.  ASL tends use "modules" of OBA that represent the fire of an offboard artillery battery.  But in this battle, the Americans, for instance, have access to 8 batteries of various calibre firing in support.  This is historical, but I feel it might be pretty unmanageable for ASL (and maybe CM too!)  So I am going to try a system where having access to more than a given number of batteries increases the effectiveness (ammunition level, in ASL terms) of each module.  So the Amis will go from 8 modules to 4, but these will have more ammo and therefore be more effective and easier to use.

I am a little conflicted here; I really feel that 8 batteries will be too much to handle, but on the other hand I might be wrong.  On the other other hand, the Americans in this operation can get a LOT of artillery on call, certainly with potential for more than 8 batteries in an engagement, so my feeling is that some sort of translation will have to be done.  This is why we playtest!

Anyhoo, I hope to have the OBs done and the ruleset adjusted by tomorrow evening, and then we will start getting into setup.  The ASL AAR will be nowhere near as detailed as last time - turn summaries instead of an exhaustive blow by blow account.  We want to have fun playing, but my main goal is to test-drive the major places that TO interfaces with ASL - pre-enagement, engagement resolution (in particular how the engagement ends), and post-engagement results.  Of particular interest is seeing how closely the results dovetail with what Matt's resolution algorithms come up with!

« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 02:36:22 AM by Christian Knudsen »

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 03:29:36 PM »
Thanks CK, for doing this and your efforts!  :) Using ASL as yet another tactical system perfectly illustrates what I am trying to do when I say "you can use any tactical system you want to resolve combat." While Combat Mission has been my primary focus, any tactical system will work...and I want people to try them. One area we havn't seen are miniatures. If there are any microarmor or 15mm (like Flames of War)...or any others out there, feel free to speak up and join in.

Building off your comments, it will be interesting to see how this type of scenario works. Specifically I mean the fact that this engagement is merely a spoiling attack to throw the Amis off balance and disrupt the flow. In other words this isn't about seizing objectives, it is about being a pain in the butt without risking many casualties.

CORRECTION on the amount of arty available for the Amis. I may have misinformed you CK, but they have 5 batteries at their disposal (up to 7 were likely to respond). They have 2-105's, 2-4.2-inch mortars, and a battery of 155's. This builds in to my point below...

Arty is a tricky thing to balance. So I am always trying to tweak how arty works within ToO. This scenario is a good example. The US Inf Bn being attacked has a bn of 105's, a co of 4.2-in (i.e. 3 batteries), and a battery of 155's that are in "dedicated" support. The current concept is that dedicated arty only responds to fire missions from the unit they are supporting in the attack or defense. Due to the situation (cohesion loss, etc) the infantry only received 5 batteries. It turns out that is all the arty the US needs to beat back the attack, BUT if the Germans had attacked with a much stronger force the US infantry would have been eligible to receive arty from direct and general support too. So the question I need to evaluate is whether or not this concept represents reality, or does it require some tweaks?  :-\ Anyone, feel free to comment...

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2017, 11:14:27 PM »
Matt and I have been firing emails back and forth in the last 24 hours or so, and he asked me to re-create the discussion we have been having here on the forum, I assume to hopefully generate further discussion.  So here we go!

Hey Matt

I was wondering how you intend to handle artillery preregistration.  I see this being an issue in any system (CM, ASL) that has this capability or something like it.

I have a mechanism for giving the defenders pre-registered hexes, they will just buy them with fortification points, much like CM.   Alternatively, we could award them on a per posture level - none for exposed or hasty, one for prepared, two for fortified.

For the attacker they are slightly more problematic, as the attacker will not receive fortification points, and for CM will likely not get points to purchase TRPs.  Is there some mechanism in TO whereby one can task a battery to pre-registration in a given area?  Is this historical?  Part of the deal is that you need pre-registered hexes in order to lay barrages in ASL.  I can change that, make it so that laying a barrage occupies a module for the length of the engagement, but this would involve some additional house-ruling.

What do you think?

As an aside, I have the OBs (less OBA) generated, and once we resolve the OBA issue I will start posting that stuff and carrying on.

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2017, 01:56:08 PM »
...and my retort.  :D

Great question, and one that I think I have an answer to. In short it sounds like you have the same basic ideas I have. For this scenario the Amis have no pre-registration. Registration is determined by a number of things. In ToO an arty unit can be given a Registration fire mission. This links an arty unit to a ground unit (i.e. the arty is more likely to respond to fire mission requests while defending). This implies that the defending unit would get 1 or 2 registration points.

Beyond that registration is determined by unit posture, with cohesion, leadership and experience being factors. Units that are in a "prepared" posture get 1or 2 registration pts on the tactical level. Fortified posture gets 2 or 3 registration pts. FYI, I am talking from a CM battlefield perspective. ASL and other games may need to tweak the number of registration points based on how their system works. Which means that I assumed that attackers received no pre-registration.

I don't recall the mechanism for arty in ASL, however it seems to me that attackers can simply write down and declare where and when they want their prep bombardments to occur in the pre-game. The attacker then conducts missions with on-call arty without registration pts. Does that work or make sense?

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2017, 02:12:13 PM »
I imagine registration missions would be pretty closely tied to posture anyways - So a registration mission would allow a unit to get TRP/Preregistration, the number of which would then be determined by posture (as it took time to conduct pre-registration fires, etc).  I imagine the way soft factors would affect this is by adjusting the speed at which a unit increases its defensive posture?

 There is nothing wrong with the attacker in a scenario having no registration, I've no idea how historical it was, especially considering counter-battery fires, but if we are denying TRPs to attackers, then we need to make some minor shifts.

Right now, pre-registration does a few things for you in ASL.  It makes battery access easier, it vastly increases the accuracy of spotting rounds, and  allows one to call a fire-for effect without having to first place a spotting round at all, if one wishes.  It also allows the use of barrages (A linear OBA mission, essentially) and creeping barrages.  These are only allowed if the attacker has a pre-registered hex, so if we are not allowing these for engagement attackers, we might need to have a mechanism in TO that would allow an attacker to set this up.  Or we could just say no barrages allowed for the attacker, although that would deny the attacker some interesting options for laying down smoke curtains and such.

There is also a bombardment mechanism, where most of the map gets attacked by a 2 morale check before the battle kicks off.  I have chosen to represent this by the following:

3.12 PRE-SCENARIO BOMBARDMENT:

A TO engagement preceded within a two-hour period by a bombardment from an artillery battery or batteries of over 100mm that fire(s) an Area Fire or  Bombardment mission,  or any Specific Target or Air Bombardment mission, may cause damage to defender fortifications and the map terrain.  Note that damage to defending units due to pre-engagement bombardment is already calculated by TO, so only terrain/fortifications can be damaged in this step.  Once the scenario defender has completed setup, but prior to the scenario attacker doing so, a bombardment is conducted per C1.8, except that only terrain and fortifications are affected.  In addition, any fortification counter not addressed in C1.822 (EX: Trench, Foxhole, Sangar, Panji) if in a bombardment hex is is attacked with a ML of 9. Any unit in a hex in which terrain/fortifications are damaged/eliminated is unaffected, but may be re-setup as desired by the defender, and will retain/gain concealment if able to do so as normal prior to attacker setup.  If the bombardment is conducted by an artillery battery ≤ 155mm, and/or by an aerial bombardment conducted by a bomber unit, then all terrain/fortification MC are at -1.

Long story short, the bombardment happens in TO, the unit is affected by it there and in the force generation process as per, and then the terrain gets attacked to represent the bombardment.  This has nothing to do with pre-registration, btw, just another thing that the system can do.

Barrages are what I now need to tweak though, and why I need to know how this would be handled in TO.

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2017, 02:45:17 PM »
Your assumptions are correct about soft factors, speed, etc. Attackers didn't typically have true TRP's, but they could spend lots of time carefully planning, plotting and surveying where they wanted their planned bombardments to go.While it was less than optimal, it is very reasonable to assume that planned bombardments on the attack are going to be near or on the intended target area. Historically speaking, TRP's on the attack are a possibility though.

I see this as an ASL transitioning issue. Having some explanation of ToO, how do you accurately reflect what you are trying to accomplish? Does the declaration of pre-planned missions completely resolve the issue? E.g. Pre-planned Fire Mission Sheet: Turn 1-1 Btty of 155's hits hex 1746 (centerpoint) with HE; Turn 2-the 155's switch to hex 1751 (centerpoint) with HE (representing a creeping barrage), 1 Btty 105's hits hex 2021 (centerpoint) with HE; Turn 3, 1 Btty 4.2-In mortars hit hex 1649 (centerpoint) with smoke....etc. Anything that is NOT pre-planned must be called in with spotting, etc.

Or you could allow registration points with special stipulations for the attacker in ASL. I don't recommend TRP's for the attacker in CM due to how they work, but CM certainly allows pre-planned bombardments.

Thoughts, questions?

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2017, 04:26:18 PM »
I think the level of detail you are talking about here in terms of pre-planned missions is way more than is required, honestly, and is already achievable by using ASL's pre-registration rules, hexes for which must be plotted before the other side sets up.

Perhaps we just allow attackers who have dedicated battery support to have access to a barrage (creeping or otherwise) or a pre-registered hex that would be only usable on Turn 1, 2, 3, or whatever, so long as you indicated it before setup, but then penalize such use by severely limiting what that battery (module) would be able to do afterward, by adjusting the battery access chit draw.  So you would get your barrage or pre-reg hex for one turn, but afterward you would have a hard time getting anything out of that module, and nothing before.  And if the battle ends before it's fired?  Too bad.

Bombardments I see as totally different.  A Bombardment is something that happens before the engagement starts, affects the targeted unit in TO only (said effects affecting the ASL OOB when the engagement OB is built), and is only resolved "in" ASL vs the terrain.  What I am talking about above only happens during the engagement itself.

The question then becomes whether we allow artillery batteries to fire "offensive preregistration" missions, and whether that would be at all historical.  If we don't allow this, and I can see some reasons why we wouldn't, how do we represent the sort of "planning, plotting, and surveying" that certainly took place before an offensive, i.e. an artillery fireplan?  And is it worth representing this at the tactical resolution scale we are looking at, or do we just leave attacker pre-reg out of it, let the artillery do pre-engagement bombardments in TO however they like, and then give the attacker an option to use barrages as above?

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2017, 05:45:07 PM »
In ToO, 'dedicated' artillery is any battery that has been assigned to a specific Bn or BG for their use only. A time delay (for planning and integration with the assigned unit) is necessary before an arty unit can be 'dedicated'. Once that planning time has elapsed the unit has access to that battery (or batteries). Dedicated arty is the only arty that a unit on the attack may receive. Units on the defensive can receive fire support from dedicated, direct and general support assets. And you are correct, pre engagement bombardments are accounted for in ToO before an engagement commences meaning the effects are already assessed in to the transition information. You have some good ideas regarding the impact on fortifications though.

After hearing more, I am inclined to say yes to some sort of pre game registration for the attackers in ASL. Again, my issue is with CM and how TRP's work. I think what you are doing can be accomplished in a couple of ways. Having a Fire Plan would be a great way to accomplish it IMHO. But it looks like you have some great ideas regarding prereg that covers it well. Further thoughts?  :)

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2017, 05:36:05 PM »
Ok - now we are caught up!

So thinking about it, I think I will do the following: 

Each attacker dedicated battery used in a single OBA module will come with one free pre-registered hex which may be used only by that module.  The attacker may use a barrage or creeping barrage as per E12.  An attacker module with a pre-registered hex never receives an additional black chit per C1.73.  Since only dedicated batteries in TO may fire in support of an attack, more than one battery must share a single pre-registered hex in order to go together as a module as per the TO OBA rules.  (EX:  The attacking German has three dedicated batteries of 105mm medium artillery in support.  He thus receives one module with plentiful ammo and one pre-registered hex, usable only for that module.)

For the defender, it is possible to have non-dedicated modules firing in support.  These never receive pre-registered hexes.  Dedicated supporting modules are treated as a separate category, and are awarded pre-registered hexes depending on the defending unit's posture, with units in an exposed or hasty defensive posture receiving none, units in a prepared posture getting one per module, and units in a fortified posture receiving two per module.  Defender pre-registered OBA also does not receive the C1.73 black chit bonus, and modules may never share use of another module's pre-registered hex.  (EX:  A defending American unit receives support from 5 batteries of 105mm artillery, of which two are dedicated, and 1 battery of dedicated 81mm mortars.  The unit is in a prepared posture.  It will receive 1 module of normal ammo 100+ OBA with one pre-registered hex, 1 battery of plentiful 100+ artillery with no pre-registered hex, and 1 scarce battery of 81mm OBA with a preregistered hex.)

tl;dr?  Basically modules still have to go together by type in order to limit the amount of OBA on the battlefield.  Pre-registered hexes will be common, but are limited in that they can't be shared between modules.  Limits imposed by the time it takes to get "dedicated" support, and to dig in and get a better defensive posture, should make OBA a major but hopefully not overpowering factor on the battlefield. 

One thing slightly worries me, however, and that is how to integrate non-dedicated supporting batteries.  You mentioned that the Amis would have been eligible for more support if required.  But this sort of pre-supposes that the battle is fought by TO before I resolve it in ASL!  Really, the American side here should have access to absolutely everything that COULD provide it fire support, taking into account cohesion, etc.  Whether the American player chooses to use all of it is another question, but they should have the option.  So how do we then stop them from doing so, and making the tactical resolutions nothing but massive OBA-fests?  I can think of a couple ways.

1.  Make the penalty for use of non-dedicated support pretty hefty in TO somehow, so that the player is a little leery about using it (and general support in general).  Whether this be an extra cohesion and/or supply hit is another question.
2.  Make general support be less likely/effective in tactical resolution terms.  In ASL we can do this by playing with the chit draw pile, so that it is less likely that it makes an appearance. 

Any other ideas?



Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2017, 05:00:54 AM »
OK, I will take your word for it on a lot of this ASL stuff! ;)

So yes, in ToO attackers will only receive arty support from dedicated batteries. Defenders can receive from any eligible batteries, however there are many factors that weigh in when deciding if a battery will respond to a fire support request.

To your question, it is important to know that fire mission requests (FMR's) are established before a battle commences. Said differently, when a battle starts all artillery support has been determined for that engagement. This is important when establishing an OOB for the engagement. In the case of this scenario the Amis already have all the artillery they need (and more) already dedicated to that unit, so it doesn't go any further. But we can take this case a step further by assuming that the German attack is far more severe and the dedicated arty is not enough according to the battle algorithms. The Ami Bn would be eligible to receive additional support from direct and general assets too, but again this is all established pre-engagement. Make sense?

Furthermore, I want to add that there is a Registration Fire Mission that can be assigned to arty batteries. This helps to link a battery with a unit in defense, without making it 'dedicated'. So completing this FM will increase the likelihood a battery will respond if available. It is also assumed that the defending unit will receive some TRP's in CM or preregistration in ASL. OTOH, creating the registration point has some risks like counterbattery fire, or otherwise giving your position away. And registration takes time, meaning the battery is unavailable to pound on the enemy if needed. Lastly, if the unit with the registration or the artillery unit move the registration is lost.

Then there is the impact of unit posture. Units in a prepared for fortified posture are also assumed to have some registration points as well as we have previously mentioned. Does all this help?

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2017, 03:39:37 PM »
Ok.  I think I am going to keep it the way it is at the moment, although I am toying with the idea of requiring attackers to pre-plan their pre-registered fires.  That really complicates things, however, because then I have to figure out how to treat the module outside of the planned fire, ie. is that module available for fires before/after the planned fire, and what will that look like.  And since I'm not allowing off-board observers, which make pre-registered hexes really ridiculous, the attacker is still going to have to get to where he can see the hex to make use of it, which I think will mitigate the effect a bit.

Defender pre-reg.  Sheesh, I'm torn here.  I know that historically, we should have a ton of pre-registered hexes/TRPs for the defender.  But where do we hit the point at which it becomes overpowering and makes the tactical resolution no fun for the attacker?  Right now your system, if I understand it correctly, units get TRPs from dedicated units, from registered units, and from the posture if applicable.  That's a ton of TRPs, especially considering CM (and ASL, though I can work around it) offers no way to exclude batteries from TRPs - what's there is available to all.  So considering the amount of batteries on call, and the amount of TRPs available, I worry that artillery will have a massive effect on the engagement.

Now in CM this is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that batteries run out of ammo.  This does not happen in ASL at all, instead it's randomized.  A module might never fire, as it's radio malfunctions, or it fails two battery access chit draws.  Or it can fire mission after mission, putting rounds down in just about every fire phase of every turn with a bit of luck.

So for defender fires I think I am only going to allow pre-registered hexes to dedicated batteries firing in support of prepared or fortified units.  Registration fires will be (for ASL purposes), a TO-only thing, allowing the defender an increased chance of getting a battery's (non-dedicated) support.  So for this battle, the Germans will get 3 OBA modules, 2 with scarce and 1 with plentiful ammo.  Each module will have access to 1 pre-registered hex.  The Americans also have 3 modules, 2 with normal and 1 with scarce ammo, with no pre-registered hexes.  Note that this is still a lot of OBA for both sides, and the Americans can make life very uncomfortable for the Germans with it, it just won't be as devastating as having pre-registered hexes would be.

We will see how it goes!

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2017, 08:29:38 PM »
Yeah, it will be interesting to see how it comes together for ASL. After all, if it doesn't quite right then it can be tweaked!  ;D

Going back a few posts ago, you will note that I mentioned no number greater than 3 for TRP's. In fact I was thinking about a max of 4 under any circumstance for CM battles. Just to clarify, a Registration FM will allow a unit to get a TRP that may not otherwise have one. E.g. Hasty unit posture. Or units that gain them due to posture may get an extra TRP. Limiting TRP's is for the exact reason you are talking about. Getting a good balance is key, because on one hand you know that artillery can be a critical factor that is the difference between victory or defeat. OTOH, you don't want tactical battles to strictly turn in to planning the next fire mission. For CM I am less concerned about the number of batteries available and more concerned with the TRP's because of how they work.

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Counterattack at Belle Fontaine
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2017, 02:10:34 AM »
Ok, I am a bit confused as to how support and pre-reg works.  Does a dedicated support battery automatically get pre-registration, or is pre-registration pretty much solely dependent on whether a battery has fired a registration mission for a given defending unit? 

Right now I am assuming that dedicated = registered, but if this is not the case (and dedicated is more of a command/control thing), it actually makes my life quite a bit easier, as pre-registration will be solely dependent on whether a registration mission has been completed, and then bonus pre-reg hexes would be awarded for the posture level, as you were planning.

I would lean toward 1 hex/battery for hasty and prepared, and 2 for fortified, just to try and keep the numbers down.