Obstacles And Fortifications
Back in the good old days, it was just mines. That’s okay with me, to quote Patton "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man". Nevertheless Steel Beasts Pro PE has them, and while they’re fairly self-explanatory regarding function there are some oddities about using them that you’ll want to remember.
There are also some neat tricks now possible with the different types of obstacles and fortifications that weren’t before. Infantry in particular has some place to go and hide, as it’s now possible to put them in bunkers. Vehicles too can be put in vehicular emplacements, and there are emplacement-types for the major combat vehicle-types.
In Steel Beasts Pro PE an obstacle is anything constructed which is designed to either hinder or stop an attacker. Pro PE will let you, the mission designer, construct seven types of obstacles. All of the obstacle-types come in one variety, except for mines, anti-tank ditches, and concertina wire. There are six types of mine available; nine really, if you count FASCAM, decoy fields, and IEDs.
All obstacles, once placed, cannot be moved and, with the exception of Mines, Anti-tank Ditches, Concertina Wire, and Steel Beams, cannot be breached. All obstacles will either stop or hinder vehicles, but only Abatis, Concertina Wire, and Mines will stop/hinder infantry. In truth, even though most minefields contain a mix of antipersonnel (AP) and antitank (AT) mine, Steel Beasts only simulates the AT variety. Therefore, technically infantry can cross any minefield and as a work around, infantry are set to avoid and bypass any detected minefields. Minefields which are undetectable (see below) will not otherwise hinder the movement of infantry units. Because of this, you may find, that the impregnable fortress of mines you’ve created for one side is in fact at least somewhat open to penetration, if infantry attempt to cross it.
The descriptions below include average "emplacement times" for scenario designers. These times assume a well equipped force with adequate engineer support and represent the effort of a typical engineer squad or platoon.
Minefields come in the following types and may cover an area from 100 x 100m up to a maximum of 600 x 100m per field:
|Conventional||These represent surface laid conventional AT blast mines. A typical NATO 100 x 100m machine-laid field will take about 24 minutes to emplace while a 600 x 100m field will take about 2.5 hours. Conversely, a hand-laid field of 100 x 100m will take about 32 hours. For Russo/Soviet forces a standard divisional engineer battalion with 3 GMZ Armored Tracked Mine Layers can lay a 1200 x 100m 3-row field in about 26 minutes.|
|Conventional buried||These represent buried conventional AT blast mines and can not be detected visually or by infantry. Both Machine-laid and hand-laid fields of this type take the same amount of time to emplace as surface laid versions.|
|Advanced||These represent surface laid minimum metal, blast resistant anti-tank mines such as the U.S. M19 or Italian VS/3.6 and TC/6. Such mines are often fitted with anti-handling devices to hamper clearance efforts and their resistance to blast over-pressure reduces the effectiveness of line-charge clearance methods. Emplacement times for these fields is the same as for conventional minefields above.|
|Advanced buried||These represent buried minimum metal, blast resistant anti-tank mines and can not be detected visually or by infantry. Emplacement times for these fields is the same as for conventional minefields above.|
|Scatter||These represent either FASCAM missions that have already been fired at mission start or hasty minefields created by non-artillery land or airborne delivery systems such as the nearly identical US M136 Volcano, Russian UMZ (Universal'ogo Minnogo Zagraditelya [universal mine-layer]), and German MiWS Skorpion systems. Such minefields may also be created by man-portable units like the M131 Modular Pack Mine System (MOPMS), or Russian PKM (Perenosnogo Komplekta Minirovaniya [portable mine system]). Typically such fields are set to self-destruct after about four hours, but the default Steel Beasts Professional implementation is non-destructible. If self-destructing minefields are necessary for a given scenario, use FASCAM instead. Emplacement times for scatterable minefields varies by system, but is generally short - 3 to 5 minutes for a 100 x 600m field. It should be noted that due to their efficacy, such systems are in high demand and typically controlled at Brigade level or higher.|
|FASCAM||For the purposes of Steel Beasts Professional the term "FASCAM" (FAmily of SCatterable Mines) refers to conventional tube or rocket artillery delivered mines, and are the only minefields that may be created during runtime. The number of FASCAM missions available in a given scenario is set by the designer, as is the duration for all such mine fields delivered during the scenario, from 15 to 180 minutes in 15 minute steps. As such missions are normally generated at Brigade level and higher, these parameters may not be altered by the player.|
|Decoy||These are decoy minefields that mimic a given type of standard mine field (Conventional/Advanced [either buried or not] or Scatter). Such minefields serve two primary functions: first, to confuse an attacker's breach cycle and, secondly, to cause an attacker to expend reduction assets on mines that are not really there. In order for decoy minefields to succeed the enemy must already be mine-conscious or suffered the consequences of a mine encounter. Therefore, decoy minefields should be employed in conjunction with real minefields to either extend the front and depth of live minefields or conceal gaps between live minefields. Emplacement times for these fields is the same as for conventional surface laid minefields but a quarter of that time to emulate a buried field.|
The various types of minefield look the same (especially the buried types), and they all perform in the same manner with any differences involving detection and clearance more than function. Some fields are easier to find than others. Some are also easier to breach than others. Note that all minefields may be set as “marked” when created in the Mission editor (rev. 4.250) and such fields will be surrounded with standard NATO minefield markings. A minefield that has been breached is not necessarily safe for other vehicles to pass through; a breached field may also need proofing, depending on the field-type. We will discuss breaching and clearing in a bit.
A minefield looks like this, in the F5 view:
While a decoy field looks like this:
The F5 view doesn’t distinguish between the various minefield-types, though in the Mission editor if you right-click on a given minefield it will tell you what type of field it is.
Special Mine Types
Introduced with revision 4.000, mission designers may place directional "command detonated" Claymore type mines. Such mines are invisible on the play field and unlike IEDs (see below) may not be detected by infantry or engineer units, but may be detected and disarmed (cleared) by engineer units on Breach routes.
A Claymore looks like this, in the F5 view:
Claymore explosions require explicit conditions determined by the scenario designer along with the presence of friendly infantry within the grey ringed 25m command radius (the length of the mine's trigger cable). Note that the red ring denotes the mine's rear danger zone and any friendly infantry within that zone will be killed.
Introduced with revision 2.21, Improvised Explosive Devices allow mission designers to place powerful explosives to simulate devices planted by irregular/insurgent forces. IED explosions require explicit conditions determined by the scenario designer when placed, but do not require the presence of a "trigger man" to work, although such a presence can be scripted if desired. IEDs are invisible on the play field, but may be detected by infantry and engineer units and may be disarmed (cleared) by engineer units with "breach" orders (rev. 4.000). Beginning with revision 4.156 the size (explosive power) IEDs may be set upon creation as multiples of existing in-sim munitions (e.g. 81mm M6C HE or 122mm OF-482 HE, etc.). Care should be taken to limit IED size to match the desired training goals as such blasts can be extremely powerful. Depending on the size of the explosion, a crater of appropriate size will be created and any targeted combatants may be completely destroyed (disappear).
When placing IEDs keep the following tips in mind:
- It is generally easier to label the IED when you create it. Then when you want to select it again you can just select the text rather than the "hit and miss" approach of selecting the IED itself.
- IEDs can be duplicated via the right-click context menu, allowing for rapid placement.
- Single IEDs composed of multiple munitions create a single crater of greater explosive force rather than multiple craters equal to the number of munitions used. If the scenario designer wishes to replicate a stick of bombs landing or multiple cratering charges being set off in series, four (or more/less) single round IEDs should be used instead of a single multi-round IED.
- IEDs are flexible tools for scenario creators. IEDs may be used to simulate demolition charges on bridges and buildings, cratering charges on roads and airfields, along with the afore mentioned scripted bombing runs.
An IED looks like this, in the F5 view:
Using Landmines as IEDs.
This section advises on what to do if you want to use a Landmine as the source of a command detonated landmine (IED).
Currently Landmines are not (yet) ammunitions (and are not selectable in the ammunitions list), but are hardcoded as a seperate entity "Landmine".
They will be selectable as ammunitions one day.
Suggested workarounds in order of preference:
Configure an IED of:
- [1 x 9M22/M21-OF]; with 6.4kg HE filler and 18kg in total
It is probably the closest match for a classic anti-tank blast mine.
Next best alternatives:
- [1 x 9M521], 7.3kg HE, 21kg in total - [1 x 9M522], 8.8kg HE, 25kg in total
Other configurations worth a consideration if you don't like the recipes above (typically yielding a smaller blast but possibly more fragments) are:
- [2 x OF-11], 5.2kg HE, 27kg in total - [2 x M57], 6kg HE, 27kg in total - [2 x OF-27 (or OF-19)], 6.2kg HE, 36kg in total - [1 x OF-540], 6.2kg HE, 43kg in total - [1 x M107], 6.6kg HE, 42kg in total- [1 x OF-45], 7.7kg HE, 43kg in total - [1 x 3OF-83], 8.2kg HE, 39kg in total
Fortifications consisting of felled trees and wire are called Abatis. Like the former they too serve to impede and channel enemy progress. Abatis cannot be cleared, and as noted earlier, infantry cannot traverse them.
On the playing field they look like this:
and on the map they appear as:
The six tree Abatis pictured above can be created (wired, blown, and mined) in about 40 minutes by a trained engineer squad.
Anti-tank ditches are used to degrade an attacking force's speed and mobility by slowing vehicles and confusing crews. Beginning with revision 4.250 scenario designers may place three different types of anti-tank ditches during scenario creation and set whether they are camouflaged or not:
Anti-tank ditches may be crossed by most tracked vehicles, but will likely involve extensive player intervention to do so; therefore, bridging assets must be used to effectively cross such obstacles. As with vehicle emplacements, the construction of anti-tank ditches is time and equipment intensive, with a single blade team (2 M9 ACE) being templated roughly 2 hours per 100m of ditch dug.
On the map anti-tank ditches appear as so with the points of the triangles representing the “enemy” side of the obstacle:
Beginning with revision 4.000, single, double, and triple strand Concertina Wire obstacles may placed by the scenario designer or laid in 10m intervals by most engineering vehicles during run time, as long as they are carrying wire rolls, or wire is being carried by nearby engineering vehicles (75m). Additionally, some form of infantry or engineering personnel (manpower) must be present for construction to begin, with the process looking like this:
- The scenario designer sets whether a vehicle is carrying wire in the mission editor.
- In game, right click on vehicle in map mode and select 'construct obstacle'.
- Select from one, two, or three strand obstacles (vehicle dependent).
- Place on map within 75m of constructing vehicle (rotate and name as necessary).
- Right click on obstacle and select 'construct'.
- Dismount engineer team or have an infantry unit within 75m of constructing vehicle (there is no animation to show them building the obstacle - but they are).
- Wait (the obstacle will flash and change colors from grey to green as it progresses).
Infantry can traverse Concertina obstacles by stepping or crawling through them, but this will slow their movement; most vehicles on normal routes will avoid Concertina when possible. Light wheeled vehicles cannot traverse such obstacles and will suffer debilitating wheel and suspension damage if attempted. Heavy wheeled APCs/IFVs, MRAPS, medium/heavy tactical trucks, and protected IMVs can generally breach single strand obstacles, but will likely suffer non-immobilizing wheel/suspension damage. Such vehicles can breach double-strand obstacles, but they will be immobilized, and they cannot breach triple-strand obstacles at all. All tracked vehicles may pass through Concertina Wire (thereby breaching the obstacle) but face a moderate to high risk of suspension damage or a thrown track based on the vehicle's speed, the number of consecutive obstacles to be crossed, and obstacle complexity.
Currently, groups of civilians will ignore wire obstacles, therefore scenario designers should make an effort to stop them from wandering into otherwise inaccessible locations. Infantry and engineer squads may breach wire obstacles if given a "breach" route through it, as will Armored Engineering Vehicles [AEV] equipped with dozer shields (such vehicles suffer no damage), although vehicles equipped with mine plows or rollers may still be damaged when breaching such obstacles (rev. 4.250).
On the playing field Concertina obstacles look like this:
|Single Strand||A single strand obstacle takes 3 minutes to emplace and 30 seconds for an infantry or engineer section to breach a 3m section.|
|Double Strand||A double strand obstacle takes 5 minutes to emplace and 45 seconds for an infantry or engineer section to breach a 3m section.|
|Triple Strand||A Triple strand obstacle takes 10 minutes to emplace (Dachs, Kodiak, and Wisent AEVs only) and require a full minute for an infantry or engineer section to breach a 3m section.|
While on the map they appear as so (single-double-triple):
Reinforced, square, tapered concrete pillars protruding from the ground are Dragon’s teeth. They serve the same function as other obstacles, in that they are designed to impede and/or channel the movement of enemy forces.
Dragon’s teeth cannot be cleared. On the playing field they look this:
and on the map they look like this:
Dragon's teeth only require transport and craning ability, therefore with the appropriate equipment the 91 dragon tooth obstacle found in Steel Beasts can be emplaced in about 2 hours.
These are fortifications consisting of three lengths of steel, set at right-angles to each other and welded together with a reinforcing plate. Also known as a Czech Hedgehog, the function of Steel Beams is similar to that of other obstacles, to channel and/or impede movement of the enemy. Steel Beams are like mines in that they can be breached with the proper breaching assets. Unlike mines, once you’ve created a breach in Steel Beams other vehicles can pass through without risk.
Steel Beams looks like this on the playing field:
and like this on the map:
Depending on whether the hedgehogs are constructed on-site or prefabricated and transported to the location, construction time for this obstacle will vary between 2 to 4 hours.
As you can see, the various types of obstacles all do about the same thing. Mines are something of an exception, in that they are also capable of destroying enemy units. However, as with other fortifications, enemy units which encounter mines will, if traveling at the right speed and with the right behavior, seek to avoid them. Enemy non-infantry units will always seek to avoid all other obstacles, regardless of speed or behavior.
In Steel Beasts Pro PE a fortification is anything constructed which is designed to provide additional protection for a unit. Fortifications come in three types: Bunkers, Vehicle emplacements, and Defensive Walls/Barriers. The first two are covered below, while walls and barriers are discussed in the Line Objects article.
Fortifications do not make a unit invincible, though in some cases they may afford more protection than does the immediate environment. Artillery, for example, can still inflict damage (or destroy, as applicable) a unit in a fortification.
A Bunker is used exclusively by infantry. Vehicles cannot use Bunkers, nor will they enter one. A Bunker cannot be affected by breaching vehicles. Infantry in Bunkers are, as noted, still susceptible to both direct- and indirect fire. This includes machine-gun fire from the front, but troops in bunkers are protected from the rear and flanks.
On the playing field a Bunker looks like this:
and on the map looks like this:
Worth noting is how Bunkers appear in normal daylight, and in the TIS. In normal daylight the bunker will appear as you see it here, a distinct mound of green with an oblong aperture at its front. In the TIS view, the mound will disappear and the color of the mound will blend almost perfectly with the color of the surrounding grass. If you approach a bunker from the front, the TIS view will show you the black oblong of the Bunker’s aperture, but if you approach an enemy Bunker from the rear you might pass it without noticing.
A bunker may be destroyed by driving a vehicle over it.
A typical three-man fighting position with overhead cover will take around 12 hours of continual work to complete with hand tools, but such positions are normally constructed in stages over a longer period, so scenario designers should budget 24 to 48 hours for bunker construction. Assuming some kind of mechanical digging assistance, this time could be effectively halved.
These come in three flavors - filled with sand, filled with air, filled with office space:
- Sand provides cover and concealment.
- Air provides concealment, and cover against small arms at medium and long ranges.
- Accommodation/office containers simulate containerized field camps, and burn if hit by HE rounds.
With the exception of the ability to alter the container's base color, they all look the same, although accommodation/office containers placed in the Map Editor will have the appropriate appearance (rev. 4.156). Something which is on the list (tm) is to apply this functionality to containers placed in the Mission Editor.
These are, as the name suggests positions for a vehicle to fight from. Their primary advantage is that they offer some protection from direct fire, usually shielding most or all of a vehicle’s chassis and exposing only the turret.
Vehicle emplacements (VE) can be created in the Mission Editor for specific vehicle-types; the game assumes that if you’re creating a VE for a T-55A, for instance, you will be able to use it for all members of the T-55 family including the T55AM and AM2. VE can be created as one- and two-tier fortifications, the difference being that a two-tier emplacement completely hides the vehicle, while the one-tier sort hides only the lower parts of the vehicle. VE can also be created with camouflage. When placing, a reference tool (similar to the LOS bubble for regular battle positions) is provided to specify the lowest point that can be targeted from the emplacement for which the vehicle was made (rev. 4.156). Be sure to preview your placements to ensure that the position is useful for engaging targets in your intended area.
As of revision 4.156 Armored Engineering Vehicles (AEV) may dig VE during runtime. Scenario designers may specify the completion percentage of a Vehicle Emplacement when placed in the Mission Editor, allowing for fully (100%) completed defensive works at the start of a scenario or partially completed (0-90%) works that may then fully completed during runtime along with whether the VE is camouflaged or not.
AEV's will automatically move to excavate unfinished vehicle emplacements within their construction radius (200m) either at mission start or upon reaching any un-linked waypoint with any tactics except "Stay".
For AEVs that have crew positions available (Pionierpanzer 3 and Wisent AEV) only the Commander's (F7) and Gunner/Engineer's (F6) positions may be occupied while the AEV is digging a position. The speed at which emplacements can be constructed can be specified from the right-click context menu during scenario design, and the time to construct such emplacements is shown below:
|Emplacement Type||Dig Speed||Time to Build|
|Two-Tier||Normal||1 Hour 15 Minutes|
Note that although the 1 hour 15 minute dig time for a two-tier fighting position is realistic given ideal conditions and an experienced crew, a single blade team (2 M9 ACE) is templated 4 hours to dig a two-tier fighting position for an M1 tank with 2 to 3 hours being the average. A standard U.S. combat engineer company has three such teams and will normally take about 14-20 hours to dig-in a single tank-mech company depending on ground conditions whereas an equivalent number of AEVs (6) digging simultaneously will achieve the same feat in about 4 hours in-sim.
On the playing field VE look generally similar, like this:
and on the map look like:
Vehicles will automatically use the turret-down position in a two-tier emplacements if they are told to hold fire, if they are on certain tactics, reloading etc. You can manually order a vehicle to drive into the lower (back) tier position by pressing the 'x' (drive backward) key - double-tapping that key will tell the AI driver to leave the emplacement.
Fortifications and obstacles are placed on the map as if they were any other playable unit. An obstacle can be placed anywhere on the map, even in water. You won’t see it on the map if it’s not a minefield, but the obstacle will be there and an amphibious unit which attempts to swim through an obstacle placed in water will be affected just as if both it and the obstacle were on dry ground. This goes for mines, too.
To my knowledge there is no upper limit regarding how many of any particular obstacle or you wish to place on the map. I say ‘to my knowledge’ because I’ve heard at least one source state that he wanted to place more mines than the game would allow. I tried doing the same; I gave up before the game stopped me, at around 220 individual minefields. Even if the limit is 221, that’s still a lot more minefields than you’ll find a practical need for.
Obstacles can dramatically alter the balance of a mission and should be placed sparingly. It’s too easy to adopt a fortress mentality; obstacles are like potato chips in that you can’t stop at just one. If you must have obstacles in your mission, place them sparingly. If you think you have enough, you probably have too many. If you think you need more, you probably have enough.
That said there’s no formulaic answer I know of to the question ‘How many is enough?’ Every mission is different, though for experimentation purposes you might have some fun putting down first one or two obstacles and observing how they affect play by running a test. When the test is complete, add a couple more, then watch what the increase does to the other side. You should be able to arrive at some rough answer regarding how many are enough, though again that quantity will change with the mission and with the type(s) of obstacles you decide to place.
There are two uses for obstacles in a mission. They can be used as a blocking obstacle or a steering obstacle. A blocking obstacle does just what it says, blocks the enemy from getting to a certain place, where a steering obstacle is meant to direct the enemy into a certain area, ie; a kill zone.
The mission designer may specify if an obstacle is static or may be placed by the user in the mission's planning phase (either in any place or restricted to deployment zones). Right-click on an obstacle and select the desired option:
The designer can also decide if an obstacle should be visible to the enemy side during the planning phase. To do so, right-click on an obstacle and check the "Visible while planning" option:
Steel Beasts Pro PE provides assets which can breach certain types of obstacles. Usually these vehicles are equipped to deal with minefields, but in some cases they can also deal with steel beams and concertina wire. Demo missions are available which go into detail regarding the use of these vehicles, therefore the specifics will not be covered here.
The demo missions regarding breaching will tell you that certain obstacles (specifically minefields) are not necessarily safe only because a path has been cleared through them. Minefields must be proofed before they are considered safe, which means that an engineer vehicle or squad (rev. 4.000) must be sent through whatever breach is created to ensure that the field is in fact safe.
A breach must first be created in a minefield before it can be proofed. Steel Beasts includes four types of elements capable of creating breaches: mine-rollers, mine-plows, MICLIC, and engineer squads. The first two are pretty self-explanatory; the third is actually an M113 or dedicated engineer vehicle towing a trailer which carries a line charge. This charge is deployed by a rocket, which un-spools the charge from the trailer and lays it across the minefield in question. The charge then detonates, creating the breach.
Both plow and roller equipped vehicles will do the same thing, and which one you include in your missions will largely be a matter of taste. Watching the MICLIC lay its charge is cool, and it’s cool to watch it blow up, but the vehicle towing the charge is a PC, and is vulnerable to pretty much everything in the game equipped with a cannon, not to mention artillery. The plow and roller tanks are tanks, and can stand up to at least a little more punishment than can the MICLIC.
Engineer squads are just that, six to eight sappers equipped with rifles, mine detectors, wire cutters, and various pioneer tools. When given breech orders they can create openings in wire obstacles and clear track-width paths through mine fields. Being fleshy meatbags, they are vulnerable to every battlefield hazard short of spitwads, and should only be used for breaching operations in very close terrain, preferably under the cover smoke or better yet, darkness.
Note that not all breaching assets can do the same thing. The mine-plow can breach minefields just like the mine-roller, and can go a little faster through the fields at that. On the other hand, both the plow and the MICLIC can create a gap in steel beams. The roller and engineer squads can’t.
Care should be used when employing the MICLIC. The explosive charge that creates the breach can also potentially harm units on the other side of the obstacle. While testing function for this article, a mine-plow vehicle that had made it through a gap it had created in some steel beams was destroyed by the charge laid by a MICLIC. Pretty entertaining, and not a little instructive.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Updated for wiki 4/7/07: Sean
--Sean 04:53, July 17, 2008 (UTC)