streakeagle Posted January 7, 2012 Share Posted January 7, 2012 From the time I first got Steel Beasts, I played through the tutorials and experimented with some small missions I made, but have mainly played the M1 quick mission as a gunner (for me, it plays like Battle Zone, which is a good thing). However, with the release of 2.642, I have started working on learning how to play the game as an overall commander from the map.I played "cold war gone hot" board games and miniatures from the early 80s. I know the units, the order of battle, the formations, and the tactics used at various levels of abstraction: units scaled at 1:1, platoon, battalion, and even division level. However, all of this knowledge is difficult to apply in this sim.The "Hasty Defense 01 (US)" scenario is nearly identical to my favorite scenarios I played over and over with miniatures and board games. So, I have been repeatedly playing this scenario to learn how to translate the strategy and tactics I already know into "plans" and "routes" on the map.In most of the games I have played, a platoon of 4 M1s can easily wipe out a company or two of 10 T-72/T-80s trying to advance on their position. Getting similar results with this sim has been a challenge:1) Very few of the board games or miniature rules bothered to keep track of ammo and for those that did, ammo was usually not a factor as the M1s were always accurate enough to hit almost every time and eliminate all enemy forces before either side had to worry about ammo. In this Steel Beasts' scenario, getting the M1's fully loaded out and keeping them resupplied well enough to hold out for 1 hour has proven to be a significant key to winning. If the supply unit is eliminated or is too far away for depleted units to access, the enemy will simply drive right by and win.2) Board games and miniatures rules are turn based and rarely have time limits for each players turn. There was usually no need to have detailed battle plans when one player controls all the units for one side, as the player can take all the time he needs to evaluate terrain, lines of sight, movement paths, etc. Effectively, all units are in perfect communication at all times and can immediately take the best course of action. In Steal Beasts, the player has to constantly hop around from unit to unit. While focused on any one spot, another area might be getting overrun and the AI may not be handling as well as it could under player control. With a well thought out battle plan and detailed routes, the AI handles combat and movement much better in the absence of player attention.3) Units in board games and miniatures rules only do EXACTLY what you want them to unless they are suppressed, broken, or destroyed. The AI may be better now than it has ever been, but it is nowhere near smart enough to receive vague directives and get the desired results. I constantly have to go to the 3d view to make sure units have a good line of sight while maintaining good cover/hull down AND make sure no units are stuck or bogged down by terrain features. A T-72 may be at point blank range and about to fire on an M1, but the M1 either doesn't see it or refuses to engage it due to some other AI logic taking precedence. Of course the enemy AI sees the M1 and promptly toasts it with a single point-blank shot. Basic tasks like marching on a road, shifting to a battle line, and engaging the greatest threat first are so easy to accomplish in board games, but can be very difficult to achieve in Steel Beasts. I have gotten the best results whenever I break the units down to single tanks and continuously micromanage their positions. But I can't always jump around fast enough to solve all of the immediate/critical situations. When you only have 10 M1s to stop the horde, merely losing one too early can start a domino effect that leads to a total defeat.So, I have only won the "Hasty Defense 01 (US)" scenario twice so far. The first victory (last week) was a slaughter: I lost only one M1 and almost killed every enemy asset on the map. In my second victory tonight, I lost 3 M1s and the enemy had substantially more units still alive and probing for an opening in my defenses. The AAR for the first victory is corrupt. But having viewed the AAR for the second victory, I can see that if I had not run out of time, I was probably going to kill just about everything without any units breaking through.In both victories, the keys to success were:1) A battle plan with extensive waypoints and routes laid out and saved to make replaying the scenario and fine tuning the plan as easy as possible. I like using the guard tactic with a series of automatic retreats to alternate positions rather than trying to hold a fixed position and getting obliterated by an artillery strike. The more time spent learning the terrain and sprinkling the map with plenty of alternative battle positions, the better the results.2) Loading up all the M1s with full ammo prior to following routes to their assigned positions.3) Breaking up M1 platoons into individual tanks to provide greater depth and width of coverage and to minimize losses due to artillery strikes. Individual tanks are more likely to find and hold a good hull down position with a decent line of sight.4) Luck. Sometimes the AI executes my battle plan as well as I wanted or even better than expected. But most of the time, some AI limitation results in an M1 either out of the fight while stuck on a terrain feature or getting blind sided and killed by a tank that it should have seen and killed. As great as Steel Beasts is (there simply is no competition for realism, detail, or gameplay), the AI requires far too much player intervention to function realistically. Even a lowly platoon leader should not have to worry about making sure his unit follows him on a road or get in a proper firing position with a good line of sight and good cover. I am not talking about board games versus Steel Beasts, but real life versus a supposed simulation. I understand the AI should require good orders from the player for the sim to teach tactics, but should a company commander have to "jump" to a unit that is hung on a terrain feature to back it up and get it back on it route? Should a CO have to "jump" to each tank and verify it is in cover/hull down AND doesn't have its line of sight severely blocked by a tree or a building?I am trying to be the overall CO and not a gunner or TC, so I am not assuming any crew positions, just using observer view or watching things unfold on the map. However, sometimes I have to manually position a unit and/or struggle to get it to see a nearby tank rather than engaging a distant BRDM. Yet, for all the trouble I have getting my units to be effective, the enemy AI seems to be much more effective aside from a few units getting stuck on narrow paths/roads.When things do go as planned, I have a lot of fun watching Soviet armor getting shredded with little or no chance to retaliate. Take me back to so many games I played so many years ago... 0 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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