Close Combat - Playing a Mod29 May 2014 0
This is a look at the Battle for Caen mod for The Longest Day. I will be playing a grand campaign. This is not a review, more like a look at the mod and engine it?s running on. Battle for Caen is an adaptation of the Invasion Normandy mod, Gold Juno Sword. Dima took this mod and created Total Realism Submod (TRSM) for Invasion Normandy. Then, with Nikins help it was ported to The Longest Day and renamed Battle for Caen. Caen on the strategic map has always been a defensive anchor for the Germans so the name is still fitting. The map is excellent for defence due to the four bridges and all the cover the city provides. Nikin and Dima have released version 0.93, and are working on another update.
Battle rebuilds and end timer crashes are mostly a thing of the past now, I have not come across a single crash! Invasion Normandy also forced us to not get ahead of our opponent in the strategic phase or you would suffer a game freeze. So no longer do we have to follow the "execute, next next" routine. Taking all these fixes into account, the first feeling Battle for Caen gave me was relief. The next feeling was familiarity. Seeing the old and trusted Gold Juno Sword strategic map in TLD was great. Now I feel like I am playing Invasion Normandy with all the fixes that made online play a bit difficult.
I decided to play the default Grand Campaign with 15 minute games. Germans are on recruit and as Allies, I set myself to elite. The campaign is setup with two turns per day, and no night battles, another relief for me! The AI had all realism settings checked. Full enemy info, always obey orders, no initiative (for me as well) and always see enemy. Morale was turned off. Let?s go into more detail on these settings and why I chose them.
Always See The Enemy - Maximum advantages are given to the AI since we all know it?s incredibly unintelligent. Having this on created one major change you have to adapt for. At the beginning of almost every match I came under intense mortar barrages. When my men got up to run they were mortared very quickly. If I started a map with my men in ambush the barrage wouldn?t come, although they did mortar each of my anti tank guns.
No Initiative - Not sure how the AI reacts to this, as initiative is AI controlled for both sides anyways.
Always Have Full Enemy Info - I am giving the AI another advantage. Again I am not too sure how it uses this information.
Always Obey Orders - This option doesn't help the AI that much. Battles are fairly quick and once German units were spotted they were generally decimated rather quickly. Their self preservation was usually going prone and crawling in a random direction until they died.
Morale was off more or less due to habit. Having morale on would give the AI more battles per map theoretically. However my plan was to surround enemy battle groups and whittle them down bit by bit without giving them the opportunity to retreat or disband due to morale failure. Cut off units being disbanded by force morale would probably result in the loss of more vehicles and infantry quicker than manually beating them down.
As the campaign started my plan for the first few days was to race with or without supply to the Western edge of the map. No consideration would be given to the well being of my troops. All enemy units will be bypassed no matter what the tactical or strategic situation was. I will not be resting or reinforcing any battle groups for the entire campaign. No teams with wounded or missing soldiers will be brought into action on subsequent battles, they will always been swapped out for a fresh team. I'll search for heroes at the end. Once my main line of attack reached Bayeux and Caen I will start to disband German battle groups.
Bypassing was simple to do on most maps. Gold Beach gave a little surprise. Vehicles cannot travel through the dirt road that divides the wall. I was able to get some very tired recon teams to the exit VL anyways. Ouistreham took a full day to bypass as I was not able to make it to the exit VL in 15 minutes. There are a bunch of natural barricades blocking vehicle traffic. The German unit here was disbanded on the second battle. No other maps gave any surprises or were difficult to bypass, some other did require two battles though. Sword Beach also gave a surprise. When given a move order to the Western edge of the map, my tanks went around the minefield automatically.
On the afternoon of June 6th, my tanks automatically go around the mine field on Sword Beach.
The final minutes of the AI battle group in Ranville. This Airborne battle group will become severely depleted due to this fight and its onslaught onto the next map.
Bois Du Bavent. My Airborne battle group here is was up against the 125/21 for quite some time. I purposely did not attempt to disband the AI, instead keeping him quarantined in the bottom left corner. The AI?s area has thick hedges and multiple bunkers to defend from. Keeping the Germans penned up still results in quite a few casualties.
From the first three days I learned some lessons about the Battle for Caen mod and The Longest Day engine. German MG teams are extremely hard to suppress. Indirect fire from mortars and vehicles, landing only meters away failed to have a noticeable effect. This includes fire from the Centaur?s 90mm cannon. While under all this indirect fire the MG teams racked up kill after kill and kept a huge volume of fire going constantly. These infantry units were the most difficult to eliminate. The racket the mg42 makes is enough to gain all your attention and want to kill it quickly.
The AI will choose its company very poorly. In some cases they would go into battle with up to eight mortar teams. As the AI never takes many tanks into battle, I think by the end of the battle groups life span it will start filling all the slots with vehicles.
The AI will continue to offer a truce even when all VLs are lost. Accepting the truce does nothing, the game carries on. The AI made no noticeable effort to regain VLs. If I did own most VLs and some remained contested along with the Germans not owning any, they would still offer a truce. The computer would take the truce, which disbanded the German unit, probably not its intention!
Mortars, they have tons of ammo. The effect of mortars is quite similar to GJS and TRSM. Many mortar teams have two mortars as well. Remember your minimum ranges. Allied 81mm mortar teams have a 200m minimum range. They will not drop mortars on a fire command on anything less than 200m. You have to think about what objectives the enemy may go for and set your mortars up at least 200m from them. Mortar teams move extremely slow, and have long setups times. You cannot afford the time moving around your mortars, choose wisely.
Tanks are very vulnerable to becoming immobilized from infantry attack. You can almost guarantee as infantry assault will at least leave a couple crew dead and the tank stuck. The German Marder has a wide angle to shoot from. It is wide enough that it may make you think the tank is lagged somehow on your screen. There is no way in Close Combat to simulate a turret less gun traversing in any direction. Just be wary of this one.
The morning turn of June 9th sees all major and minor depots contested, which means no other German units will regain supply until those maps are won by the AI. Troop casualties are about 2-1 in my favour. My plan for the June 10th to the end will be to trap the AI battle groups on the maps they are on. I will not disband these units by taking their last VL. They will remain engaged until they can no longer field troops. I will take away their exit VLs and only leave them a small circle of territory on the map. The supply depot maps will always have full supply no matter what VLs I take. So from June 10th to the end of the campaign I will systematically destroy each German battle group. In Part 2 of this review we?ll go over new lessons learned and my slow destruction of the Germans.
You can download and view the installation instructions for Battle for Caen at http://www.closecombatseries.net/CCS/modules.php?name=Downloads&op=getit&lid=4206.