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#4490340 - 09/23/19 06:24 PM Combat Mission Campaign Reviews  
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A thread to share my view on various campaigns and operations in Combat Mission. As I play each one I'll add it, while skipping around between the various titles. I do not at present own all Combat Mission titles, so gaps will exist. I intend to provide basic details along with my opinion of the various elements of the campaign. It will naturally be biased, filtered through my own vision of what makes a campaign good or bad. For example I'm not a big fan of very large forces, night battles, exit missions or urban fighting. Others will find these things appealing. I try to be objective, but personal preference will surely color my views. Additionally, engine changes fundamentally alter the way a given scenario plays out, and individual experiences may be different as a result. So take it as one man's view. You may have a very different take on each campaign.

The following posts are nothing but spoilers, so proceed as if you're about to read things that you rather would not have known if you prefer to play a campaign without already knowing details about it in advance biggrin


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#4490342 - 09/23/19 07:11 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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OK first up, the tutorial campaign for Combat Mission Battle for Normandy, called Task Force Raff

Name: Task Force Raff
For: CMBN
Size: Three battles, Fixed, Company+
Player Forces: US Army, Airborne
Enemy Forces: German
Where to Find: Included with base game
Difficulty: Easy

Intended to be a tutorial campaign with accompanying written tutorial. I did not read the tutorial, but it is likely useful for players new to Combat Mission or to the Battle for Normandy.

The player is in control of two separate forces. One is an ad-hoc battlegroup consisting of Sherman tanks and glider infantry. The other is a force of American paratroopers.The campaign is three battles. In the first, which is also the demo mission, the player must take the ad-hoc group and advance to a crossroads ostensibly in an effort to link up with the paratroopers. The enemy is a mixed force of Ost troops of low quality, and German HQs. The map is excellent, but tricky. Plan your route well. The player has plenty of firepower, but you must take care of it for the remainder of the campaign. Time allotment is generous, with no need to rush.

In the second battle the player commands the paratoopers in Sainte-Mére-Èglise not far from where the ad-hoc group is attempting to push through and link up. This battle is a defend mission, with the troopers tasked with sending a patrol out to investigate suspicious sounds, and also holding the town against an attack by German infantry. Troop placement is at a premium, as you don't have sufficient forces to defend everywhere. Pick your spots carefully, and mutually supporting.

The final battle is fought on the same map as battle #2, and the ad-hoc armored group arrives to link up with the paras. The player commands both forces in this battle, which is an attack against a larger, partially dug-in German force. Very generous time allotment. Player receives ample reinforcement, strong armored forces and 75mm off-board pack artillery along with a F/O. Great battle, and a good introduction to combined arms warfare.

I really enjoy this campaign, and have played through several times now. As far as Combat Mission campaigns go it's relatively easy, given the lavish tank strength ultimately on hand. In each battle, reinforcements arrive, and if you do a good job of preserving your force you'll be mostly unstoppable for the final battle. Because each attack mission has a generous time allotment, you're never rushed, and can play properly, with time to recon and maneuver, luxuries not all CM campaigns afford.

It's an ideal primer for CMBN, as the player commands a combined arms force, attacks and defends, has access to off-board arty and there is also some bocage. It's not so restricted as other bocage campaign maps, but it presents the player with some of the unique challenges of fighting in bocage country. The force strength advantage allows for mistakes without losing momentum so it's relatively forgiving making it a perfect choice for a first go at a campaign, but it's still fun for veterans too.

This shot shows the opening map, which is also the demo. This battle was my first taste of CMx2, and I took significant casualties, with an ill-timed assault on St. Martin Farm and lost a Sherman and a Greyhound along the road. When I played it again last week the AI surrendered with zero American losses. While I'd like to credit my tactical expertise, I instead put it down to the fact that once you've played a battle, you know what's what and where, and it loses the ability to surprise you. AI plans only go so far. And Osttruppen, shall we say, lack enduring motivation and determination? Still, it's a really nice battle and a great one to start with.

[Linked Image]


Attached Files raff.jpg

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#4490345 - 09/23/19 07:35 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Dergatschi Roadblock
For: CMBB (Barbarossa to Berlin)
Size: Three battles, Fixed, Static Operation, Company+
Player Forces: German*
Enemy Forces: Russian*
Where to Find: Included with base game
Difficulty: Moderate

This is an operation, which is a type of campaign only found in CMx1-engined games. This one consists of three battles. After each, the setup zones are redrawn based on the player's successes or failures. The mission is for the player to cross about a kilometer of mostly open ground, entering Kharkov and capturing the bridge at the other end of the town. The player has an infantry company and a company of Mark IV tanks. It's winter, snow on the ground. The exposed approach is challenging, but once the town is gained your forces have some cover. It emphasizes combined arms, as you need your armor to protect your infantry, and your infantry to protect your armor, especially once you're in the town.

I rated it moderate difficulty, as the enemy is fairly strong, and bridge is well defended. As with most campaigns, force preservation is paramount. Keeping your forces alive early means they are available later, which can make all the difference. It's fairly straightforward tactically, with little option for maneuver. as the map is relatively narrow. It's more a test of your ability to bring all of your assets to bear on each tactical problem encountered, and a test of the player's ability to fight in a more restricted urban setting. I managed to lose a couple tanks early, and a couple more late, but had just enough strength at the end to see it over the line.

* Unlike CMx2 campaigns, CMx1 operations allow the player to play either side. I'll list the 'intended' side as player, but you always have the option of playing as the opponent.


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#4490348 - 09/23/19 08:00 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Devil's Descent
For: CMBN
Size: Six Battles, Branching, Company
Player Forces: US Paratroopers
Enemy Forces: German
Where to Find: Scenario Depot
Difficulty: Moderate

Perhaps my favorite campaign, this one places the player in command of a 82nd Airborne paratrooper company (C Company, 1st Battalion, 508th PIR) near Sainte-Mére-Èglise on June 6th. For me, company sized forces are the sweet spot for Combat Mission. Not so large as to be cumbersome, but big enough to allow some maneuver and tactical leeway. And paras are just hard as nails, so lots of fun to fight with. Hard to suppress, hard to kill, and stone cold killas. The opening mission is wonderful, reflecting the scattered nature of the drops. Your mission is to capture a farm at night with about a platoon of troopers as they trickle in over the course of the battle. As the campaign continues, your force grows to company strength as the misdrops march to the sound of the fighting and link up with the company. Several missions have decisions to make, for example after one battle you are asked if you want to leave a platoon behind in town, or to take the whole company with you. There are four mission branches that will result in different battles depending on your choices.

As always, force preservation is paramount (though interestingly, casualties do not factor in the scoring), as well as ammunition conservation, especially mortar rounds and demo charges. Use them sparingly! Everything about this campaign is great. The briefings, the battles, the maps. It's one of those campaigns where I know each squad leader's name. I've played it probably four times now, and will again soon. For me, this is Combat Mission at it's finest.

It's night so hopefully this shot shows up well. Captain Evans gathers some troopers and approaches a farm. As they do they encounter a sentry, who runs to the spot shown on the map in red text. One of the troopers takes a shot at the fleeing German, alerting troops stationed at the farm. The campaign starts here.

[Linked Image]


Attached Files Devils.jpg

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#4490368 - 09/23/19 11:42 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Kampfgruppe Engel
For: CMBN
Size: Eight Battles, Branching, Understrength Battalion
Player Forces: German Mixed Kampfgruppe
Enemy Forces: Allied armies
Where to Find: Included in game or requires Market Garden I believe
Difficulty: Hard

Over the years I've played many Combat Mission campaigns, but none have been more innovative or memorable than Kampfgruppe Engel. I rate it as hard, and it is. The player is given command of a mixed armor kampfgruppe in summer of 1944 in the Falaise Pocket. Of course we all know what happened here, so you have to reckon that playing a German campaign set then and there would be difficult right? Your task is to act as the German's fire brigade, trying to keep the pocket open so your kamaraden can escape.The missions are diverse and interesting, though one or two I didn't care for. My favorite sort of campaign is one with persistent core forces. Some campaigns, like Road to Montebourg, feature various battles involving separate but related forces. In this one, you get a core force, that grows a bit over time. It's another one where you'll know the names of your tank commanders and squad leaders. But it's vital to keep casualties and losses to a minimum, as the intensity doesn't let up and you need every boot and barrel in the line. At times the player faces huge odds, 20-30+ enemy tanks on the map at once. Careful positioning and terrain analysis are also vital.

To counter the overwhelming odds the player is given some of the most fearsome armor in the German inventory. The key is to keep it alive. It's also notable that the campaign features persistent damage and sometimes ammo state. By the time I reached the final battle my armor was alive for the most part, but in tatters. Shot out optics, radios and barrels. Damaged tracks that left one Panther little more than a barely mobile armored pillbox. But at least they made it. Until the final mission where I had my ass handed to me. The campaign opens with a German attack against recon troops screening a town. Excellent map with that mix of open ground and broken sightlines that makes it such an interesting tactical puzzle. Following this battle you move on to attack the town beyond. Another great map, and you get some nebelwerfers which are glorious in a barrage.

Other great missions include one called Tiger Poaching where you must acquire an abandoned King Tiger behind the lines, and then deal with a hornet's nest of Allied armor while attempting to exit your forces off the map. A mission called Hunters in the Mist where you attack northward to capture a couple of small hamlets while an enemy force meets you head on. All the while, a second huge Canadian armored force crosses the map west to east heading to another battlefield. You must defeat the first force, capture the hamlets and deny the Canadians' exit. As the title suggests visibility is limited, largely negating the range and optical advantages of your armor. I lost my crack PaK 40 with twenty rings on the barrel in this one. And you know how hard it is to keep an AT gun alive long enough to get twenty kills. This is what persistent core forces does, it makes me attached to my pixeltruppen, and painfully removes them from my toolbox. And the next mission is a crossing over the river Dives, and with ammo and repair states carried over from the Hunters mission. Very challenging. Not only is your armor battered and low or out of ammo, there's but a single heavily defended bridge to get across the river.

As said, a couple of missions I didn't particularly care for, including Guardian Angels which is a fairly tedious battle/exit mission. It may be more due to Combat Mission's limitations than anything. If we could easily give formation orders it wouldn't be bad. Anyway, it's a campaign well worth your time if you like heavy German armor and challenging play and don't mind being outnumbered and don't mind perhaps a little too much use if the exit mechanic..

Here, KG Engel prepares to move out for the opening mission. Maps like this make for excellent Combat Mission battles. Lots of open ground, broken up by hedgerows, tree lines and undulations, which are hard to see from this angle. I made my main push up the right flank, with a recon element sent to investigate OPs 2 and 3 and another element sent to fix troops at the roadblock to be outflanked.. This battle set a fantastic tone for the rest of the campaign. I easily spent an hour setting up, inspecting the troops and analyzing the terrain. You look at a map like this and there are just so many tactical possibilities. Every dip, every fold in the terrain is noted, routes are planned. Where might the enemy be? Where can I deploy my heavy weapons? Which spots offer covering fire for other elements? Spend a lot of time on zoom level one checking lines of sight. Of course no plan survives contact with the enemy, but planning it all out is so much fun.


[Linked Image]

Attached Files KGEngel.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 09/26/19 02:21 PM.

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#4490522 - 09/25/19 01:27 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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Name: The Outlaws
For: CMBN
Size: Eight Battles, Branching, Platoon through Battalion
Player Forces: US Airborne, US Army
Enemy Forces: German
Where to Find: Scenario Depot
Difficulty: Moderate

Another para campaign for CMBN, the Outlaws is similar to Devil's Descent as it starts small, reflecting the scattered nature of the drops, and the player commands an increasingly larger force through the course of the campaign. The majority of the campaign is played leading a platoon sized element of Company B, 1st Battalion, 506th PIR, with the final missions much larger as the paratroopers link up with forces coming off the beach. Missions are diverse, maps are very good. The briefings are of a different sort. Essentially, the briefings feature excerpts from an interview of the company commander as he recounts his experiences on D-Day. The briefings contain no tactical information, no intel, aside from what was recalled in the interview. It makes for a nice narrative, as you're given a framework and then fill in the blanks in the battle. But useful info for the battle ahead is minimal.

I enjoyed the missions aside from one where the player needs to leave a town they recently captured, at night, cross a river once to bypass and evade the Germans astride the forests and bridges nearby, travel along the river, and then recross it again to get to the exit point. I wonder if engine changes have altered how easy this is? I struggled to avoid detection in this one, finally ceasefired halfway through and still got a tactical victory despite not exiting and killing no enemy troops. I am on engine V4 and don't recall struggling with this mission the last time I played the campaign. I tend to find exit missions tedious as well.

I listed this one as eight battles, and that's about right, but I failed to actually count them, so consider it an estimate. For the opening 3/4 of the campaign you'll command a platoon sized force comprised mostly of small, crack teams. But the last couple of missions are ramped up in a big way as you join up with elements of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, and will command a battalion sized force in a battle with an hour and forty minutes on the clock.

So the campaign is quite diverse, in battles and forces to command. Briefings are interesting if unhelpful. But to the point, the troops on the ground that night and next day had little or no intel, particularly as they weren't where they were supposed to be, and this improvisational facet is conveyed through the briefing style. And besides, it's always fun leading paratroopers, and the modest scale for most of the campaign makes the battles easy to manage.


Here's the map for the battle linking up with the 4th Division straightlegs. They enter the map in the foreground, with the B Company paras at the top. The bucolic countryside belies the intensity of the combat soon after.

Sergeant Alvarez would survive this battle smile


[Linked Image]

Attached Files Alvarez.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 09/26/19 03:31 AM.

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#4490528 - 09/25/19 02:26 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Road to Montebourg
For: CMBN
Size:Sixteen Battles, Branching, Platoon/Company/Battalion
Player Forces: US Airborne, US Army
Enemy Forces: German
Where to Find: Included with base game
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

One of the most ambitious Combat Mission campaigns, Road to Montebourg places the player in command of various American units during the fighting on D-Day and beyond. At sixteen missions long, RtM is a beast. Missions are highly varied, and some are on the difficult side. Created by Paper Tiger, this campaign utilizes some interesting mechanics. He makes extensive use of AI plans, with I think four for each mission. While Combat Mission is far from dynamic, including a number of AI plans promises some replayability as a subsequent run could see some alteration for enemy unit placement and movement. Of course you could get the same one again too. This campaign also features what might be called branching difficulty. As I understand it, the player's performance affects how hard or easy later missions are. Do well, and it gets harder. Do poorly and you're cut some breaks. In theory this sounds OK. I suppose it allows players of all skill levels to get through it, while maintaining the challenge for the best players. But I think I'd prefer the opposite. If I do well, I'd like to gain some edge. If I do poorly, find myself at a disadvantage.

The campaign opens with an infantry attack over a huge expanse of open ground. At the far side of the map a small German force with pillboxes awaits, hemmed in by mines and supported by artillery. When I first saw the map I thought 'no way'. No way I'm getting across this ground without massive casualties. But this mission is a showcase for suppression in Combat Mission. Combined with tactical use of smoke, machine gun and mortar fire I was able to do it with surprisingly light losses. Find, fix, destroy.

I think it's the second mission that puts the player in command of a combined arms force for an attack on a town called Ecoqueneuville deep in bocage country. When I played it I used a beautiful three-pronged attack, sending engineers the long way 'round the left flank, blowing gaps in hedgerow after hedgerow to hit the final objective from the flank while my main body converged through town. It all went splendidly until the final hurdle. At the last objective, the German company commander went nuts with his MP 40, defiantly mowing down my troops despite the deluge of fire directed his way. Quite disheartening to have such a well-executed plan devolve in to chaos with the finish line in sight, especially when a single maniac wielding a machine pistol holds off a company of well-equipped troops.. But it also makes it memorable. I wish I remembered his name. Respect Herr Hauptmann, respect. smile

Another memorable mission is called Turnbull's Stand. It pits the player's paratrooper platoon against nearly a battalion of German troops supported by armor. You make your stand in Neuville au Plain, barring the way to St Mere Eglise along the N13. At times it felt all would be lost, but my plucky paras won the day, and the Germans eventually turned tail. I could imagine my troopers rising from their holes, smoking Garands held high, whooping it up as the enemy fled. An amazing victory and one of the shining moments of my CM career. Paper Tiger mentioned in a post that the player is not meant to stop the Germans, just cause as many casualties as possible and get your men off the map. But I managed to send the enemy running. Great stuff and highly satisfying.

At sixteen missions long there is a lot of variety, and the player gets some cool toys like Priest SPGs, air support and all sorts of off-board artillery. A must-play campaign.

Most entries so far in this thread are for CMBN. Partly this is due to me having it, and partly due to CMBN having a decent number of campaigns available. I will get to other titles eventually.


The opening mission from Road to Montebourg. My first look at this and I was like yeah right. How the hell will I get across this with nothing but infantry and a bad attitude? But suppression in Combat Mission is a thing. Make 'em keep their noggins down and maybe the troops can advance, close and kill the enemy. I like smoke too. Aside from Neuville au Plain, this is the last you'll see of open ground for a while.

[Linked Image]







Attached Files beaugillot.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 09/26/19 02:50 AM.

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#4490700 - 09/27/19 01:02 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Compendium [Re: DBond]  
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For my next campaign I have chosen Blunting the Spear for Red Thunder. It's a very large campaign, I'd rate it as Battalion+, whatever my designation system means. But you can infer it's a big one.

The player takes command of a kampfgruppe near Warsaw in 1944 (of course everything in Red Thunder is 1944). The opening map is huge, I'd reckon about 2500m x 2500m or bigger? The kampfgruppe has been divided in to a left flank force, and a right flank force. The campaign alternates battles between the two, with the final battle featuring all forces rejoining. In the first mission, the player must force a river crossing while attempting to destroy enemy armor and capturing a town on the other side of the river. With a battalion of infantry, and another of Mk IV tanks, there is plenty to do. This scenario is quite a bit larger than what I usually play, but I am enjoying it very much. I played it a few years ago, but although I recall the maps and bits of the rest, it's mostly slipped my mind, which is good. Forgetfulness is the key to being surprised when playing a campaign a second time smile

I'm still early in the first mission. It took three hours for set up, terrain analysis and the first 13 turns. I've been too cautious in the early going I think. Better that than the opposite, as preserving my force is key to getting through to the end of the campaign. This one will take a while to finish, and I might begin another campaign or two in the interim. My usual MO is to have a number of campaigns going simultaneously, as it allows me to mix it up a bit. If I get a little weary of a large German armored kampfgruppe, I can switch to small para campaign for a few turns or whatever else I am in to at the mo. But I'll get the review up sooner or later.

This is the opening map for Blunting the Spear. It's actually a small part of a much larger master map, and through the campaign you play on different parts of the master. This shot shows how large, and open, the map is. If you like long range tank duels -- and who doesn't -- this is a good one. During the battle my first kill came at 1833 meters, and the AI T-34/85s opened up at a longer range but I escaped being hit then. The mission is to force the river, and capture the town of Stary Dybow shown beyond. I was careful to clear my flanks on the march to the river, and maybe a little cautious as it turned out, But you can't know where the enemy is until you've played it, and I have to approach things as if the enemy is everywhere. I learned long ago that a good commander makes his plans by considering the enemy's capabilities, not his intentions. And since the enemy can be anywhere it's best to carry out your operation as if he is. Sure beats getting hit from the flank or rear because you didn't take the time to check there.

Finding a position unoccupied even though you approached it like an all-out attack, is better in the main, and will help ensure survivability, even if it takes considerably longer.

[Linked Image]


Update: Nearly a week later and I'm just about to finish the second battle. I can't say enough good things about this campaign. The maps are highly tactical, the armor clashes are fantastic, and the defenses are devious. I scored a draw in the first mission, and was happy enough with that. One of the objectives is to prevent Red armor from exiting the map, and I reckon my cautious approach cost me a lot of points. Still, I did a really good job of preserving my forces for later, losing just a single tank in the first one.

The second battle is on an even larger map, with more built-up areas and more Red troops and armor. But the German has his own fearsome tank strength and is backed by some serious artillery. I'm nearing the end of battle two and I'm thinking another draw or maybe a tactical victory, we will see. Lost two more Mark IVs, but it would be hard not to! Sturmoviki!

This campaign is moderating my views on big ones.






Attached Files spear1.jpg

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#4491250 - 10/03/19 11:41 AM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Still playing Blunting the Spear. During the second mission this tank made the mistake of opening fire against my massed Mark IVs. There are two more penetrations on the left side of the turret as a flank attack also got a spot on this T-34/85. All hits came during the same WEGO segment. Range was around 650m.


[Linked Image]


And I would caption this shot with "You ain't kidding"

[Linked Image]

Second mission now in the books. Managed a minor victory and kept losses low, so I am happy with that. So far it's been two fantastic maps. They serve up a delicious brand of combat, a blend of long-range gunnery duels and close-in urban combat. A perfect mix for me. So now on to mission 3. Had a look at the map. Conducted my terrain analysis and set my TRPs but yet to setup and start the battle. With this battle, the narrative switches over to the 'right flank force', equipped with Panthers instead of the Mark IVs in the left flank force. The third battle map is another big one (2500x2500m) and wide open. I hope my Panther gunners are on their game, as I expect some heavy tank battles at range.

Third mission in the books. With a strong force of Panthers I felt I could do well if the gunners were on their game. With the Germans attacking, the Russian AI would have some spotting advantages, especially since so many of the T-34/85s are diabolically tucked in to the various copses and tree lines about the map. The battle starts with just the leading elements of the kampfgruppe, a platoon of Panthers, a platoon of infantry and a number of headquarters units. With a huge open map and a small force I decided to just get eyes on the right flank and push my meager force up the left toward two farm objectives, which would work us on to the left flank toward the town that was the main target of the operation. This movement, if successful, would place me in a good position to support the attack on the town, as well as clear these positions of potential tank or AT assets which could get flanking shots in on the main body.

I ordered my infantry forward to get eyes out while leaving my Panthers hidden until I could get some spots, which the infantry got on a number of T-34s. I ordered the Panthers forward to the edge of the trees, hoping they could get first shots off. They did, but then conspired to miss their first eight shots. At the end of the WEGO segment two were knocked out and two reversing, with casualties and essentially out of the fight. Well, that didn't go so well. I just chose to give it another try, leaving the armor keyholed until more of the kampfgruppe arrived. From this point forward the battle went as well as I could have hoped. I did lose a Panther to a flanking shot from a well-positioned T-34, but that was all.

The scale of these battles is interesting. On many CM battles once you get the infantry in the fight, they remain on their feet the rest of the battle. Moving forward, but on foot. In this campaign, having a battalion on such big and open maps means you need to move your infantry companies with transport or they'll take forever to get where you need them and be exhausted and late when they arrive. I've enjoyed the whole operational feel to it, coordinating this transport, clearing it's way and providing overwatch. The left flank force has a lot of halftracks, but the right flank force have trucks, which are highly vulnerable of course, and it takes a good plan and planning to get these troops to the positions you want them and in a timely manner. I usually avoid big battles for this sort of reason, this sort of micro, but for whatever reason I am really digging it in Blunting the Spear. Oftentimes you bring a platoon forward to unload, assault an objective, clear it, then remount in a different location to set off to the next one.

After restarting the battle to erase my nightmare second turn, I ended up scoring a total victory, with the AI surrendering with 34 minutes on the clock. My artillery was highly effective in this one. The TRPs were well placed and I was able to keep pounding the enemy's strongpoints through the battle. Tank losses were 26 to 1. I had 20 casualties, and some of those were caused by aircraft, which it should be noted, are quite a threat in this campaign. I was surprised when the battle ended, but after seeing the map review and how effective the artillery had been, I would have thrown in the towel too if I were the Russian.

Fourth mission is another German attack, and again with the Mark IVs and panzergrenadiers. A challenging map, and a restricted setup zone. It's one of those 'just arrived by the road' types where everything must be moved in to position after the start instead of placed there during setup. The German end of the map is well covered by trees and a town, but about a third of the way up the map it opens out, with the objective town of Cimene at the far edge, 3000m away. There are fifteen terrain objectives, all occupy, so it requires a fairly complex plan.

As with most battles I am conducting a two-pronged movement. Panzergrenadier Company 2 are on the right, with one platoon from 1 Company attached to add weight.. They are supported by a single Mark IV platoon, but the bulk of my support/Stummel halftracks are also attached. Their primary objective is the Brickworks halfway up the right side of the map. The rest of my armor is massed on the left to take advantage of the open ground and clear fields of fire, supported by the other two infantry platoons of 1 Company.

I dislike when scenario designers hit the setup zones with a first-turn artillery barrage. Seems sorta cheap. But in this one, these first-turn fires are instead directed along obvious approach routes and intersections, disrupting my timetables, and forcing me to re-route to go around the artillery. Nicely done, and a great way to use opening artillery without sticking it to the player.

About 20 minutes in to the mission, my massed armor on the left got in to a long-range gunnery duel with Soviet armor. A platoon of SU-85 assault guns opened fire from the town at the far edge, at a range of around 2000 meters. The assault guns were tucked in behind hedges, making them very difficult to spot, and handing first-shot advantages (and second and third sometimes). I lost one Mark IV destroyed straight away, another hit with spalling, and a third penetration that killed a tank commander. But I had massed my tanks, and as I brought the bulk forward we began to make our numbers felt and knocked out a number of Su-85s, all that could be spotted anyway.

Here's the result of one of these duels. You can see by the path of the penetration it was a matter perhaps of being just a little bit faster. This shot evokes those sniper duel scenes in Saving Private Ryan or Enemy at the Gates. The poor gunner.

[Linked Image]


Attached Files holytank.jpgyouaintkidding.jpgsweetrevenge.jpgsniped.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 10/12/19 12:33 AM.

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#4491973 - 10/08/19 01:31 AM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Punitive Expedition 101
For: CMBB
Size: Five Battles, Advance Operation, Company
Player Forces: German Security
Enemy Forces: Partisans
Where to Find: Included with base game
Difficulty: Moderate

For the few players still getting their tactical groove on CMx1, here's another operation I recently replayed after about 15 years and so I can actually recall details about it This is an advance operation, so the goal is to get to the end of the four-kilometer long map before time runs out in battle five. As with all operations, the setup zones for the following battle reflect your gains or losses from the previous one. I like this concept as it allows the player to capture key terrain, from where your forces can deploy for the next battle. It's not so precise though, as the setup zones may not reflect that your advance scouts ended up in the little copse of wood a fair distance in front of the main body. The program seems to determine it based more on your side's mass, so doesn't necessarily reward small gambits to capture advanced positions. But in the main it works well enough, and identifying key terrain and taking it becomes an important part of these operations, more so because it will span more than one battle.

In this operation, a company sized element of the German 285th Security Division and 2nd SS Police Infantry Brigade is tasked with an anti-partisan operation near Leningrad in September of 1943. The cool thing about this one is that there are no tanks. This isn't the only Combat Mission campaign without tanks, but they are rare. Instead the Germans have armored cars and halftracks and must root the partisans out and push them back. This scale or level of combat is always interesting, as neither side has a dominant weapon, and each side can do serious damage to the other, any small caliber anti-tank gun, infantry gun, hand grenade or anti-tank rifle can knock out light vehicles like these. It forces the German player to succeed through tactics instead of firepower and that's always a fun challenge. It can be played from either side, but the Germans will have the more interesting go of it.

Here's the map at the start of battle 3 in my run. Yeah, it's un-modded, and shows it age, or maybe even before that smile

But any long-time player of the series will fondly recall these days.

[Linked Image]




Attached Files partisans.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 10/08/19 01:46 AM.

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#4492539 - 10/11/19 11:21 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Moving back to my current campaign, Blunting the Spear in CMRT. I would keep this update with the previous post but after a post reaches a certain size, with images attached, it starts to slow down when trying to edit.

I finished the fourth mission, the attack on Cimene. After the duel with the assault guns, losing a couple of Mark IVs, we attacked our main right-side objective, the Brickworks, with four infantry platoons, a platoon of Mark IVs and a host of halftracks supported by artillery. With plenty of time on the clock, I was in no hurry, and using all of my assets, including smoke and recon-by-fire, we took the complex with no losses. It had been held by a single sapper platoon, who are dangerous at close range with a number of SMGs and satchels. In and among the buildings at the site they could have done some damage. But the recon-by-fire made 'em mad enough to shoot back, and the battle dominoed from there. Before long they tried to pull back, but I had shifted my armor on to the flanks in anticipation of this and cut them down.

The armor in the open ground on the left side of the map made progress after the assault gun duel until they came up against well-concealed anti-tank guns. One Mark IV was hit, the commander incapacitated, and the crew abandoned the tank. I halted my armor, unwilling to send more in front of the gun. Instead, artillery, mortar, machine gun, howitzer and tank fire lashed through the copse of woods. After ten minutes of this I had remounted the tank and attempted to reverse it to safety and the AT gun came to life and knocked it out. Dammit. I kept up the deluge and pushed a tank platoon, minus their immobilized HQ up the left with a platoon of landsers mounted in tracks following in their wake.

There are fifteen terrain objectives on this map, with most being worth 10-25 points. But the town at the far end, Cimene, has four at 100 points each, plus a road objective at 125. I knew if I wanted better than a draw I would have to take some of these. So this force was sent on a dash up the left to enter the town from the south and work their way through, with the infantry clearing for the tanks, and the tanks bashing whatever they found.

As I moved on to the Cimene South objective it triggered a platoon of previously hidden T-34/85s positioned at the far end of town, Cimene North. These tanks immediately rolled out and barrelled down the road toward my dismounting infantry. Sensing disaster I threw some smoke and positioned a couple of tanks behind some trees at the near end of this road. If the T-34s rolled all the way to the end they would pop out on the end of my guns. First they had to pass my scrambling infantry, who threw a couple of grenades but had no panzerfaust.

The T-34s found themselves suddenly surrounded by my troops and pushed on through at high speed, causing a few casualties. As they reached the end of the road and emerged from the smoke my hidden Mark IVs opened fire from point-blank range of 80 meters and three of the four T-34s were knocked out, while my startled infantry cut down the baling crews from very close range.. The fourth veered off the road in to a field I had no LOS on. That broke the Russian and he surrendered at the end of the turn. With additional time allotted in this one I expected it to be a harder nut to crack, but it proved the easiest so far, but of course in a game like this anything can happen and disaster and victory are often separated by fine margins. Maybe your APBC shot penetrates a turret, or maybe it fails and that tank goes on to gun down your whole platoon.

Here's a good shot of the leading elements on the left side of the map during the battle. This shot is fourteen minutes before the surrender.

[Linked Image]


In this shot you can see the three Mark IVs sent to Cimene in the upper left. Just out of frame are the halftracks carrying the infantry. I wanted to send the tanks ahead to be sure the tracks weren't ambushed. You can see my tank strength, along with the faded icon of the sneaky bastage AT gun center-right. A mortar spotting round has just hit to the left. On the left side you can see the Mark IV hit by the the AT gun. The icon appears as normal (because it's abandoned at this point, not destroyed), but has the crew icon right next to it. The halted armor is just a bit further left. At the bottom of the shot is the Rzyska Folwark objective and an infantry platoon can be seen moving on to it emerging from the smokescreen. They would eject a HQ unit, a Maxim, and a F/O team, all of whom had nowhere to run. It doesn't hurt to be supported by nine Mark IV tanks either.

At the top of the map is Cimene, and the tanks that counterattacked at the end came from Cimene N (the sound contact is visible). The smoke in Cimene shows some of the positions of the assault guns encountered earlier in the battle. The frantic action at the end occurred on the Cimene S objective. This shot shows only a portion of the huge map, but this is where the battle was decided. I said this thread was full of spoilers, and this goes beyond my normal level of spoilerification. But a picture's worth a thousand words. I usually only include map shots of the setup phase to prevent revealing too much, but I thought this might be interesting. If you play this campaign try to forget what you saw here.


Attached Files cimneattack.jpg

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#4492683 - 10/12/19 10:56 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Nice little Battle.

#4492844 - 10/14/19 01:51 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Indeed it was carrick.

I finished the fifth mission, scoring a minor victory. I'd rate this one as the most difficult so far. The designers made excellent use of the terrain when placing the units. It's low light (evening), and the map is sort of crowned, making finding spots with good LOS to take advantage of our range and optical superiority difficult. I ignored most of the terrain objectives in order to maintain my integrity and keep losses low. That was successful, and we head in to the final battle in very good shape.

Had a look at the final mission and it's a big one. Until now the kampfgruppe was split in to two 'flank forces', with a battalion sized battlegroup with Mark IVs, and another with Panthers. Three battles were fought with the Mark IVs and two with the Panthers. For the final battle, these are combined, resulting in a very large battle with nearly a regiment's worth of units. Two hours are on the clock.

We received a desperately-needed ammunition re-supply. Because it's the final battle I don't feel so compelled to play cautiously, and can be aggressive when the situation calls for it. It promises to be an epic struggle, as my forces attempt to finally destroy 3rd Tank Corps.

I've been playing Blunting the Spear for nearly three weeks now. It's a big campaign, but I've really enjoyed it. These reports have served to fill that gap, as otherwise the thread would have gone silent until I can get a review up. Not sure the 'review' is even really needed now, but I will dutifully put it up when the final round is fired in battle six.


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#4493787 - 10/20/19 04:08 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Name: Blunting the Spear
For: CMRT
Size: Six Battles, Fixed, Battalion+
Player Forces: German
Enemy Forces: Russian
Where to Find: Included with base game
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

It took three weeks, but I have finally finished this campaign. Needless to say it's a big one, I rated it on my vague scale as Battalion +, so if you play it be prepared for a lot of attention to detail. You should, as it's one of the best campaigns I have played in Combat Mission. And I say this as someone who tends to shy away from large scenarios. Whether it's down to my mindset, or something inherent in the campaign design I don't know. But I very much enjoyed the minute attention to detail the campaign requires. The scale of co-ordination necessary is beyond most campaigns I've played. Your forces are comprised of several infantry companies, all with transport and a full company of tanks, plus a number of support halftracks, artillery and crew-served weapons. Conducting attacks with proper timing among all of your elements is crucial, and imparts a distinctly operational feel to the campaign.

Historically, the action this campaign portrays is not well-known, but this was the largest armor clash that occurred in Poland. In July of '44 the Russians were closing the Vistula and the eastern approaches to Warsaw. Operationally, it was XXXIX Panzer Corps defending against Rokossovsky's 1st Belorussian Front, and in this region 2nd Tank Army, of which the campaign's enemy, the 3rd Tank Corps, was part. Model ordered a counterattack with four Panzer Divisions. The Hermann Goring and 19th Panzer Divisions attacked first and managed to cut off 3rd Tank Corps from 2nd Tank Army. 5th SS and 4th Panzer then arrived and the pocketed 3rd Tank Corps was destroyed. In the campaign we command elements of 4th Panzer, and the player is attacking/pursuing 3rd Tank Corps as they fall back in to the pocket to ultimately deliver the crushing blow.

Historically, this action was a sharp success for the German. For the moment anyway, the Vistula crossings were safe, and the direct threat to Warsaw removed. It was a good example of how vulnerable armored spearheads can become after a long advance, and here, at the end of Bagration, 2nd Tank army was exploitable, Model recognized this and struck when the time was right. This action is also interesting for the role it played in the Warsaw Uprising which sparked as these forces approached the river. The Soviet defeat left Warsaw on it's own as they needed to cross the river elsewhere. Of course it's questionable whether Stalin wanted to enter Warsaw in the first place, as one might reason capturing Warsaw with no home army intact was preferable from a political point of view.

The maps for this campaign are fantastic. For me, long-range armor duels are one of the best parts of Combat Mission, and each and every battle serves them up in spades. The enemy has formidable tank strength. It's '44 so virtually every gun you come up against is 85mm and capable of knocking out your tank in a single round. The player is given 56 tanks, split between one group of Mark IVs and one of Panthers. Three battles are played with the Mark IVs and two with the Panthers, before all are combined for the sixth and final battle. I sought to exploit the optical advantage of my armor at every opportunity, trying to use keyholes, concentration and range on my side. I felt I did I good job here, losing fourteen tanks for the campaign (five Panthers, nine Mark IV), but that's still a quarter of my starting strength. Force preservation and ammunition conservation are important as it's a core force, as is knocking out as much enemy armor as possible to keep the end of the campaign manageable.

Aside from the tasty long-range duels, the campaign shines as a combined-arms problem. Co-ordinating your artillery, armor, and infantry is a big challenge. The maps are so big and open (roughly 3km x 3km) that movement is crucial. Getting your infantry where you need them, safely and in a timely manner is key. The Mark IV force has halftracks which help, while the Panther force has trucks for the infantry, and these require a more delicate approach. It all adds up to a good challenge that will test your powers of command. Honestly I wish I could forget it already and have another go.

This wide shot shows the scale of the final battle at the half-way point. Battalion commanders surely drank a lot of coffee.


[Linked Image]

This shot shows what played out like a white-flag ruse. Trees are turned off. The two soldiers who surrendered were visible to me, but not the one laying down with the LMG. Thinking the position was secure I advanced to cross the open ground beyond (you can see the smoke deployed in anticipation), but as my troops neared the captured soldiers the hidden Ivan opened fire and you see the damage he's done. The bastage.

[Linked Image]





Attached Files widebattle.jpgwhiteflagruse.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 10/21/19 12:33 PM.

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#4494522 - 10/25/19 02:06 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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For my next campaign I am really switching things up. I bought Shock Force 2 big bundle, and have started the Task Force Thunder campaign. First mission went superbly, as the Americans have fearsome firepower and cool gadgets and tech. It's a long campaign, and we'll see if I finish it more quickly than the 25 days Blunting the Spear took me. It's a big shift from WW2 to modern day, but I think I am up to the challenge.


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#4494969 - 10/28/19 01:57 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Campaign update for my first Shock Force 2 venture, Task Force Thunder. I've completed five missions so far. I'm having fun with it, but honestly it's not very challenging. The maps are small, there's little tactical freedom, and each battle has been essentially a shooting gallery. I've taken nine casualties (3 KIA) and no vehicles lost while destroying a regiment's worth of the enemy and lots of tanks and vehicles.

On one hand it's sort of expected, after all I posses a strong force, with heavy firepower, air and artillery support, well-trained troops and high tech, while the enemy does not. On the other hand, it's not very compelling gameplay. The Syrian T-72 TURMS-T package is a very formidable opponent, but the rest is fodder. Most enemy tanks are in view for literally five seconds before a 120mm sabot round rips through the turret, detonating the ammunition. Enemy ATGMs help to even the odds a bit, but the operators lack motivation and are easily suppressed or routed. I did come up against Syrian Special Forces in the airfield battle, and those troops had moxie and were hard to dislodge, causing most of my casualties with missile/rocket fire against the buildings in which I had deployed my forward screen.

I'll keep at it, I want to see how the campaign plays out and see the kill totals at the end smile And maybe the campaign will open out, with bigger maps requiring more complex planning and maneuver.


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#4495081 - 10/29/19 03:19 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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I played a few more battles in Task Force Thunder, maybe seven are done and dusted now. I've really enjoyed the last two battles, even if they were over quickly. The first of these, Dar al Abid as Sul was an attack on a town, but with the civilian presence, collateral damage was restricted, and that's the first battle I've ever fought with that consideration, which is a cool change of pace. I had strong artillery support but chose not to call on it to avoid losing points by damaging civilian buildings. Small map, but I finally was able to maneuver with my infantry, and all enemy armor was dealt with by splitting off 2-man AT teams, giving them Javelins from the Strykers (acquire mechanic), and moving them in to position to strike the dug-in tanks. The Javelin is a cool weapon that gives infantry the ability to kill anything on the battlefield at extreme range. ATGMs in general are a a big part of SF2, and the Javelin is the king. Enemy surrendered after just 29 minutes, but it was a cool map, and a fun, quick tactical battle. I'm playing this campaign on Warrior for what it's worth.

The next battle is called The Screen. Your mission is to recon, identifying and destroying any forces you find, while ostensibly screening the flank for the main body as they move further along Route Lightning. The forces on hand are very light, a Stryker Scout Platoon, with three ATGM Strykers mounting TOW missiles. Some heavy enemy armor is encountered, strong enough to crush your recon element. But ATGMs are the equalizer. Once again, I had the infantry grab the Javs off the Strykers before dismounting and created a few kill zones, with the TOW Strykers keyholed to cover them. All armor was easily knocked out in the open terrain, while I remained nestled in a little village. A combination of TOW missiles, Javelins and Apaches caused an enemy surrender with 22 minutes left on the clock, with no casualties taken. The TOW missiles were especially deadly, with each hit not only destroying the vehicle, but all occupants as well. And several were BMPs with full squads inside. Interestingly, the debrief showed 34 enemy alive, but only five were on the map review. So 29 I assume were in another wave that never got the chance to join the battle.

This shot shows the battle from behind my positions, My scout squads on are the rooftops with Javelin, sniper team deployed forward, with the TOW Strykers backstopping around the scattered trees. The vehicles on the left are kicking up dust as they pull back (TacAI) with the final enemy T-62 spotted (visible on map). It was taken out just after by a missile. If this was a WW2 battle I'd be defeated I think. But the tech is a force multiplier isn't it? This light recon platoon easily handled four enemy armored platoons with infantry. Good stuff.

[Linked Image]

Attached Files ATGMAlley.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 10/29/19 04:03 PM.

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#4495837 - 11/03/19 01:44 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Task Force Thunder keeps rolling. The fifteenth mission for me is an exit mission (Into the Valley). Two platoons of M1A2 SEPs and a platoon of Bradleys with a grunt platoon mounted must cross a map and exit on the far side. As soon as I saw the map I reckoned it was an ATGM trap of the first order. The map rises steeply to the left with a few multi-story buildings and more at the peak in the far corner of the map and far above the valley, little cover anywhere and a few more multi-story buildings in the valley near the exit. You just know what's coming. Matter of fact I lost my first tank of the whole campaign already in this one. Not sure what got it, a rocket or a missile. Two casualties. and I managed to get the surviving crew mounted in the platoon commander's Bradley so they are not left behind when we exit. If, we exit.

Any Syrian that attacks is committing suicide with so much firepower arrayed on my side, and at the short range on the smallish map. But the first-shot advantage is theirs. Not sure what we are facing, a mix of RPGs and ATGMs like the AT-4 Spigot I would imagine. These won't kill an M1 from the front, but they can degrade and disable the sensor suite and external gear like the .50 cal or smoke dischargers. From the side, top or rear they can kill the M1. That's how I lost the first. The exit requirement means I have to cross the map and everywhere is a potential enemy position. That exposes flanks to unseen foes. Recon by fire is useful, but then there's a civilian presence and the Syrians will score points if I do too much damage. The Bradleys are vunlerable to these weapons from any angle.

The mission starts with your whole force in range (200m) and within LOS of the enemy, which isn't ideal, but I suppose that's how you create an ambush in Combat Mission. I thought we had neutralized this group at the start, and the Abrams was lost when I turned to proceed across the map. At least one Syrian with a rocket or missile had survived and popped up to kill the tank with a penetration on the right turret. Canny, crafty bastages, these Syrians. He was able to enjoy his success for about four seconds before the dead tank's wingman replied with a 120mm HEAT round. With the enemy position seemingly neutralized for real this time, I've pivoted the force to proceed across the map. A little further forward, and my armor in the valley will come in to LOS of the buildings on the hills to the left.

Here, the lead two Abrams probe cautiously forward, with a second Abrams platoon following behind on the road. This shot looks badass, that's some serious combat power.

[Linked Image]

And the same scene from a different angle, the two lead M1s ahead. The small town ahead can be seen with the exit objective at the far edge. The Bradley platoon has dismounted some troops to provide overwatch. Maybe they can get spots, or at least suppress or kill any enemy that manage to get some shots off. You can see one of the grunts has Javelin. I like to set up overwatch positions like this in case any enemy armor makes an appearance. The Javelin is highly effective against it. The rooftop positions are ideal, but vulnerable. Javelin can be fired indoors as it has soft-launch capability.

Post-script: The Syrian ATGMs proved to be AT-14 Kornet (Spriggan) which are another kettle of fish entirely compared to the AT-4. I lost two Abrams in this mission, plus a few infantry and crew casualties, scoring a tactical defeat even though 90% of the force successfully exited. This campaign has been a nice mix of mission types, but as it nears the end the battles seem more designed to stick it to you, starting in LOS and range of hidden enemy units who posses one-shot one-kill capability on your units.


[Linked Image]


I'm using no mods, and these aren't even the top graphics settings, as I like my gameplay butter-smooth even in the largest scenarios. Still, Shock Force 2 looks good.


Attached Files m1probe.jpgreversem1probe.jpg
Last edited by DBond; 11/04/19 02:09 PM.

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#4496293 - 11/07/19 04:36 AM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Looks really nice. Hows the re-play value ? and do U like the game so far ?

#4496335 - 11/07/19 01:50 PM Re: Combat Mission Campaign Reviews [Re: DBond]  
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Thanks carrick. The replay value is like any Combat Mission title as far as I am concerned. I call it limited. AI plans are more frequently used these days, and this campaign got them as part of the SF2 makeover. But while AI plans can add some variety to enemy placement and movement, they don't change what you're up against, nor the map. So the effect is limited. Better than nothing, but until or unless BFC develop a proper AI this will remain the case I'm afraid.

I really like SF2 yes. Part of it is due to the fact that it's new to me. New and interesting units and weapons, terrain and maps. It's difficult at this point for me to separate the novelty factor from my view of the game. I've played CM for nearly 20 years, so to have completely new and different units and weaponry is very cool and breathes fresh air in to it for me.

I might say that SF2's replay value comes from a good amount of user-generated content. Aside from CMBN I think SF2 has the most available and that helps to justify the cost. There is plenty to play, though it should be considered that much of what's out there has not been given the SF2 treatment. But SF1 scenarios and campaigns work fine in SF2. Campaigns are limited though, as always, and really that's all I want to play.


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