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Modern Campaigns - Tactics and Strategies!
02-21-2017, 01:17 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-06-2020, 10:04 PM by Kool Kat.)
zicon 3  Modern Campaigns - Tactics and Strategies!
Gents: Smoke7
It’s time for some Modern Campaigns tactics and strategies!
Here’s what I have learned since purchasing my first MC title – Fulda Gap ’85 back in Sep 2016.
These tactics and strategies are in no order. Feel free to comment and add your own to this thread!   Smile
(1.) Guard against vertical envelopment. Objectives behind the lines, critical terrain features (Road junctions, bridges), units in T-mode, and valuable support units (HQ, artillery) must be defended against enemy helo troop insertion. Position flak units on top or adjacent to these valuable targets. Defend these hexes with dug in troops (if available). Have your artillery dig in immediately on reaching support positions. Remember, artillery can dig in AND fire on same turn – provided you issue a dig in command BEFORE you initiate bombardment.
(2.) Move or die. The modern battlefield is lethal. If something can find you, it can generally kill you. Therefore, units need to stay mobile. Warsaw Pact armor companies and mechanized battalions need to use their speed and off road capability to quickly advance to contact and be ready to exploit any breakthroughs with rapid maneuver. The trick is to remain intact and combat effective moving into attack positions. Use covered terrain to your advantage and try to come out of T-mode before coming adjacent to enemy units to minimize losses. Use recon air assets and scout helos to range ahead of your columns, looking for enemy ambushes and defense positions. Be ready to attack revealed enemy units with artillery or airstrikes.
(3.) Air interdiction. It’s a fact of life on the modern battlefield. If you travel in T-mode, be prepared that a certain percentage of your units will suffer losses from AI-controlled air interdiction.  Usually the losses can be shrugged off, but every hit grinds down your units a little at a time.
(4.) Air power. Effective management of air assets can go a long way in maintaining momentum and keeping the enemy off balance. 1.) Recon. Use recon to scout ahead of important offensive thrusts and search out suspected enemy HQ and artillery positions. Most Warsaw Pact artillery has relatively short range (e.g. 7 - 9 hexes). Count back from where enemy bombardments fall and send a recon asset to a hex behind enemy lines that provides good visibility into covered terrain - especially town and forest roadways. Artillery likes to hide in these hexes.  Also, recon primary road networks for suspected enemy reinforcements traveling in T-mode to the front lines. Always fun to watch enemy armor and mech infantry units traveling in column formations get brewed up by a well-directed air strike. 2. Air strikes. As stated earlier, allow recon air assets to vector in the strike bombers to revealed  enemy HQ, artillery, and T-mode traveling units. Be prepared for 1 or more air strikes per turn to be driven off by Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) or enemy aircraft. Can be annoying, but a fact of life in modern air warfare. Always try to keep 1-2 air strikes on call while you execute the movement phase of your turn. You never know what your offensive movement may reveal. In a recent MC game, as my WP armor raced along a primary roadway, it bumped into a couple of NATO towed and SPA artillery units blocking the path. I did not have enough action points to either attack or assault the enemy stack and it was out of range of my artillery. Called in an air strike and watched 6 towed guns get destroyed.  It’s a target rich environment. 
(5.) Helicopters. Love them or hate them, helos are a fixture of the modern battlefield. It’s easy to see why there is a love / hate relationship with these rotor -wing aircraft. Of all the modern warfare units, helos are subject to the most bizarre and unrealistic tactics ever devised by the human mind. I’ve seen players fly attack helos deep into enemy-held territory where they use these flying gun platforms to range far and wide for the entire game, shooting up enemy ground units with a seemingly endless supply of missiles. Or using the attack helos to block enemy retreats like a combat unit blessed with extra long movement. Thankfully, the designers set  (starting with Danube Front ‘85) the Blocking Helicopter Elimination Optional Rule as a default one and introduced the Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FAARP) HQ with a short range to discourage these unrealistic practices. Players can still choose to employ their attack helos in an unrealistic manner, but they will be penalized in game for such practices. 1. Scout helos. Use them to range ahead of your columns, looking for enemy ambushes and defense positions. Be ready to attack revealed enemy units with artillery or airstrikes. Use them to have eyes on suspected enemy advance routes and as airborne warning for enemy units attempting to slip through your defense lines. Don’t allow them to be engaged by enemy air or ground units as these units are thin-skinned and can’t take a lot of punishment. Scout helos should standoff 2 or more hexes from enemy units. Keep forest hexes and other blocking / movement limiting  terrain between your scout helo and enemy ground units to discourage them from closing the distance and engaging you with flak. 2. Attack helos. Stand off 2 hexes when engaging enemy ground units to minimize flak. All ground units have a flak capacity - even artillery. Best to stay out of enemy flak range when possible. Be sure to review attack factors. Most attack helos have good hard target attack factors - most effective against armor, but there are some units that have a more efficient soft attack factor. Plan accordingly. Use attack helos to ambush enemy ground units and to keep eyes on likely enemy avenues of advance. Attack helos are best employed as surgical strike instruments against specific targets of opportunity and to help blunt enemy attacks by picking off lead vehicular formations with Disperse and vehicular destruction results. Stay close to your FAARP HQ’s and always land - get out of movement mode near your FAARP (usually within 3 hexes) to refuel and rearm when low on fuel /ammo. 3. Helo airborne troops. In many ways, your helo troops are your most valuable airborne asset, but for some reason, players don’t always think so. The helo troops allow players to correct a lot of tactical wrongs. For example, forgot to guard a valuable VP hex with regular ground pounders? Fly in a helo airborne battalion. The enemy is putting a lot of pressure on a point in your defense lines, fly in the helo troops to shore up your defense. Need to guard a bridge or hold a vital road junction until the friendly cavalry arrives? It’s a job for the helo guys. Helo airborne troops are also very useful as offensive weapons. Strike deep into enemy territory against targets such as HQ’s, artillery parks and unguarded VP hexes. They are also effective at blocking enemy retreats (when deployed as ground troops). But, your helo airborne troops are somewhat fragile and will suffer horrible casualties when going against enemy armor companies and infantry battalions. It’s never cowardice to fly away to fight another day. There are never enough of these helo airborne troops in scenarios and if used optimally, these units will suffer significant casualties. But, if their use can carry the day for your forces, then their sacrifices will be worth it.   
(6.) Keep HQ’s mobile. Due to random AI detection of enemy HQ radio transmissions, it’s best to keep HQ’s mobile and moving into new positions every few turns - especially high value Divisional and Army HQ’s. Always stack flak units with HQ’s and never leave HQ’s in T-mode at the end of their turn movement. T-mode leaves HQ’s vulnerable to artillery bombardment and airstrikes plus reduces their effective command radius. Keep HQ’s in covered terrain (Forests, towns, cities, etc.) to provide some defense protection. Reminder, HQ’s cannot dig in and don’t generate a zone of control so don’t use them as front line units. However, some HQ’s have large numbers of personnel (100+) and can be used as secondary defense units, provided another combat unit digs in first to construct trenches for the defending HQ unit. Always keep parent HQ units within command and control (C&C) range of their formation combat units to maximize supply and readiness status of the units under their command. 
(7.) Getting all wet. The Warsaw Pact has many recon and mech infantry battalions that are amphibious. Being able to swim across major rivers without the need to cross at a bridge opens up numerous offensive possibilities. Amphibious units can outflank enemy river defenses and make surprise thrusts behind enemy lines by making unobserved river crossings. However, these units are very vulnerable while crossing rivers since they must be in T-mode for 2 turns. Therefore, do NOT attempt a forced river crossing against entrenched enemy defenders with amphibious units! As a newbie MC player in my first PBeM game, “Next Stop Aschaffenburg” (Fulda Gap ’85), I attempted a forced river crossing with 5 Warsaw Pact mech infantry battalions against an entrenched NATO defending force and promptly lost 1,600 troops within a 2-hour game turn!
(8.) What shell to use? Selecting the correct artillery ordnance can make or break your tactical plans. 1.) Regular artillery ordnance. Very effective against soft targets like infantry and effective against hard targets like armor. Modern artillery bombardments are so lethal that you can’t go wrong by turning your gun tubes against any available enemy target. 2.) Mine-laying ordnance. Always nice to artillery deliver a 1 strength mine along suspected enemy advance routes, bridges, chock points (e.g. Road networks that pass through forest hexes), road junctions and even in VP hexes – especially if these VPs are either unreachable by your forces or you want to leave a “nasty gift” for advancing enemy units after your forces vacate the hex. 3. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Now, we get into the really “nasty” artillery ordnance! The use of WMD’s is a double-edged sword and once you open this Pandora’s Box, battlefield conditions can spiral out of control – especially given that NATO response to Warsaw Pact use of chemical weapons is the release and use of tactical nuclear devices! Therefore think long and hard before using WMD! However, WMD usage may be justifiable if your Warsaw Pact forces are experiencing significant setbacks, offensive stalls due to stubborn NATO defenders, or you have suffered enormous and irreplaceable losses in men and equipment and the victory counter is dipping dangerously into an enemy Minor or Major Victory. 3a. Persistent chemicals. These WMD will disperse entire enemy stacks and leave the affected units vulnerable to artillery, air strikes and direct fire combat results. Good for “busting up” enemy stacks and reinvigorating stalled offensive drives. Also can be used in defensive operations to “bust up” advancing enemy stacks to blunt enemy attacks and to be deployed in chock points (similar to mine-laying ordnance). Also, once deployed, persistent chemicals remain for the duration of the game, affecting both enemy and friendly units that enter these hexes. Over time, units in chemical impact hexes will become undispersed – reflecting troops donning chemical retardant suits and vehicular filtration systems dispersing some of the toxic gases. Be careful that when you deploy persistent chemicals, you do not create a second breastwork / defense line for the enemy! In one MC game, my Warsaw Pact opponent was advancing to secure a city VP hex. He deployed persistent chemicals against my defending NATO forces. I simply moved back one hex into prepared entrenched positions secure knowing if he advanced into the chemical impact hexes, his units would suffer Disperses and be vulnerable to attack. 3b. Non-persistent chemicals. Same usage as persistent chemicals; however, the chemical impact hexes will disperse over time allowing unhindered movement of both enemy and friendly units into these hexes. 3c. Tactical nuclear devices. The “grand daddy” of “nasty” WMD and slippage into the unthinkable – joint annihilation. The effects of a tactical nuclear impact hex are devastating – enormous men and equipment losses, stack Disperses and a radioactive contaminated hex for the remaining of the game. When to use? Maybe when all else fails? 

More MC Tactics and Strategies!

  • Bypass and flank enemy positions. The threat of being surrounded / isolated will cause the enemy to abandon positions.
  • Moving units in Travel (T)-mode. You should NOT move stacks of units in T-mode! 

    The probability of air interdiction in a hex is based on the following:  
    • Number of units in T-mode moving into hex.
    • Modified by any terrain.
    • Probability is halved at dawn and dusk.
  • Engineers. Keep these units near your offensive axis to clear mines and obstacles.
  • HQ's. Don't stack other units (except AA) with HQ's. These units may be detected each turn (radio interceptions) and then can be targeted by enemy airstrikes and/or artillery.
  • Heavy armor (M1's and Leopard II's). When this armor is entrenched in urban / forest hexes, it is nearly impossible (short of using WMD) to extract or destroy. Enemy must bypass and flank.
  • Entrenching. I believe entrenching has a nearly 100% success rate per turn. This reflects armor and mech infantry units having specialized mechanized entrenching equipment that travels with the units. I believe non-mech infantry does it the "old fashioned way" and uses a manual entrenching shovel - one per man!
  • Mech Infantry: WP fields several carrier models. The BMP-2 are the most lethal. These carriers have a hard attack range of 2 and can knock out armor effectively. Also, all WP mech infantry are amphibious and can cross major rivers without using bridges.
  • Quality versus Quantity. NATO has Morale A and B units that have superior attack range and sometimes thermal imaging sights (TIS). In night combat, a non-TIS units that fires on a unit that has TIS, the fire value is halved. When a unit that has TIS fires at a non-TIS unit, the fire value is doubled.  WP has Morale C units and LOTs of troops per unit. WP armor units usually have 20-25 tanks and WP mech infantry units have 500 men!



Regards, Mike / "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." - George S. Patton /
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01-04-2020, 09:22 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-15-2020, 08:56 AM by Mowgli.)
RE: Modern Campaigns - Tactics and Strategies!
These are some excellent tips! I was unaware that artillery can dig-in and fire in the same turn. 

A remark on helicopters: At first sight, they're very good spotters for artillery. However, unless they have started their turn within the very short nominal command range of their FARP (usually 3-4 hexes), they count as detached and any artillery barrage they call in will have 50% fire power only. (I've tested it ingame, it's true!). So here you have another reason (apart from fetching ammo) to let your helicopters operate close to their FARP. [The manual, pdf-page 68, says that air strikes are affected as well, but I haven't tested that ingame]

AA units: Many AA units have a great range (4 hexes). In order to fully exploit that range, however, your AA units still need to see the enemy choppers coming. For this reason, it can be wise to position AA units on hills (at least at daytime when visibility is beyond 1 hex). Preferably in good cover, of course. However, the firepower is negatively affected by increasing range.

Delay tactics
I think this might be of particular interest for any inexperienced NATO player, but can be applied to the defence in any Panzer/Modern Campaigns title more generally as well. As a NATO player, you face the problem that you need to delay the soviet advance. All those giant soviet units are superior to your units both in terms of fire power and in assault power (they're about twice as strong, if you do the math). Your units have better stats but are much smaller in size, which means that every loss hurts your combat power. So how do you pull off a delay without getting utterly destroyed? 

As the enemy's fire actions are much more powerfull than yours, you need to minimize the number of times the enemy gets to fire on you (and maximize the number of your fires on the enemy). This is achieved by making proper use of opportunity fire. Opportunity fire is great because: 1) It's free. It doesn't cost any movement points, so it allows your units to fire without cutting down their manoeuverability. 2) Opportunity fire doesn't trigger the opponent's opportunity fire. This is very important in situations in which your units are outmatched and outnumbered. You really don't want to fire actively, i.e. in your turn, if there are 5 soviet artillery batteries and 2 soviet monster bataillons pointing their guns at you. 

So what I tend to do is to use my turn exclusively for manoeuvre: In my turn, I move my units out of sight and range of the enemy. I  don't fire (except for artillery) as this will give the enemy a chance to opportunity fire at my troops. By retreating, I force the enemy to approach me in his turn. This will achieve two things for me: 

1) It will cut down the opponent's offensive power and thereby reduce my casualties: For each 1/3 of its movement allowance it needs to spend in order to approach myunit, an enemy unit loses one of its 3 fire actions. What's more: If it uses over 1/3 of its allowance, the enemy unit can't assault (which is the most dangerous weapon of WP units against NATO). How much space you need to trade for reducing the enemy's combat power depends on the terrain and the enemy's movement speed/manoeuverability. Obviously it's harder to conduct a delay against tank units and in open terrain. But don't underestimate the importance of even small streams. They won't prevent the enemy from getting to you, but at least they will reduce the number of times the enemy can fire on you. This might allow you to make a stand and delay the enemy for one more turn. Artillery mines are also a great tool to steal fire actions from your enemy or spoil his assault plans. 

2) By retreating, you force the opponent to approach you during his own turn, which will give your units opportunity fires on the approaching enemy units. The ideal situation would be one in which the enemy needs to spend over 2/3 of his movement allowance to approach you, so he cannot fire even once, while your unit peppers the enemy with 3 opportunity fire actions. How much fire power those soviet units have doesn't matter if you don't allow them to fire! Note, however, that even a unit that has spent all its movement allowance can still call in artillery.

And another word of warning: You need to make sure that your retreat paths are adequatly covered. If the hexes through which you disengage from the enemy are within range and sight of the enemy (hard target range = 2 for most units; in daylight range 3 is also dangerous because of enemy artillery), you will draw enemy opportunity fire. So don't be that guy! Your retreat path should either be out of sight of the enemy (hills, woods, dawn/dusk/night) or at least offer excellent cover. You should plan your retreat positions in advance accordingly. A retreat path that can be overlooked by the enemy is no good. In daylight, hills can be very crucial for this reason.

Unless the Soviet troops strongly concentrate on one point (1 fire by 6 units is still a total of 6 fires against your single unit! :( ), it's hard for them to cause a breakthrough against such a delay, or even to inflict significant damage. I think that the recent rule change has also made it safer (disruption reduces movement allowance only by 33% and only during night turns). I think the worst enemy of NATO players are concentrated soviet tank bataillons who start their turn out of sight, cross open terrain (spending fewer than 1/3 of their movement) and assault into a NATO unit - all within the same turn. If the WP player fails to surprise and assault in a single turn, then the NATO player is safe (can move away, can call in artillery and airstrikes on the soviet attack force).

Thoughts on recon units
Let's face it: Recon units are very vulnerable and don't have any fire power. So in order to use them properly, you have to concentrate on the recon unit capabilities not as a fighting unit, but as another "manoeuver" counter. One way you can use recon units is to let them prepare defensive positions for your combat units. It is often risky to move units in travel mode due to the threat of air interdiction. Recon units are smaller in size and thus have a lower risk of being struck by enemy airpower while moving in travel mode. So they can blitz ahead of the slower units into the target hex and prepare defences for them. Another idea is to use recon units to secure supply corridors (lift the opponent's zone of control in hex to allow supply to pass through - but beware that the opponent could assault your recon unit...). Recon units can also be used for the delay/screen tactics described above: use their zone of control to stop the opponent, keep your losses low by increasing distance. You should make sure that the enemy gets none or only a single fire action at them each turn, as recon units are so vulnerable. If you only expect enemies in travel mode, your recon units can be placed more confidently (units in travel mode only have 50% fire power, so you will take fewer losses even if the enemy gets 2 fires on you). And last but not least, there are the typical suicide missions: You can use recon units to reveal enemy units (ideally, you reveal your recon unit to as few unspotted hexes at a time as possible, at a range of 2 and with good cover) and to draw the opponent's opportunity fires. In both cases your recon units will typically suffer many casualties. Provoking the opponent's fire can be quite worthwhile during night turns. It will keep enemy units from recovering fatigue. Instead, their fatigue will increase, potentially/randomly quite significantly (the night fatigue optional rule is usually active by default). The loss of 2 or 3 recon vehicles can be a comparatively cheap price for e.g. 30 enemy fatigue on the combat units of an enemy stack.
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