Sunday, March 1, 2009

Target Fixation Never Good: Tactical Misadventures in Steel Beasts ProPE

Did I ever mentioned Steel Bests ProPE, the best modern tank simulation available to the civilian market?

Even when it costs USD$125.00, this is a ride you ought to have if you are interested in modern tank warfare.

Modern tank battles are fast and deadly and this is clearly depicted in the simulated battlefield of Steel Beasts. That feeling of "what the hell got me?" is constant in Steel Beasts.

In my latest battle, a home-made scenario where I was trying to clear a couple of kilometers-wide gap of Iraqi desert, I got owned by a virtual Iraqi tanker because of my fixation on a single target.

The scenario I made pits a hunter-killer team of M3s Cavalry Fighting Vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks. I choose to be in the "hunter" team of M3s and I moved carefully towards contact. In front of my team there were Iraqi BMP2s and tanks. The questions I wanted to explore is how a "hunter" in these fabled "hunter-killer" teams works. How do you drive an M3 towards contact with an armored threat wit superior fire-power? How difficult is to bug-out once contact was made?

Well, didn't get an answer to those questions.

Still, I learned something: target fixation kills.

Things started bad from the beginning. While trying to make contact and keeping a distance at the same time, I lost my wingman to fire from the right flank.
I quickly called the M1s (couple of kilometers behind) to take position and eliminate the threat. The M1s got something: can you see the smoking Iraqi tank in the horizon of the image above?

To my front, I made contact with a couple of BMP2s and I took them out.

But a third BMP was more difficult to take out.
This Iraqi BMP bugged out fast, under a curtain of smoke. This is the instant where I screwed up. In my eagerness to take the fast-maneuvering BMP out and looking for a slightly better angle to shoot, I got owned from my right flank. There was still a threat in my right flank.

Steel Beasts ProPE has this fantastic AAR (after action report) tool that allows you to see a replay of the battle from any angle. It's a wonderful learning tool.

So, this is what happened to me.

The yellow bar in the image bellow is the shell from the Iraqi tank. Can you see the Iraqi tank in the backgroung (the small smoke puff of its main gun)?

Here's what the Iraqi tanker could see from his point of view. Just that little of me showing up above the dunes was enough ...
And a panoramic view of the whole thing.
I'm in the vehicle in the middle, near the bottom. The BMP I was trying to get is throwing somoke and reversing in the top left. The small puff of the Iraqi tank is visible in the extreme right, top corner.

And this is a closer view of the Iraqi tank.

Besides letting my guard down at the flanks, I guess that I failed miserably because I got decisively engaged with my first contacts. I was supposed to spot targets and call the tanks, not taking them myself.


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