Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Achtung Panzer Kharkov 1943 - The Infantry Game - Bring a (Better) Gun to a Gunfight

Two very well known 3D tactical war games have a weak spot and that is infantry modelling. The Panzer Command series (Matrix) has come a long way since their first title, but the way infantry is modeled continues to be disappointing. The Combat Mission series has evolved from its abstracted squads to an explicit 1:1 representation but unfortunately Battlefront has downgraded other features of the engine (like the so-called "tactical AI", the one that used to oversee the overall performance of the computer-controlled troops) to an extent that negatively affects the whole combat experience.

I recently resumed playing Achtung Panzer Kharkov 43 (APK43) and I am focusing on infantry combat. I don't expect these infantry-oriented series of entries that I start today to be very popular. We all prefer the fast pace of armor combat against the slug-fest of infantry combat. But ... Ey! You don't drop by this blog for visceral game play stories, don't you?

So here is what happened. Me as the Germans commanding a full company of dismounted panzer grenadiers against computer-controlled Russian infantry. I am giving orders with a single click to whole platoons  at this time. My point platoon approaches one of those villages with a single row of houses leaning on one side of a road. The point platoon comes under fire from the odd and only house that is on the other side of the road, at the opposite extreme of the village. Great position, awesome field of fire, great job by the Russian AI. I command the point platoon to put the whole village between them and the nasty Russian defensive position. The fog of war doesn't allow to determine which type of Russian unit is firing at us. I want suppressive fire on the enemy so I command the whole point platoon to put some fire into the Russian position.

All by themselves, a few grenadiers get out of the cover offered by the houses and cross the road into an open field. It's like in Close Combat (a fire order will result in soldiers moving to a location where they can see the target)! But that's not just it: the first grenadiers that moved out to provide suppressive fire were carrying MG42s! All of this with just one click.

These grenadiers crossed the road to get a better field of fire. In the foreground, two MG42s and one submachine gunner. In the background, one additional MG42 is about to join the fun.



UsF said...

Was it really that wise to send the MG42 first? I mean I do not know the exact setup, but if there is a whole town inbetween you and the place you want to suppress, doesn't that mean that the first guy could easily be picked off by a sniper or killed in another ambush? :?
Personally, I would send an SMG ahead closely followed by the MG42. The machinegunner is pretty much defenseless as he moves into position and the SMG soldier would have a better chance at reacting to incoming new hostiles.

Singleton Mosby said...

I actually look forward to a series of articles on the use of infantry in AP:43. They are not the easiest units to handle in the game and on many occasions they didn't follow my orders by the letter as I wanted them to do.
So, bring it on ;)

JC said...

Ey UsF,

Good points. But all was done by the AI by itself. :) In how many other games you see something like this? :)

Thanks for dropping by, sir. I'm enjoying your Victoria 2 AAR review.