Sunday, January 30, 2011

Air Assault Task Force - Mini Thunder Run

The game: Air Assault Task Force
The scenario: a US Cavalry company reinforced with engineer assets is pushing into Baghdad and trying to spoil an ongoing Iraqi Army withdrawal.
What I want to share: fire and maneuver while on the run with a platoon of M1A2 Abrams tanks.

Click the image for an expanded view. The graphics are a bit dated (this scenario is quite old), but you have to give it to me that ProSimCo games rock when it comes to immersive military command decision making. The white slashed areas are urban terrain of different densities. Our axis of attack (Warrior) is a nightmare: obstacles (not depicted since I don't know where they are) and AT missile ambushes along the roads (white lines) leading to the bridge south of objective Fox.
Click the image for a better view. Black grids on the map are squares of 1 km.  Our order of battle is shown in the right pane of the user interface. I'm going to advance towards phase line Falaise with the First Platoon (4 M1A2 Abrams) up front and the Second Platoon (4 M2A2 Bradleys) in a follow and assume posture/mission. I'm going to avoid the main road on axis Warrior because it is likely that the AT missiles are aimed directly to them. The edge of the urban terrain south-west of the main road is particularly good for AT positions and I plan to clean it up with the tank platoon.

I know, I know ... urban terrain and tanks do not mix well. But I'm claiming extreme time constrains. An infantry platoon with a "clear" order would take no less than two hours to clear that amount of terrain.

Click the image for an expanded view. First Platoon is in the center of the map, just a few hundred meters before entering the hot zone. The First Platoon will move northeast but keeping itself southwest of the axis Warrior. Selecting a "staggered column" formation for this platoon would result in each individual tank too separated from each other and this would generate mutual support issues.
Click the image for an expanded view. To make sure each tank can support by fire the rest of the platoon I select "none" as the formation and drag the tanks very close to each other.
Click the image for an expanded view. The First Platoon is selected (note the green squares/outlines on each icon in the map) and ready to move (the little green arrows are the waypoints for the Platoon). Most important: the "suppress" order (blue cross with a surrounding green circle): whatever hostile unit is detected within that circle will be fired upon by the tanks. 
Suppression is the name of this game, folks!

Click the image for an expanded view. We made contact right away. The range is close and murderous. In the screen above, the Platoon fires and suppress the enemy position. Note the "S" marker, for suppressed. 
Click the image for an expanded view. I had to move the Platoon really close to identify the enemy position. Now with the unit identified, I can issue a "TRP" order to the platoon so they use their fires to destroy the enemy unit. This AT-5 team, if un-suppressed, would kick our asses from 3 kilometers away. So watch it.

The first AT-5 team is destroyed and I move my units right away. Very important: re-issue a "suppress" order in front of the First Platoon, so they fire away against any hostiles they find on their way.

Click the image for a better view. We are moving and kicking butt. The red "X"s are enemy AT-5 positions destroyed. In the screen shot above, the First Platoon has just encountered another one and I'm issuing a TRP order. It's quite a pleasure to hear the sound of the main guns blasting the enemy position at point blank range.

Click the image for an expanded view. The First Platoon (red and white flag with a number 1) has cleared 3 km worth of AT ambushes (7 of them, marked as red "X"s in the map) and stops short of phase line Falaise. Unfortunately, we lost a tank right at the end (blue "X" in the map) of the run. 


Mike said...


As soon as I saw this post, I went around and tried to find as much research as possible.

A game that allows me to plan, and execute Company level missions in a real time way!?

Downloaded the demo, and was a bit let down. The game mechanics are there, and the concept is great, but the engine is just terrible. I understand the game is a few years old, but at times its unplayable.

I played the JRTC mission where you have to sieze the airstrip. I had everything planned, all my LZ's were picked, all my firemissions had targets, executed...and watched the slaughter.

The AI was quick to start firing, but my units just stood there. I had them on "engage on contact" but nobody fired. A single .50cal technical wiped out 2 UH60's, a OH58 and 2 x AH64's. Nobody fired a single shot in return.

I was ambushed in the north by enemy dismounts, and even with friendly dismounts on the ground it was a slaughter.

Again, the mechanics are there, but the think that the execution of this game is poor.

I am in NO WAY a stickler for graphics, but I think the Dev's could've done a better job.

This game is certainly not worth $45.

Lieste said...

Didn't get into this one either.

Wondered whether you'd looked at Battle Command?

I've got a copy stuffed onto a CD-ROM somewhere, but not currently installed. The system seems to do a fairly detailed treatment of Log and Engineer functions, and has in built multi-player support.

Mike said...

Isn't Battle Command the same engine?

Lieste said...

I don't know - I haven't spent much time with either (needed the disc space for something else and haven't put either back yet).

The 3d terrain in BC might be a bit easier to read than a poorly rendered overhead map - but I don't know if ATF can do that too?

One thing that I found with ATF or it's predecessor was that on-contact drills were not very aggressively followed - which you also seem to say.

JC said...

Thanks for the comments, gents.


I see your point and your observations are in agreement with those of many others with whom I discussed this game series. Yet I think that with some moderate micromanagement plus a lot of pausing, the games are enjoyable.


I heard very good things about that game. Is it playable solo? I have almost no time for multiplayer.


Mike said...

I wish ArmA would take a lesson from games liked this an expand on their "High Command" aspect of their game.

Steel beasts does it well, but their lack of dismounted involvment takes a crucial piece out of the equation.

Esim just announced their alpha build of 3d infantry, so we'll see where that goes

Lieste said...

TBH I have no idea what AI there is, but it is possible to "host and play" on the same machine.

It is free (and not a huge download), but I stumbled across it while searching for engineering/gap crossing information - the documentation had enough detail on the pages to come up high in the search terms... but I didn't do much beyond install look around and then remove it for disk space reasons.

JC said...

Thanks for your comments, guys.

Ditto. I just try to keep the actions at the squad level. Do you have a link to the announcement of the Steel Beasts 3rdID thing?

I will check that one out. Apparently is multiplayer only.


Lieste said...

Nils indicates in #13 that the prototype is expected this week - so a lot more development/artwork/rigging, but it is happening now.

He has indicated there will be no further release of ProPE with sprite infantry.

Jomni said...

I really try to like and buy this game series but I just can't pull the trigger after playing with the demos. Interface is just too clunky and the unpolished presentation makes it look like a joke compared to the games made by Panther Games (published by Matrix Games).

JC said...

Hi Jomni,

Thanks for your comment.

I see your point. I'm not trying to sell you ProSim's games. :) Panther Games have a great interface and friendly-side AI and almost anything out there will be outshined.

There is a free ProSim war game at Armchair General:

It has two scenarios, but it can either make it break for you [at this point I would say is already "break it" :) ].