Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Infantry Combat in Built Up Areas - Two things I Learned the Hard Way - ArmA 3

I usually fight alongside AI bots and against AI bots, but still I hope somebody who plays multiplayer will find this entry useful.

360 Degrees Security

This is me (front) and my fireteam. We found ourselves in a very narrow place in some Altis town.
While maneuvering my teams in built up areas I use the file (compact column) formation. One of the problems with the file formation is that it doesn't automatically assign any AI bot to cover our rear. The closest alternative, staggered column, will keep a bot watching the back of the team. But the staggered formation tends to severely mess up the path finding within towns and villages.

An insurgent appeared on our backs and nobody noticed ... 
... Until it was too late! Nobody was watching there.

The solution was to use the "watch there" command for the soldier on the rear of our formation. In this case I had him watching that yellow house from where the insurgent pops up. The AI team mate will look into the rear right after the fire team stops. So, short and deliberate movements are a must.

A retry. Note the guy in the rear watching our backs. The insurgent has just ran through the intersection and noticed our fire team.

The insurgent, now engaged by two of my soldiers, gets hit in a hail of fire.
I deliberately avoided to show how the "watch there" command saves lives when enemy units pop up from the left or right. Just to keep it short. I think you get the idea.

To Kill a Keyholed MG, "Kill" its Dead Space First

Keyhole positions are ones with narrow and deep sectors of fire. A keyhole position is difficult to target simultaneously by a whole group of attackers. The attacker's bounding group falls in the keyhole's field of fire and the over-watch group can't target the keyhole position. I posted about this a long while back.

An OPFOR MG team in a keyhole position. Note the narrow field of fire in the far background. Note the building under construction in the mid-background, to the left.
The biggest vulnerability of weapons in keyhole positions is that they generate a lot of dead space (i.e. ground where the weapon has no field of fire). That dead space is usually covered by infantry.

CSAT infantry at the building under construction, which is the biggest offender in terms of dead space for the MG team.

CSAT infantry in defilade, covering the closest area in front of the building under construction. This is covering in overdrive (i.e. the cover team is covered by another cover team. Gah!)
And yet another CSAT two man team covering the approach to the building under construction (mid background). This two man team just happens to be in another construction project. I hope it doesn't get too confusing.
"Killing" the dead space. My MG and me engage the CSAT troops covering the dead space from the front. Prone and pinged by an occasional enemy round, but our fire superiority over the CSAT riflemen is evident. 
With the CSAT two men team up front gone, we walk through the dead space with great caution. But now we can engage the two OPFOR covering teams under our terms and making use of as much cover as we can.
Engaging enemy troops in defilade is a tricky proposition (we are advancing towards the right of this picture), but it can be done with relative easy following a few techniques (more on this in a future blog entry).
After eliminating all the enemy infantry teams covering the dead ground, we close into the MG, which is located in that alley between the two buildings. We are located on the side of the building under construction, which turned to be as predicted both the biggest asset and liability for the MG. 
I didn't even had to aim my gun straight onto the enemy MG team. A couple of rounds with the grenade launcher (picture above shows me loading a round) and the enemy was gone.

Two more body bags needed here.


Chris said...

Very cool JC. I don't play Arma but I always feel like I should play it after reading your posts about the game!

Brad Koziey said...

Yes very cool! I tried ARMA 2 some time ago and got really frustrated with the learning curve. I don't mind putting in the time but I felt it was lacking a good training system. Has anything changed with 3 ?

Johan said...

There's an update coming very soon, with a "Bootcamp" training environment for new players.

That should be good for teaching the game mechanics and controls, but as for tactics, that's best learned through playing the game. Also, the great thing about Arma compared to regular shooters is that real life tactics are actually useful.

For instance, running over an open field is bad, and is likely to get you killed without even seeing the enemy. You have to use the map and plan your movements, always use cover and concealment, move slowly and carefully and maintain situational awareness.

Just the basic infantry stuff! :-)

badanov said...

My main problem with Arma 2 is my AI squadmates shooting me in the back. Nothing personal, though :o)

JC said...

Hello and thanks for your comments.

It takes some time to get acquainted to the AI bots in ArmA. Although I would recommend multiplayer as the best option, I can't say I did not manage to make some sense out of my team mates.


Johan said...

Another point about commanding the AI teammates in Arma, you should only use the formations when travelling, for keeping in formation while moving longer distances.

If enemy contact is expected or happens, you need to disable the formation immediately and instead command the AI soldiers by giving them individual orders.

The reason is that while being in formation, the AI puts top priority on remaining in formation. That means if you take a couple of steps in any direction, every one of your AI teammates will forget about staying in cover, or about the enemy about to shoot them in the face, and get up and run a couple of steps in the same direction as you, to maintain the formation. It tends to get them killed very quickly. The AI is actually quite competent fighters when not tied down to you this way in a formation.