Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Combat Mission Game Engine 4: Withdraw Zones in the Scenario Editor

One of the cool features in the new game engine is the possibility to have the computer opponent to withdraw its forces towards a destination.

Pull back! According to the manual: "By shift-left-clicking on the map, AI Groups can be ordered to Withdraw while moving towards their movement destination. Vehicles will move in Reverse to the destination ..."
This computer-controlled US tank destroyer has been assigned a move zone back away from the screenshot. The US vehicle pulls back in reverse while throwing a smoke screen hiding him from a specific point in the map (the distant gap in the treeline) called a withdraw zone.

From the manual:
"Withdraw Zones are a single tile that the AI Group will face towards. For example, a vehicle given a Withdraw Zone will reverse towards the Movement Zone, while keeping its front pointed towards the Withdraw Zone."

As seen above, for vehicles is a simple outcome that the scenario designer should expect. However, for infantry, there are some nuances.

A US platoon programmed to withdraw via the scenario editor. In this screenshot the second squad (selected, foreground) orients itself toward the single terrain tile that has been assigned as the withdraw zone (that bridge in the background). The rest of the platoon (three men of it visible in the background) moves to the rear. 

However, a continuous rear watch is lost if the withdraw order is issued over a relatively long route or if there are multiple consecutive withdraw orders issued for a single team.  In this screenshot not a single man in the platoon is looking towards the bridge (the single tile they are supposed to be facing towards).
For smaller teams, like the squad shown in the foreground of this screenshot, the response is slightly more predictable (i.e. the team spends a bit more of their time watching the withdraw zone). But yet again, if the team is to move through a long distance, expect a short lasting rearguard.

Not that I am complaining, note the prodigious and tactically helpful amount of smoke thrown out by the withdrawing infantry, but I will have to recall this post while designing my scenarios.



Rinaldi AARs said...

Have been incorporating the withdrawal orders with a lot of success in an on-going community project, but am pleasently surprised to see infantry will pop smoke automatically in the retreat! Now, if only we can get the same in the assault.

I often find it unfair to compare Graviteam and CM as they are both par excellence in their own right, but AI automated use of smoke is a gap between the games I wish would be closed.

asdovas said...

as I remember the ww2 infantry used smoke grenades not very often, it wasnt extended. and how frequently do we see this in present-day actions?

RockinHarry said...

Basically you can use the withdraw commands smoke laying capability in offensive ways too, but it requires 1-2 additional orders. I scripted an ifantry Plt. AI group, so that it covers its own forward advance with smoke and does so with proper timing. The smoke usually needs 1-2 turns (depends on wind strenth)to build up, so it´s required to keep the AI group waiting for this time and then move off. Hard to explain. Best to check my newly uploaded scenario at SDIII.