Monday, October 27, 2014

Combat Mission Red Thunder - Command and Control

I've seen my share of computer opponents just shuffling squads around the map without any consideration of who is commanding them. Even when we play at the "iron" level of complexity.

This short blog entry is about the nuisances of command and control in Combat Mission.

The scenario is from the vanilla version of Red Thunder. In this case, I am commanding a platoon of infantry in a combat patrol role. I have three squads at my disposal, plus the platoon HQ team. It's a night time scenario and that's why the screenshots are darker than usual.

The men of the 2nd Squad (bright green bases, yellow top icon) are selected while they advance across a rail road track. A blue line represents their move order and the red line represents their command line. The line is red (within command) and  links the 2nd Squad with their commanding unit (HQ unit is a few meters back from them (grey flag icon). Note the command box in the info area highlighted at the bottom of the screen. It shows that the 2nd Squad is within visual and shouting command range.

The men from the 3rd Squad are moving into a parallel path (blue line), just in the opposite rail road track. The red line shows that they are within command of their HQ. However, in this case the 3rd Squad can't see the HQ unit (they are farther than the 2nd Squad) and their orders will come from the HQ via shouting (highlighted command info box highlighted yellow at the bottom of the screen). 

1st Squad is located far from the HQ unit and can't see or be seen by the commander. Note the black command line (instead of red) linking the 3rd Squad and an unseen HQ unit.
It is important to keep your subordinates within the command means of HQ units. Out of command subunits/squads will obey the orders given by a player, but will break, suffer morale losses faster than units within command. They will also be more difficult to rally after a morale loss.

One can argue that in this scenario, the limited visibility of a nigh time mission will tend to exaggerate the command and control effects and that is true. But I've seen plenty of squads routed because of the lack of command. Sometimes, even the smoke of battle can put a unit out of command range.

On a final note, It would be extremely great to see units out of command not to execute the orders given by a player. This is what happens in Graviteam Tactics and in Panzer Command Operation Winter Storm. I've heard some people complaining about an excessive tendency of players to focus on the destruction of HQ units in both games. But that's nothing a bit added fog of war can't fix.



Unknown said...

Hi JC do you know of a mod that changes the colours of the command lines? I find it hard to distinguish between the dark red lines and the black lines.

JC said...

Hi and thanks for reading.
I haven't seen one.