Anti-tank Gun Issues

Real time World War II combat simulation
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Andy Brown
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Anti-tank Gun Issues

Post by Andy Brown » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:09 pm

I've been mucking around a bit with anti-tank guns (ATGs) because I tend to agree that, at the moment, they're not worth wasting points on. In 3.99m (which is what I was using), a tank is easily worth two ATGs. Two bazookas/PIATs/panzershrecks are much more survivable than the one ATG you usually get for the same price.

The main problem seems to be that they are far too easily spotted. This is ironic because the usual complaint is that enemy infantry is too HARD to spot. ATGs, however, seem to be immediately pinpointed the moment they open fire.

(I was watching one game where the ATG's opening shot hadn't even reached the target before the target fired back).

I'm perfectly happy for lots of "firing at muzzle flashes" to take place but I feel that ATG spotting (ie when the icon actually appears on the map) should use the same rules as infantry.

The usual, historical response to ATGs was to saturate the area where the ATGs were thought to be with as much fire as possible in order to put them off their aim, so I'm quite happy for the enemy to blast away at the general area of my ATGs in the same way that they blast away at unseen, firing infantry. However, IMO, the immediate pin-pointing of the ATGs is overdone and makes them unrealistically ineffective.

ATGs seemed to work much better pre-3.99 :?:

The next thing that really cheapens ATGs is the way the crew abandons them the moment anyone starts shooting at them. This is so wrong it hurts.

The whole purpose of AT gunners is to fight ATGs. Abandoning their guns is not something gunners do easily - the gun is the only way they've got of hurting the enemy. Also, most ATGs had a shield which provided some protection. The current "run away!, run away!" model that Firefight uses is badly overdone. You don't see Firefight infantry squads behaving like that! Numerous historical examples exist of ATGs being fought to the end by wounded crew and a little more resolve on the part of Firefight gun crews would be appropriate, I suggest.

Once again, it seemed to work much better pre-3.99 :!:

My final point is more of a tactical one. I can't really argue about it because it's what I like to see happen when I'm up against ATGs but it needs to be born in mind when sighting them.

Once an ATG is spotted, it seems to become a priority target. Everything in range seems to ignore anything else and open up on them. This makes sense, of course, because once the ATGs are dead, opposing tanks become much more effective but it's not good news for the gunners.

This usually means, therefore, that putting ATGs where they get the best shots also means putting them where the most enemy will be able to shoot at them. There's not a lot you can do about this except try and site them as far back as possible, out of enemy small arms range, or hide them behind terrain features with much reduced fields-of-fire. These are problems that real anti-tank gunners had to deal with so I'm not going to grizzle about them but they do become a bitch when the other two items I've mentioned also get factored in.

The enemy's almost inevitable "tank rush onto the objective" does allow ATGs to be positioned "less realistically but more effectively" if all you're worried about is winning a game of Firefight. :)

Andy

Quitch
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Post by Quitch » Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:18 pm

I tend to place ATGs on the backs of hills so that tanks roar by and get blasted, or I place them so they all cover the same area but from different locations so that if one is being pinned, the other can shoot at the thing pinning it.

The best place for them is in woods and houses, where they can hide and hold fire until they have a good shot at a tank. I believe placing them in ruined houses was quite popular in WWII (?).

Andy Brown
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Post by Andy Brown » Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:27 pm

Quitch wrote:I tend to place ATGs on the backs of hills so that tanks roar by and get blasted, or I place them so they all cover the same area but from different locations so that if one is being pinned, the other can shoot at the thing pinning it.


Which is exactly what was done during WW2. Must be why it works! :)

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:08 pm

I'll make AT guns less spottable when they fire and I agree that the crew shouldn't run away so much. They think they're infantry caught in the open so they run for cover when they should shelter behind the gun more.

Quitch
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Post by Quitch » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:36 pm

Their spottableness should, IMO, depend on two things (and tanks should follow the same rules):

1. Am I in cover, a house, the woods etc.

2. Have I moved

The first means harder to spot, while a gun/tank that hasn't moved will have camo nets, be dug in hull down etc.

Andy Brown
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Post by Andy Brown » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:39 pm

Sean O'Connor wrote:I'll make AT guns less spottable when they fire and I agree that the crew shouldn't run away so much. They think they're infantry caught in the open so they run for cover when they should shelter behind the gun more.


I'll look forward to seeing the results. It's tough to know exactly what levels of "spotability" and "perseverance" will be appropriate and clearly RAW troops should be more visible and less steady than ELITE ones. I think it's clear, however, that the present model is too extreme in these regards.

Andy

Quitch
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Post by Quitch » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:47 pm

Yes, AT crew running away from the gun is truly annoying. I look forward to seeing that fixed.

Next up, the useless HMG issue... :)

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:24 am

Quitch wrote:Yes, AT crew running away from the gun is truly annoying. I look forward to seeing that fixed.


The reason this happened more often lately is because I decided to make it so that if you spotted the AT Gun then you'd automatically spot the crew too, and that would make all your infantry want to shoot at them. I think I'll change that back.

Quitch wrote:Next up, the useless HMG issue... :)


What was that again?

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Post by Quitch » Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:03 pm

IMO the HMG isn't worth its cost. It doesn't seem to surpress better than a rifle team, can't assault like a rifle team and is surpressed easier than a rifle team. They have superior range, which never helps :)

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Post by Sean OConnor » Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:28 pm

Quitch wrote:IMO the HMG isn't worth its cost. It doesn't seem to surpress better than a rifle team, can't assault like a rifle team and is surpressed easier than a rifle team. They have superior range, which never helps :)


OK, what I had planned to do was to make it so that HMGs get suppressed much less easily from incoming fire. I think this is realistic as if you have a big mean weapon you'd be less scared of people firing puny rifles at you. Hopefully that will help!

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Post by Quitch » Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:37 pm

IMO, the best way to make an HMG useful is to either make their supression last long than rifle supression, to reduce the cost (since a rifle squad has an LMG anyway and I have real trouble telling their effectiveness apart) or allow them to supress multiple squads.

Harder to supress might work as I guess an HMG crew, when under fire, just swung the gun around.

Andy Brown
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Post by Andy Brown » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:03 pm

The advantages of an HMG should be:

Range: The 850m x 850m Firefight map isn't really big enough for this to be important and the HMG maximum range of 550m is too short anyway - they should at least be able to shoot from one side of the map to the other.

Ammo: They should have lots of ammo and therefore a much higher volume of fire than the LMGs in the infantry squads.

(Here I'm talking primarily about rifle calibre MGs mounted on tripods like the German MG34 and MG42. Properly "heavy" HMGs like the US .50 cal are a bit different, designed more to smash things rather than suppress them but my discussion is more-or-less valid for them as well).

Things I've noticed with Firefight HMGs are:

Too easily knocked out: In "real life", HMGs tend to be heavily dug in and camouflaged, something Firefight doesn't permit. They also tend to have bigger crews, at least three men, preferably four or five.

In real life, HMGs work best firing at a distance across the front of friendly troops, exploiting the characteristics of grazing fire and beaten zone.

Grazing fire refers to the fact that a bullet fired from, for example, the British 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun at a target 600m away over flat ground will never rise more than four feet (1.2 m) above that ground and is therefore a threat to any man-sized target anywhere along that 600m.

Beaten zone refers to the cigar-shaped pattern the bullets make when they hit the ground around the point-of-aim.

If I understand Firefight correctly, a casualty occurs when a virtual bullet actually collides with a virtual man so Firefight's approximation of these effects should be pretty reasonable (although if suppression only occurs when bullets land near a man, rather than also when they go cracking past him, this effect will be somewhat diminished).

The idea, therefore, is to stick the HMGs out to the flanks away from the main infantry fighting positions but able to fire back across the front of them so that enemy infantry advancing on your infantry lines up with your MG's axis-of-fire and fits nicely into the beaten zone.

Putting the HMGs out to a flank also gets them away from the main infantry positions where, hopefully, most of the enemy's fire will be directed. This is very important in Firefight as, not being able to dig themselves in, the couple of guys grouped closely round an HMG above ground are (as they should be) extremely vulnerable.

Because, in Firefight, an HMG is not able to properly exploit its range advantages, and because it is often impossible to site them in the protective terrain they need to be really effective, they should probably be worth about half a squad in terms of purchase credits.

I've seen some good work from Firefight HMGs that I have managed to position in places where they were able to survive the battle. I get very disappointed with HMGs that do survive with rounds unused. :) Putting HMGs in the firing line, however, is definitely a waste of credits. :!:

Note: Releasing the cradle locking lever so an HMG spins freely on its tripod and blazing away in all directions is Hollywood stuff that only happens when the HMG is being overrun. Proper sustained fire from MMGs and HMGs is a very mathematical affair often involving precise adjustments of fractions of a degree.

Regards,

Andy Brown

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