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sinisteral

Operation Backblast : finding the best way to command a platoon in Arma.

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PART 3 IS UP!

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INTRODUCTION

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Evening everybody, long time lurker and Arma player since good 'ol Armed Assault. I've always been hungry to command a platoon (one of my desired jobs in life - but thats for another topic :P ). Anyhow, I also am an enthusiast of not getting men killed, I can't stand it and when dodgy AI won't do what I tell it to or be capable of survival, I try my absolute best to find a way of preserving little virtual lives.

Weird? Of course, ish.

What's resulted in this hunger is a slightly modified SLX in combination with the outstanding Invasion 1944 mod. I created a mission with about 35-38 men in total (not including a random chance of having an armored aid, three shermans), close enough to a platoon, using high command and as much tactical know how pulled from infantry manuals and good old common sense, I attempted to use the British paras to assault a German occupied village, the village was manned by randomly placed squads (automatically told to hold up in cover to defend) and MG and PAK (an AT static weapon placement) guns that have random values to appear or not. I didn't want some mission where I knew all the enemy placements so that my command was a scripted event.

Of course there is one small historical inaccuracy in my load out, I have a "thing" for the browning machine gun, what of it!

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FOREWORD : AI & TRAINING

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Before I get started on the recount of the battle, I must note that I prefer the SLX ai to zeus specifically for the reason of MANEUVER. A crucial aspect of the infantry platoon and squad is fire and maneuver, for without fire, maneuver fails and without maneuver - you WILL be flanked, surrounded, but rammed - the works.

I've run many of my own tests where I examine the way the AI work under DANGER mode, both under fire by myself, other AI. The default AI (No offense BI) is garbage. They drop down immediately - start their serenade of "GO, I'LL COVER YOU" and get cut up - little movement, zeus was much better in getting to cover, but they did not maneuver.

Then came SLX, I believe from examining of the PBOs it uses both a modified findcover and GL4 - Don't quote me on that but whatever it does - it works.

In high command, AI didn't (usually) stray off from its position away form its unit, when moving in danger, they moved quickly but with efficient fire support and cover - it was very good.

Bear in mind I've clocked hundreds of hours into Arma, you will get better but sometimes the sandbox will just surprise over and over till your wounded on the ground thinking how the bloody hell that pineapple got there.

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THE BATTLE

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f53c3k.jpg

From this we can see my starting position, my module setup, the possible static weapon placements and the approximate infantry strength of the town. Off-screen is the possible armor support on the southern/south east direction from the town that moves along the road to support an assault (with a created radio command "send in the tanks!"

Initial Man Count : 28 Infantrymen, not including my command section (Also carrying a disassembled heavy machine gun for that extra fire support).

http://img705.imageshack.us/img705/461/2011042900003.jpg link is intentional to save space

I initially move squads 1-3 to form a defensive line, 1st section secure the nearby farmhouse to act as a casualty collection point and ammo dump, whilst guarded by 2nd section in a defensive line between those hedgerows and the road into town. 4th section is in a V formation covering the south and west flanks and 3rd section is in reserve.

I placed all squads in stealth mode to keep them low, observant and aware of what might lie ahead. 2nd section (furthest to the north) has an excellent position covering all routs west and has a natural small slope for good cover and concealment.

Now to make contact.

http://img857.imageshack.us/img857/6748/2011042900005.jpg

I moved by myself, using the hedgerows (A blessing and a total nightmare.) for cover to get my binoc's on the town.

2011042900006.jpg

Immediately those Krauts were up in my grills, with a keen eye and a hungry MG42 covering the road and the dead ground, immediately it was added to high command and all units were notified. Remembering my initial plan, I let off a few shots from my weapon and bolted back towards my units that I had set up, along with a good old HMG surprise for my dear kraut friends.

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/3861/2011042900008.jpg

About 20 seconds after my shoot and scoot, the lads from 2nd section opened up on my pursuers - firing from their well concealed position put the unit in chaos, we decimated their ranks with 2nd's rifle fire and my MG emplacement.

But alas, the joy of decimating the (now fleeing/dragging their wounded away) krauts was short lived. Remember those tanks I talked about?

http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/9705/2011042900011.jpg

Old mate had decided he wanted a fair go at the combat, and (even though I had not giving the order over the radio to advance) old mate charged his line of tanks straight through our fields of fire.

And straight into the sights of the PAK AT emplacement that had been placed out of my sight.

I must admit, I kept my forces in their positions for a minute - my jaw to the desk as these tanks were mowed down by 88mm death rounds. I decided to move 3rd section around the hedgerows to try and get some fire on the krauts, now charging the disabled tanks with multiple squads. I moved 3rd from reserve to 4th's old position.

http://img69.imageshack.us/i/2011042900013.jpg/

If I were to give an award for consistent and accurate fire 2nd section absolutely covered us all and I was proud of their AI to be sticking in cover and just pumping those hedgerows full of sweet lead.

Our first casualty came in, not dead, just wounded and in need of a medic - our only medic was attached to my command section and I was responsible for his actions - it was micro management that (at that time) I was prepared to deal with. He was from first squad, and had moved forward to kill a kraut firing on our HMG from a concealed position, immediately his buddy about 8 meters behind put down some fire and hastily dragged his mate back to my position and I directed my medic to heal him. Again this is why I love the SLX mod, you have these moments where you can really get back on your feet from getting wounded men come in.

2011042900012.jpg

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PART 2: ASSAULT!

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With our wounded in cover, the tankers being either dead in a coffin of steel and fire or running for their lives to escape the wrath of three Kraut grenadier squads, I had to make a decision, I still think about whether it was the right one to make because of the casualties that happened.

I sent 4th section to flank around the hedgerows and support those tankers, my command section and my trusty browning moved up to just before the dead ground, setting up the MG, holding fire, waiting for the tankers to get the hell down. 2nd section was firing away, it had received one wounded, savable - he was hastily dragged behind cover by a brave rifleman who then gave first aid to ensure he would survive until my medic got there. 3rd section was now up in my previous area supporting 1st sections movement up the road.

http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/9910/2011042900019.jpg

The first death

He was from 4th section, I have no idea how he died, I called in a sitrep, one dead. Infuriated I called OPEN FIRE to my placed section and they let rip, the browning effectively raking the hedgerows as I sprinted through the open ground to make sense of the death. The sound was literally deafening at this point - just the way I liked it.

Getting to 4th section, I was pleased by their fire on the enemy so I searched the area for the body. Nothing.

I stuck with the lads for a minute or two, getting some observation on the kraut positions but I needed to get back to my command section, casualties were coming in from second and first and I needed to get over there with my medic.

So, another chorus of gunfire and I was sprinting back to my boys, delighted to see them all alive I ran forward to get beside my machine gunner.

Then it all happened in slow motion, a bullet, pinged off the browning, setting a fair amount of dirt into the faces of the men on the ground. I nealed to take a shot at this elusive marksman before he fired again but before I could find him. CRACK!

This was followed by a 3 second silence, it felt a lot longer as I watched one of my rifleman slump to the ground.

From that point forward I made it a primary objective to keep the rest of us alive, taking the town was gonna need to be swift now that we had started to be flanked and pinned.

And so with my remaining rifleman from my section, I gave the order to advance into town.

2011042900017.jpg

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A word on the making of

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This was a challenging mission, death came swiftly in earlier builds where the accuracy and cunnign tactics of the krauts was unknown to myself. Often when I engaged a squad and dug in, they would feign attack, fall back - waiting for my advance before hurling their "mashers" at me.

Sometimes shots would pierce through the hedgerows from unseen enemies and you'd be dead. It was that simple. Later I would become loathing of the tactical debacle that came with having hedgerows. They were truly awful to fight in and I finally understand all those tales of Normandy about how the hedgerows separated units and generally made all tactics FUBAR.

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PART 3 : "Follow me"

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With my center section firing away with my machinegunner, I told my medic to stay put, took my two riflemen and sprinted to the hedgerows near the north road. With my flank sections advancing, I needed to make a quick assessment on whether we were walking into a death trap or we had the krauts on the run. As my two rifleman fired and moved pretty quickly, I made up time, sprinting to the hedge.

http://img809.imageshack.us/img809/8124/2011042900023.jpg

I was greeted by the large barrel of a PAK at the end of the road, a round whistled through the air past me and I charged the gun emplacement, quickly rounding the barrell and spraying a good 20 rounds into my attackers, dead.

http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/7462/2011042900025.jpg

With my riflemen catching up to me, we continued to assault straight through the main road, surprisingly the Germans either thought that my riflemen and I were a large force or simply saw how pissed off I was for their shootings of my two men. Probably a wee bit of both I say...

Anyhow the Germans that weren't fleeing to the west were hiding in alleys, taking pot shots at us as we cleared the road, my riflemen keeping myself and each other covered, we were never caught off guard. There were wounded krauts everywhere but I had no time to waste, they shot at us, they can bloody wait.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/6386/2011042900028.jpg

We continued up the road to be fired upon from the final building, an excellent MG position - but only rifle fire for the moment. I was in no position to let them make it an MG position either. Two frag grenades, one decapitating the legs off a Kraut rifleman and wounding one in a doorway, I then fired onto the position on the second floor. I then heard sub-machinegun fire rake through an alley to my left, checking my map, our left flank section was doing it tough, they had taken a casualty (alive thank f***) but were being fired upon from concealed positions behind a large hedgerow.

I sprinted through the alley, coming out to a bare green field with the section on my left firing into the hedgerows. I put in a couple of shots before realising that there was movement out of the corner of my left view. I turned to look -

Crack!

K98, bolt action, cracked straight past me, I crouched and emptied my magazine riddling the shadow with holes - and the porta-loo.

Second problem: dead mans click.

My rifleman had driven the Krauts from earlier from their position inside the building, the section to the north now pursuing them with a vengeance.

As for me I looked around, spotting a squad leaders MP40, "close enough" I said, picking it up before raking the hedgerows with a magazine. A frag later and the section and I assaulted the position, they engaged targets straight past the hedgerow - falling back presumably with their buddies from the building. I rounded the corner, guns up, five Germans running towards me. Let loose three bursts, head shots on the first two directly in front of my, maybe five meters ahead. Their runners took probably six rounds into their chests, face planting into the undergrowth.

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/3948/2011042900032.jpg

From the left, the section that assaulted with my and my squad, now returning back to formation, closed in on the retreating Germans coming from the north, luckily that section had gotten some crack shots (To be honest I have no idea how they didn't run out of ammo, being the first to engage the Germans at the beginning ((now seeming like it was days ago!)) ). The Germans were all but defeated. I found their corpses, many absolutely destroyed by explosives.

http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/8054/2011042900038.jpg

This remaining squad however, didn't seem to have a commander.

Their last man was crawling, slowly, away from the battle.

As I walked over to him, rifle fire cracked and whizzed, as the Germans were mowed down by the remaining of us, I walked around to the leader, still crawling. He stopped, looking ahead before looking up at me and raising his weapon.

Crack.

Drilled straight through the head, by his fellow leaders MP40.

I shit you not lads, that was the last shot ever fired. The battlefield fell completely silent, it was just one of those moments thats hard to describe.

We had won! At the expense of two men, one from my squad, another who's body I never found and the multiple walking wounded we took. Nevertheless, we defeated a 30-50 man German opposition, using effective platoon tactics.

Backblast complete, RTB for time travell - British Armed Forces - Using Platoon Tactics against a smaller, insurgent force in the Takistan landscape.

2011042900043.jpg

Coming soon.... muahahahah

Edited by sinisteral
images

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I know this isn't finished yet, but it's awesome! Would be epic if you made a video of the mission!

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UPDATE:

Now that part 3 is done, that whole thing was truly epic!! Can't wait for the modern version!

:D

Edited by richiespeed13

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The German positions have random values, changeable on individual units, for the likelyhood of them being on the battlefield. The MG42s and PAK guns were given about 70 percent chance of being pointed towards the front and of course, being there whereas the tank support was unlikely - as we saw in the report their commander was a wee bit of a idiot.

Also, the grouped infantry was given a general vicinity to guard the town, I believe it was an 80-100 meter spread, and I'll go into this after the report on how the battle was made, anyhow the AI will choose a certain spot in that area, and defend with all his might. It definitely paid off for them in this encounter, they had MG42's pointed right on the open ground before the farmstead - had I taken an entire section forward to advance, these guys would have gotten down and lit me up big time.

I'll most likely make a video of my next American encounter, part 2 will be up by the end of my day (morning in Australia haha).

Thanks for all the kind comments!

Edited by sinisteral

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I've been using SLX with Zeus only removing the ai.pbos from SLX! Think im gonna give it a try like you said as im sick of my team not moving once we've taken fire!

Great read btw :)

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@sinisteral

Could you kindly tell me what you modified in slx, I would like to give it a go. :)

Thank you!

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Very interesting. Looking forward to reading more about this. Are you having any issues with SLX and it crashing the game? That's why I stopped using it.

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part 2 is up!

EDIT:

I will post a detailed making of, including what I did to the SLX folder and how I got it working well, without crashes, with Invasion 1944!

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Im pretty new to Arma but i've been using Zeus as standard, but having tried the SLX ai i can now say i will never go back to zeus!

With SLX ai, my men actually do what i want! When i advance they advance, and when i change direction on the fly, my team infront of me will too advance and follow suit! Even after we have been attacked, which with zeus would completely 'eff' them up as they would ignore me and stay put, causing me to make very little progress moving forward and become surrounded and flanked to hell!

Definitely thumbs up for this one!

Thanks!

---------- Post added at 12:47 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:43 AM ----------

Very interesting. Looking forward to reading more about this. Are you having any issues with SLX and it crashing the game? That's why I stopped using it.

If you remove the netcode.pbo and all other pbos that require it, you should have no issues after that! Its stable!

Once the netcode is removed, when you start arma it will say, cant load .... because of netcode...

You will then need to close arma and go into SLX\Addons and remove whichever file it was.

There is around 10 files that use the netcode and you will only be told about 1 at a time when you start up so, a bit of a pain having to close and load arma but well worth it!!!

Hope this helps :)

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Refer to the SLX thread. :)

I've searched for an SLX thread and can't seem to find one. Also i wonder why the mod is not included in the list within Six Updater?

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Part three is up, prepare for a modern counter-insurgency operation soon!

Cheers for the great comments guys, it was a pleasure writing.

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Part three is up, prepare for a modern counter-insurgency operation soon!

Cheers for the great comments guys, it was a pleasure writing.

Any chance of posting the mission file? be interested to see how you set it up.

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Now that part 3 is done, that whole thing was truly epic!! Can't wait for the modern version!

:D

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Posting the mission file is possible, I'll look into it but it may take time to create a more "user friendly" mission.

Backblast Insurgency will be coming soon, soon soon, within a week soon. Chances are it will be a video commentary, so you can get that easy to understand format to understand how the battle unfolds, how the mission is made, all that juicy stuff.

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This is good read! sounded like it was taken straight from a real war story in WW2.

Having more pictures that captures "the moment" will definitely make this even greater.

Be waiting for your takistan encounter.

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Excellent thread, sir!

Reading it reminded me a bit about Close Combat.

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