TacOps FAQ

This document is licensed under the BSD license at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BSD/

Revision History
Revision 2.3.5.7.11.13.172007-12-23gea

added a question about possible installation problems

Revision 2.3.5.7.11.132007-12-02gea

addedd excellent faq about using tanks

Revision 2.3.5.7.112007-11-25gea

Info added about this FAQ and updated information on the TacOps mailing list

Revision 2.3.5.72007-11-25 

Marjor reorganzation done by Bernard Cousin.

Revision 2.3.52007-11-21 

Ok. Initial FAQ Done. Lots of minor clean up and waiting for comments at this point will be the next step

Revision 2.32007-11-20 

Keeping track of changes. Currently, it is good enough form to help some people so I'm putting a version number

Revision 22007-11-17 

Gazette PDF converted into txt files.

Abstract

This is a Faq for TacOps.

Please keep this faq update by sending any and all comments to Please let me if you are interested in mainting this FAQ.

The most updated version of this FAQ will be at http://mung.net/howto/TacOps.html.

The XML source file will be sent as requested to allow anyone intersted in editing this FAQ


Table of Contents

BEFORE YOU READ THIS FAQ
General Chapter
FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT TACOPS
THE MAJOR WANTS YOU TO HAVE FUN
Program Installation
What is the motives to design TacOps
CODE SECTION
TACOPS BATTLE BOOK
MISC SECTION
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
CHEAPSHOT SECTION
MAJOR H SECTION
EMAIL MAJOR H
RESOURCES SECTION
DO I NEED TO BUY ANOTHER COPY SECTION
:)
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS SECTION
Tacops usage chapter
NEWBIE SECTION
Automatically select next unit?
SHORTCUTS
LOS SECTION
THERMAL SECTION
UNIT FACING SECTION
SOP SECTION
UNITS SPLITTING DOESN WORK RIGHT
ELEVATION SECTION
WHY DIDNT MY UNIT FIRE SECTION
WHY DID MY UNIT FIRE AT SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD OF WHAT I WANTED?!?
SOUNDS
GAMEPLAY SECTION
AI Section
SUPRESSION SECTION
ELEVATION SECTION
HOW FAST DO MY UNITS MOVE?
HOW DO I GO IN REVERSE SECTION
HOW DO I PUT MY UNITS ON THE EDGE SO THEY CAN SEE OUT
SUPPRESION SECTION
MULTIPLAYER SECTION
CPX SECTION
MAPS SECTION
WADI
AI SECTION
Scenario Chapter
TEAM CAHOON
TEAM CRAIG
DEGOEY
TEAM FORCE FENWICK
TEAM GALLAGHER
TEAMFORCE HENSON
TASK FORCE KINCAID
TEAM KREMPP
TEAM MIZOKAMI
TEAM O'HARA SECTION
TEAMFORCE PETERJOHN
TEAM SPOSITO
EXIT SCENATION SECTION
Units and Unit Tactics Chapter
DIRECT FIRE TRP (DFTRP)
DIRECT FIRE SECTION
AIRCRAFT SECTION
SAM SECTION
STINGERS and SAMS SECTIONS
UAV SECTION
WHERE ARE THE A10s?
STINGER SECTION
STINGER SECTION
INFANTRY SECTION
SCOUT SECTION
SNIPER SECTION
TANKS SECTION
ATGM SECTION
DIRECT FIRE TRP SECTION
ARTILLERY SECTION
ATGM FIRE BUT DONT IMMEDIATELY IMPACT
PORTABLE and TRANSPORTABLE BOMBS SECTION
ENGINEER SECTION
ENTRENCHEHMENT SECTION
MINEFIELD SECTION
SMOKE SECTION
BMP SECTION
Misc. UNIT SECTION
TacOps Tactics
TacOps Tactics - Defense Strategy
TacOps Tactics - Offensive Strategy
STRATEGY SECTION
OPFOR SECTION
TIPS
A. How this faq was made

BEFORE YOU READ THIS FAQ

READ THE USER's GUIDE that MAJOR H has provided with the game. Read the whole thing, twice. I can not stress this enough.

General Chapter

FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT TACOPS

1. Does TacOps have a Mailing list? If so what is the name? If not how do I find out the latest about Tacops?
1.

Does TacOps have a Mailing list? If so what is the name? If not how do I find out the latest about Tacops?

The TacOps mailing is http://nxport.com/mailman/listinfo/. It is the best place to get your answers that this faq doesn't contain.

The other site is for up to date infomration is the Battlefront webpage where you can buy TacOps.

THE MAJOR WANTS YOU TO HAVE FUN

1. The manual says that you should give OPFOR some additional units to compensate for the AI. I was wondering just how many units is "some"? I know each scenario is different, but is it all, some, or none?
1.

The manual says that you should give OPFOR some additional units to compensate for the AI. I was wondering just how many units is "some"? I know each scenario is different, but is it all, some, or none?

Could be any of the above :). I think the key is how well are you doing against the AI and what kind of gaming experience do you want on a given night. If you have reached the point where you are consistently pummeling OPFOR or you feel like a tough game then add as many optional units as you dare. You should have a pretty good feel by now on what the significance will be of adding a tank platoon here, a mech company there. Add whatever you think will be fun - as you define fun.

Something that you can do to make most scenarios instantly harder is to not use instant resupply.

Program Installation

1. A customer just reported getting a "Error -5009" alert while trying to install the download purchase version of TacOps4. He also reported having this error while trying to reinstall the TacOps4 demo.
1.

A customer just reported getting a "Error -5009" alert while trying to install the download purchase version of TacOps4. He also reported having this error while trying to reinstall the TacOps4 demo.

An Internet search on "Error -5009" suggested the following three step fix.

  • Step 1: Locate the InstallShield folder on your hard drive. It can usually be found at the following location.

    C:\Program Files\Common Files\InstallShield.

    Then change the name of that folder to "InstallShieldOld". This will cause a new InstallShield folder to be created the next time that the TacOps installer is run.

  • Step 2: Then shut down and restart your computer.

  • Step 3: Then run the TacOps4 installer, which should be the file that you downloaded from Battlefront.com.

Please note that "InstallShield" is a standard Windows installation assistance program that has been produced by the InstallShield Company for many years. This program is just an installation support program, it has nothing to do with copy protection or eLicensing. The InstallShield Company has apparently inadvertently introduced incompatibilities between some older versions of its installer engine and some newer versions of its installer engine. It is likely that some software that the customer installed recently introduced a flawed version of the InstallShield program.

Best regards, Major H

MajorH at satx.rr.com

What is the motives to design TacOps

1. What is the motives to design TacOps?
1.

What is the motives to design TacOps?

A strong desire to not have an ordinary job *g*.

CODE SECTION

1. What language did you write TacOps in?
2. I cut my game designing teeth studying RED STAR/WHITE STAR...
3. I just wonder how you have time to do any new development when you make so many improvements to the old product.
1.

What language did you write TacOps in?

Mac version was done in C using Symantek Think C development System. Windows version was done for the Windows 3.1x environment in C using Microsoft Visual C/C++ v1.x development system. I am transitioning to Codewarrior C++ for Mac coding and Windows 95 and Microsoft Visual C++ v4.x for my future games.

2.

I cut my game designing teeth studying RED STAR/WHITE STAR...

Check the instructions for RED STAR/WHITE STAR - you will find a Lt Holdridge listed as a play tester *g* - my only game credit *g*.

3.

I just wonder how you have time to do any new development when you make so many improvements to the old product.

I don't consider TacOps to be an "old product" *g*. I don't subscribe to the practice of dumping a game on the market, selling it for six months, and then forgetting about it. I think games in the wargaming market have the potential for selling for a very long time if they are maintained. The real problem with keeping game titles available may be the current chain store practice of refusing to stock games the instant that they stop flying off the shelf. Perhaps game companies just need to adjust their distribution scheme so that an affordable way can be established to keep the games available longer for those with the interest to look for them - like with direct mail *g*.

TACOPS BATTLE BOOK

1. could you give a small list of each weapon? For instance, "LAV 25: A light armored recon vehicle, used to outflank the enemy on the sides....."
1.

could you give a small list of each weapon? For instance, "LAV 25: A light armored recon vehicle, used to outflank the enemy on the sides....."

Will be in the TacOps Battle Book [1] when it is published this summer. Production costs and falling street price for wargames kept us from including detailed material like this in the printed user guide that comes with the game. Lots of people ask for such detailed info but most are unwilling to pay for it *g*.

MISC SECTION

1. When was the ORIGINAL release of TacOps?
2. Will we ever see more than the 20 player limit on the retail version?
3. Can you tell me what TacOpsCav stands for?
4. I don't have a concept of 'Battalion' or 'company'. How many companies make up a battalion etc..
5. Speaking of acceptable losses, that is the one thing about TacOps that doesn't seem very credible. Would any commander, US or any other, actually consider exiting a battlefield with only 20% of their original force a victory? Wouldn't most commanders simply abort any mission that is obviously leading to such a great toll? ... these scenarios all seem like suicide missions for both sides.
6. Wouldn't most commanders simply abort any mission that is obviously leading to such a great toll?
1.

When was the ORIGINAL release of TacOps?

TacOps v0.0 for Macintosh was released by Arsenal Publishing in early 1994 (January, I think).

TacOps v1.x for Windows was released by Arsenal Publishing in early 1996 (March, I think). So we are now past the tenth anniversary of TacOps.

2.

Will we ever see more than the 20 player limit on the retail version?

Not unless I abandon the sale of military versions. So long as I am doing military work there needs to be some significant difference between the retail version and the military versions. Without a significant difference I could easily find myself forbidden to sell the retail version. The 20 player limit was the least obtrusive thing that I could come up with that I thought would stand up as a significant difference.

3.

Can you tell me what TacOpsCav stands for?

Officially "TacOpsCav" is just a product name and has no expanded meaning. However, most English speakers would interpret it as being an abbreviation for "Tactical Operations - Cavalry". The Armor School at Fort Knox (actually the 16th Cavalry Regiment) purchased an internal TacOps duplication and distribution license on behalf of the U.S. Army for a military version of "TacOps". The tankers wanted to add "Cav" to the product name for their edition of TacOps and I did not object, although I did point out to them that doing so would likely irritate the other branches of the U.S. Army. :)

4.

I don't have a concept of 'Battalion' or 'company'. How many companies make up a battalion etc..

The following is a rough approximation that is useful for most modern armies, but it is not absolute.

Team. As a crew served weapon team, can be 2 to 5 men working together to employ a crew served weapon. As part of a squad, can be 3 to 5 men armed with rifles and machine guns and light anti tank weapons.

Squad. Two or three teams make a squad. 9 to 15 men armed with rifles, machine guns, and light anti tank weapons. Commanded by a corporal or a sergeant.

Platoon. 3 or 4 infantry squads make a platoon. 3 to 5 vehicles make a platoon. Commanded by a sergeant or a lieutenant.

Company. 3 or 4 platoons make a company. 10 to 15 vehicles make a company. Companies often have additional heavy weapons like mortars, machine guns, and larger anti tank weapons. Commanded by a lieutenant, captain, or major.

Battalion. 3 to 5 companies make a battalion. Some companies may be infantry, some may be tanks. Battalions often have additional vehicles, more heavy weapons, headquarters troops, more communications, artillery maybe, etc. Commanded by a major or a lieutenant colonel. Can function for days or weeks as a largely independent unit.

Regiment (often called a Brigade). 2 to 5 battalions make a regiment. Some battalions may be infantry, some may be tanks, some may be artillery. Can function for weeks or months as a largely independent unit.

Division (sometimes small divisions are also called Brigades). 2 or more Regiments/Brigades make a division. Usually includes some of everything available to a given nationality. Can function indefinitely as a largely independent unit.

Corps. Several divisions. Only the largest of modern countries have more than a couple of Corps.

Army. Several Corps.

5.

Speaking of acceptable losses, that is the one thing about TacOps that doesn't seem very credible. Would any commander, US or any other, actually consider exiting a battlefield with only 20% of their original force a victory? Wouldn't most commanders simply abort any mission that is obviously leading to such a great toll? ... these scenarios all seem like suicide missions for both sides.

Depends on the situation. There are plenty of examples in WWII in the Pacific amphibious landings in which some US company sized units were down to 20% within 24 to 48 hours of getting off the boat. Japanese units in the Pacific often fought to a 100% casualty level without surrendering or backing off. The former Soviet Union did not sustain 25 million casualties in WWII by quitting every time they were attrited by 20 or 30 %.

As a game, TacOps needs to offer a "gaming experience" in order to be commercially successful. In order for a scenario to be a "game" both sides need to have a reasonable chance of winning. Still, in a situation (game wise or in the real world) in which either force can win, and the mission is paramount for both sides then casualties are likely to be heavy.

6.

Wouldn't most commanders simply abort any mission that is obviously leading to such a great toll?

In the real world, quitting an assigned combat mission is not generally a "simple" decision. Lets say you are the Bravo Company commander and your company is in the center of a battalion advance. Would you appreciate the Alpha or Charley Company commanders "simply" deciding to pull out of a fight due to heavy casualties thus leaving your flanks open and inviting the annihilation of your company? The same concept applies to battalion, brigades, divisions, etc.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

1. I insist you add 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' as an option.
1.

I insist you add 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' as an option.

I doubt that I will ever add 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'' as I still see no gaming point in them being present in a tactical game of engagements lasting only a few hours.

CHEAPSHOT SECTION

1. The units look like very thin paper counters in a board wargame. It's sort of hard to believe that these graphics would be offered in a game released in 1998.
1.

The units look like very thin paper counters in a board wargame. It's sort of hard to believe that these graphics would be offered in a game released in 1998.

I don't remember getting a memo from the game gestapo indicating that traditional square unit markers could not be used in computer games anymore after a certain date *g*. I think that traditional square or oval unit markers are more useful for communicating game relevant information in a crowded environment than photo realistic markers. I intend to continue using the traditional marker format in my stuff.

MAJOR H SECTION

1. what did you do in the Marines?
1.

what did you do in the Marines?

I was enlisted for four years. After commissioning I was an infantry officer for five years then I switched to intelligence where I stayed for eleven years.

EMAIL MAJOR H

1. I realize you can't answer all your mail personally.
1.

I realize you can't answer all your mail personally.

Sure I can - besides there isn't anyone else to do it *g*.

RESOURCES SECTION

1. What resources are out there for TacOps enthusiasts? I google'd but mostly got MODs for FPS and such.
1.

What resources are out there for TacOps enthusiasts? I google'd but mostly got MODs for FPS and such.

99% of the hits that you will get by searching on "TacOps" are for Infogrames' "Tactical Operations - Assault on Terror". That game was originally going to be released as "TacOps Assault on Terror" but in the end Infogrames reasonably agreed to change to "Tactical Operations" and to refrain from using "TacOps" in any materials that they had control over. Unfortunately the TO-AOT fans/users went ahead and shortened the title to "TacOps" anyway. Realistically there isn't much that I can do about the wrongful usage by the AOT fans. I do check the net periodically in hopes of finding someone out there who is identifiable and who has enough money to make it worthwhile to sue them. Same with the warez/piracy sites.

The most useful links for "the real" TacOps are below.

The TacOps forum at Battlefront.com ...

http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi

DO I NEED TO BUY ANOTHER COPY SECTION

1. I have a question about the TacOps license: My family has a "family" computer; I also have my own. Does the "family" computer qualify as the "second computer" mentioned in the license?
1.

I have a question about the TacOps license: My family has a "family" computer; I also have my own. Does the "family" computer qualify as the "second computer" mentioned in the license?

Yes - or third or fourth or however many you have. You may install TacOp4 on all computers in your home and even put a copy on your laptop and take it to work- without guilt. :) It doesn't seem right to me to try to force ordinary users into buying more than one copy for their own personal use in a multi computer household. I trust that most folks will not abuse the lack of copy protection in TacOps. I only ask that if your friends want a copy then they should buy their own.

:)

1. Have you ever considered consolidating questions by topic (e.g., it seems like there's a "when is PZE/Windoze/etc. due out?" questions in each issue.)
1.

Have you ever considered consolidating questions by topic (e.g., it seems like there's a "when is PZE/Windoze/etc. due out?" questions in each issue.)

Too much work. I just barely get the Gazette out once in a while with the current shotgun approach *grin*. Think of as more of a weekly digest of my better email than as a magazine/newsletter.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS SECTION

1. But what if ...
1.

But what if ...

Damn the "what ifs", full speed ahead! :)

Have Abstraction. Will travel.

Wire MajorH in San Antonio.

Tacops usage chapter

NEWBIE SECTION

1. what scenarios would people recommend I start with and then progress?
2. How does one use combined arms to mount an effective force?
3. I'm a new player and would like to learn the game in the most efficient manner.
4. I was wondering if there are some less difficult scenarios than TF Gallagher? I am not a grognard, but I really love the TacOps game system. I just want to work up to a scenario with so many units to worry about. Can you suggest which scenarios I should tackle first?
1.

what scenarios would people recommend I start with and then progress?

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS:

  • I find that defensive situations are a bit easier to start with. So are the smaller Team scenarios.

  • For selection.

    • The US Army is the easiest

    • The Marines need a bit more skill.

    • The Canadians are more challenging, (more limited anti-armor weapons.

You will find that there are parallel situations for all three forces. The Major tried to get similar sorts of names, but not always.

SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS.

My suggestion for a good starting scenario is

Team Sposito. It's a rear-guard action and short.

Team Meyers. A straight-forward defensive action.

Team O'Hara. A more challenging defensive action.

Team Hall. Armored attack. Can be a bit tricky to win, but helps train in overwatch techniques.

Team Hill. Combined arms, small. Be careful.

Team Cahoon. Combined arms. Larger, but with time pressure.

Avoid:

Team Krempp and its MC equivalent (Can't This pair is nearly impossible to win, because it was designed and balanced before improved positions were made stronger.

2.

How does one use combined arms to mount an effective force?

On the defensive, you want to arrange your weapons to cover approaches, but without making them visible from too many places. That way you don't get overwhelmed by return fire. Use missiles to strike at long range and tank guns in closer. Infantry needs to be in dense covering terrain (such as woods or towns).

On the attack, don't move too quickly. Make sure that you have long- ranged weapons in covering positions before crossing open areas. Also, make sure that when you appear, you do it in some force, instead of piecemeal (except perhaps for recon), since you want to have enough guys around to shoot back when your lead vehicle gets blown up.

Artillery is another item that needs to be used. Here it helps to have the accuracy built up.

3.

I'm a new player and would like to learn the game in the most efficient manner.

First do the tutorial. A twenty minute investment in following every step in the tutorial will make everything that follows easier and more fun. Next play U.S. scenarios that have 'Team' in the title or Canadian scenarios that have 'Combat Team' in the title. They have smaller forces in play and smaller maps. U.S. Army scenarios are usually significantly easier than similar USMC scenarios because the Marines have fewer long range anti armor weapons. U.S. Army and USMC scenarios are usually easier than similar Canadian scenarios because of the limited range of the Canadian ERYX ATGM. USMC scenarios where the Marines are using LAVs tend to be very difficult and tend to require very different and very daring tactics. The hardest scenario set of all is the Team Kelley series. A single U.S. Company vs an OPFOR Regiment .

4.

I was wondering if there are some less difficult scenarios than TF Gallagher? I am not a grognard, but I really love the TacOps game system. I just want to work up to a scenario with so many units to worry about. Can you suggest which scenarios I should tackle first?

Any scenario whose name starts with "Team". Team scenarios usually involve engagements where at least the US side is below battalion size. "Task Force" scenarios usually feature a US side of battalion size and above.

The following info might be helpful...

Map001 Basic Training Task Force Craig Task Force DeGoey Task Force Frolik Task Force Gallagher Task Force Gebhard Task Force Harper Task Force Henson Task Force Kincaid Task Force Low Task Force Stubblefield Team Savage Capture the Flag Army Capture the Flag Tanks Capture the Flag USMC Map002 Team McMains Team Meyers Map003 Team Slocomb Team Sposito Map004 Team Hill Team Murray Map005 Team Hall Map006 Team Krempp Map007 Team Cahoon Team Minamora Map008 Task Force Pucci Task Force Waring Map009 Team Ostle Team O'Hara Map 100

Freebie map for use with custom scenario templates. Not currently used by any regular scenario.

The following scenarios allow the user to choose any map.

Custom Scenario Canada Custom Scenario US Army Custom Scenario USMC

Automatically select next unit?

1. I recall there was a way to sequentially select units in TacOps (by pushing a key). Do I remember right and if I do, which one is it?
1.

I recall there was a way to sequentially select units in TacOps (by pushing a key). Do I remember right and if I do, which one is it?

There is no such feature in TacOps.[1]

SHORTCUTS

1. Is there anyway to paste to a lot of units at once, like when you have multiple units at the same place, entering the board?
1.

Is there anyway to paste to a lot of units at once, like when you have multiple units at the same place, entering the board?

Yes. Say you have already given orders to a leading unit and you have its orders window open. Do Copy and then close that unit's orders window. Drag a selection rectangle around (lasso) the units that you want to paste to - they will be highligted. Do Paste. The orders in memory will be pasted into every "selected" unit. You can also select multiple units for pasting by holding down the shift key and clicking on the units you want to select.

Copy, paste, and group selection now work in TacOps pretty much the same way as they do in most "paint" programs and on the Mac destop.

LOS SECTION

1. If a unit is spotted by a helicopter or UAV, or I guess any friendly unit, does that raise the chance that it will be spotted by all other friendly units as well?
1.

If a unit is spotted by a helicopter or UAV, or I guess any friendly unit, does that raise the chance that it will be spotted by all other friendly units as well?

Yes. An enemy unit that is spotted by one friendly unit is spotted by all friendly units of the same color. However, that does not mean that every friendly unit that is capable of shooting at that enemy unit will choose to do so. Spotting is very transient and is linked as much to target activity as it is to visibility and line of sight (assuming a clear line of sight). In other words spotting can often be lost if a target unit stops moving and shooting. That is why firefights sometimes seem to fade away even though all the participating units are in the same stationary positions and then ramp up again when somebody moves.

1. If I have a counter with 4 tanks, that counter makes one spotting check for all four tanks, correct?
2. And if one tank fires at a target, that counts towards raising the chance of a hit for the remaining 3 tanks in the counter, correct?
3. ... regarding spotting ... are vehicles more/less visible when on different terrain types, or are only terrain features taken into account here?
4. In the limited number of scenarios I've played, I've noticed that troops at level one tend to treat ground at level zero as 'out of view'. Is this the sim, or just my inexperience? If not it tends to give the lie to 'Take the High Ground'!
5. One problem (bug perhaps Major?) is that if an OPFOR unit doesn't actually have smoke ON it, it will shoot at the helo's even if they don't really have an LOS. For example, I dropped smoke all across the "southern" side of the base and left the northern end open. Although the ZU's and SA-16 units had no LOS to the south, they still managed to take out my entire landing force. Be warned!
6. I don't understand how to pin the LOS check to a unit. When you click on a unit to select it, the Unit Orders Window is displayed and the Map Menu containing the LOS check is "grayed out" making it inaccessible. What am I doing wrong?
7. About LOS, how far can units see out of woods? I've had units that are right on the edge of a wood and yet they could still not see out of it and when I used the LOS tool, it showed a blocked LOS from the unit to the area outside of the woods.
8. LOS and Aircraft?
9. I placed a ZSU-23 on a terrain object {building} and I later fired at it from a NOE position behind a group of trees. The LOS checker found it to be out of LOS as did the Thermal LOS check.
10. On a related note, it would be nice if a single click on a unit concurrent with a depressed "L" key would initiate a LOS check for a particular unit. I have gotten burned by missing a unit's center pixel, and then wrongly believing that that unit could cover a part of my operation. I know that I should be more careful, but when dealing with so many unit markers over a period of 120 scale minutes such a feature would be neat.
11. Highlight all places on the map that are visible from that unit.
1.

If I have a counter with 4 tanks, that counter makes one spotting check for all four tanks, correct?

Yes and no. There is a gross spotting check that only happens once per friendly marker per 15 second pulse. This check has no random factors so there is no reason to repeat it for each strength point in the marker. If the gross spotting check reveals an enemy unit then there is a targeting or acquisition check that is done by each strength point in the marker.

2.

And if one tank fires at a target, that counts towards raising the chance of a hit for the remaining 3 tanks in the counter, correct?

Yes but not until the next 15 second pulse.

3.

... regarding spotting ... are vehicles more/less visible when on different terrain types, or are only terrain features taken into account here?

The rougher the terrain the less visible are all units (more relevant before they start moving or firing, less relevant after) - also harder to spot, and harder to hit by direct fire. Woods or town adds an additional reduction to that provided by any present roughness level.

4.

In the limited number of scenarios I've played, I've noticed that troops at level one tend to treat ground at level zero as 'out of view'. Is this the sim, or just my inexperience? If not it tends to give the lie to 'Take the High Ground'!

The outermost 100 meters of high ground, woods, and town terrain (ten pixels plus or minus a pixel or two) provide a dual spotting zone. In the case of high ground it relates to the ability to see from the high ground down to low ground. In the case of woods and town terrain it relates to seeing out. From the first or outermost 100 meters above the contour line a unit can see both all otherwise unblocked high ground and all otherwise unblocked low ground. If the unit backs away from this 100 meter buffer, then it will only be able to see units that are on high ground. If it crosses the contour - headed downhill - then it will only be able to see units that are either on low ground or that are themselves right next to a high ground contour. In the outermost 100 meters of woods and town terrain you can see and shoot out of the woods and town but your visibility to the enemy is greatly reduced (until you fire). For visualizing LOS, you need to key on the center point of the unit marker. If you are "in the zone" and if you are using one of the larger marker sets, a lot of the unit marker will appear to actually be out of the woods. Again, it is where the center point of the marker is that is important for LOS.

5.

One problem (bug perhaps Major?) is that if an OPFOR unit doesn't actually have smoke ON it, it will shoot at the helo's even if they don't really have an LOS. For example, I dropped smoke all across the "southern" side of the base and left the northern end open. Although the ZU's and SA-16 units had no LOS to the south, they still managed to take out my entire landing force. Be warned!

Not a bug. (1) From point A to point B, LOS between a ground unit and a helicopter can be different from what it would be from a ground unit to a ground unit - depends on the altitude of the helicopter. The LOS tool only shows ground to ground LOS unless you pin it as originating from a helo unit. (2) Some weapons have thermal sights (ie. the SA-16 SAM) which see through smoke.

6.

I don't understand how to pin the LOS check to a unit. When you click on a unit to select it, the Unit Orders Window is displayed and the Map Menu containing the LOS check is "grayed out" making it inaccessible. What am I doing wrong?

To "pin" the line of sight tool to a specific unit you must select the unit in a way that does not trigger the opening of its unit orders window. You can do this two ways.

Hold down the shift key as you click on a unit marker - this will "highlight" the unit marker without opening its orders window. Now select the LOS tool menu item.

Or ...

Click on empty map some distance away from the marker, hold down the left mouse button, and "drag out" a selection rectangle that includes the unit - this will "highlight" the unit marker rather than open its orders window. Now select the LOS tool menu item.

7.

About LOS, how far can units see out of woods? I've had units that are right on the edge of a wood and yet they could still not see out of it and when I used the LOS tool, it showed a blocked LOS from the unit to the area outside of the woods.

The outermost 100 meters of woods and town terrain (ten pixels plus or minus a pixel or two) provide the dual spotting zone - i.e. you can see and shoot out of the woods and town but your visibility to the enemy is greatly reduced (until you fire). For visualizing LOS, you need to key on the center point of the unit marker. If you are "in the zone" and if you are using one of the larger marker sets, a lot of the unit marker will appear to actually be out of the woods.

A similar effect occurs in the outermost 100 meters of high ground terrain. In the first 100 meters above the contour line a unit can see both all otherwise unblocked high ground and all otherwise unblocked low ground. If the unit backs away from this 100 meter buffer, then it will only be able to see units that are on high ground. If it crosses the contour - headed downhill then it will only be able to see units that are either on low ground or that are themselves right next to a high ground contour.

Again, it is where the center point of the marker is that is important for LOS. After a few games you will get used to the dual zones and you will find that you don't need to use the LOS tool so much to confirm things.

8.

LOS and Aircraft?

Rule: A clear LOS from any anti air weapon is assumed to exist to a fixed wing airstrike or to a helicopter at medium altitude unless there is woods or town terrain or a smoke cloud within 125 meters of the SAM and that terrain or smoke cloud is directly between the SAM and the fixed wing or helo target.

9.

I placed a ZSU-23 on a terrain object {building} and I later fired at it from a NOE position behind a group of trees. The LOS checker found it to be out of LOS as did the Thermal LOS check.

Not a bug. The helo that was doing the shooting was positioned over a cell of town terrain with the town terrain being at elevation 0. The helo was at NOE but NOE when over woods and town is one elevation level higher than that terrain. For LOS purposes the helo was actually at elevation 1. When you use the LOS tool in the normal fashion it doesn't know that you are clicking on a helo. It assumes that you are checking ground level to ground level. Therefore you got a result of blocked line of sight. Try selecting the helo unit before triggering the LOS check. This will pin the LOS check to the helo and you will get a true reading.

10.

On a related note, it would be nice if a single click on a unit concurrent with a depressed "L" key would initiate a LOS check for a particular unit. I have gotten burned by missing a unit's center pixel, and then wrongly believing that that unit could cover a part of my operation. I know that I should be more careful, but when dealing with so many unit markers over a period of 120 scale minutes such a feature would be neat.

Hold down the shift key with your left hand, click on a unit with your right hand - the unit will be selected/highlighted - release the shift key, release the mouse button and do a Command L you will get a LOS cross hair that is pinned as originating from the exact center point of the selected unit.

11.

Highlight all places on the map that are visible from that unit.

The last time I tried to code this, the number crunching involved slowed the function so much on most Macs that I didn't feel anyone would use the feature more than once *grin*.[2]

THERMAL SECTION

1. I tried the set thermals to 0000, but it gives me the message saying that thermal range can't be less than normal range.
1.

I tried the set thermals to 0000, but it gives me the message saying that thermal range can't be less than normal range.

You can not set thermals to be lower than whatever the current 'eyesight' setting is. Try first reducing the eyesight setting and then change the thermal setting.

UNIT FACING SECTION

1. I think that entrenched or defiladed units should automatically face a unit which is attacking them, or at least this should be an option in SOP orders or preferences.
1.

I think that entrenched or defiladed units should automatically face a unit which is attacking them, or at least this should be an option in SOP orders or preferences.

Automatic facing would be a little beyond the scale of TacOps - a TacOps turn only represents 60 seconds of real time. Allowing the computer to decide facing would also probably bother a lot of players who might not appreciate an armored unit repositioning its front against fire from a dismounted rifle team that occurred early in a combat phase and thereby exposing its flank to the fire of a larger antiarmor weapon that occurred later in a combat phase.

SOP SECTION

1. By the same token I took your advice and set the SOP for most of my units to back up 200m when they receive enemy fire. The problem is every time they get attacked they don't back up. When I check the SOP the button to back up is not highlighted anymore.
1.

By the same token I took your advice and set the SOP for most of my units to back up 200m when they receive enemy fire. The problem is every time they get attacked they don't back up. When I check the SOP the button to back up is not highlighted anymore.

They should begin to move back right after they are fired on but they may not cover very much ground before the 60 second turn is over. Also, whenever a unit executes an SOP order, that SOP setting is cleared so it would be proper for the buttons to be unchecked the next time you look at them if the unit did start to execute an SOP order.

UNITS SPLITTING DOESN WORK RIGHT

1. This still bothers me and it has never been reported. When splitting APCs with infantry loaded, all the infantry is off-loaded. I feel this is incorrect. If the intent is to split two or three APCs down to individual vehicles, the result should not be to unload infantry contained within the APCs. Does this happen in the Mac version? If it does, it should be corrected there also.
1.

This still bothers me and it has never been reported. When splitting APCs with infantry loaded, all the infantry is off-loaded. I feel this is incorrect. If the intent is to split two or three APCs down to individual vehicles, the result should not be to unload infantry contained within the APCs. Does this happen in the Mac version? If it does, it should be corrected there also.

This is correct program behavior. The program does not really know what is loaded in each APC. It only knows the totals of the cargo units being carried by the marker. I won't bore you with all the difficulties involved with doing automatic splitting, but I'll give you a couple of typical examples of major problems.

Say you have an AAV marker that represents 11 vehicles. Embarked in the AAV marker are 9hrifle squads, 6 machine gun teams, 8 Javelin teams, 4 60mm mortars, and 2 stingers. You split off one unit. How can the computer automatically figure out what part of the total load you want to be in the split off AAV?

Now, assume that the computer did do some sort of automatic distribution of troops when you split a marker. In the above situation you would likely be very interested in which of the new markers had the javelins or some other weapon. You would probably feel compelled to open every marker to reassure yourself about what was in what.

Now assume that you don't like the computer's division. Now you are in a situation of having to unload all the markers, do dozens and dozens of splits, joins and reloads to get exactly the mix and loading that you want.

The current approach provides the least number of mouse clicks to get back to where you want to be.

ELEVATION SECTION

1. .. as bad as having the current pancake elevation model for terrain. Major H, PLEASE fix this.
2. LOS/elevation - right now the way TacOps handles elevation makes it pretty useless for taking advantage of high ground, etc.
3. Is there a way to get elevation data of different points on the map? It would be helpful to be able to point the mouse and get elevation data.
1.

.. as bad as having the current pancake elevation model for terrain. Major H, PLEASE fix this.

And the arrows just keep falling .... The pancake terrain with a100 meter dual visibility zone at the contour was a gaming generalization that was critically required in order for TacOps to work at a reasonable speed on older Macs. With the demise of the MacPlus and the Mac Classic, I can now move to a more sophisticated terrain model for Panzers East and TacOps II. However and harumph, I will not be "fixing" it, because I don't consider the pancake terrain representation to be broken :). It was an elegant solution to a problem that fortunately does not exist anymore and it works the way I intended it to work.

2.

LOS/elevation - right now the way TacOps handles elevation makes it pretty useless for taking advantage of high ground, etc.

Not entirely - the basic tactical concepts are supported. The current TacOps approach demonstrates the primary concepts of high ground - i.e. if you are on the edge or forward slope of high ground then you can see and shoot at targets that are on both low ground and high ground. If you back up too far "upslope" then you can't see the low ground anymore. Etc.

3.

Is there a way to get elevation data of different points on the map? It would be helpful to be able to point the mouse and get elevation data.

The line of sight tool is multipurpose. Select the Map/Line of Sight Check menu item and then drag the cursor around the map. If you look at the text line at the bottom of the screen you will see displayed the range from the point of origination to the cursor, the elevation of the terrain under the cursor, the type of terrain under the cursor, and the UTM coordinates of the point under the cursor.

WHY DIDNT MY UNIT FIRE SECTION

1. Why don't less capable weapons open up on what's normally too tough a target?
2. I believe I've read several messages from you saying that all things considered, when a moving vehicle meets a stationary vehicle that is hidden, the stationary vehicle will more often get the first shots in, and maybe even a 'surprise' pulse of shots. I've found this to be very untrue. In city or forest fighting, I've often had my units, armor and infantry, set to 500 meters/ 200 meters, and the OPFOR units that move into them almost always, I would say at least 80% of the time, get first shots. I almost never get surprise.
3. Also, there are times when my units will just sit there and get ruined without firing back...Any special reasons...
4. I have attached 3 saved game files. The LAV units at 030015 refuse to fire on the T80U at 024007.
5. Even when the T62 has clear LOS to the front of a M1A1 it won't fire (The OPFOR unit was not suppressed at the time and was not moving). I can see from the statistics that the 115mm+ DU gun on the T62M+ cannot penetrate at point blank range with a shot at the front or flank of the M1A1. It only has a chance if the M1A1 exposes its rear. But why won't it even attempt to fire? It seems that it could still knock of a track or damage the sights.
6. Is there a reason why SAM16's won't engage UAV's with missiles? I fly them right over, and they shoot at them with their machine guns! Does the UAV not emit enough heat to be detected? What is the best way to get rid of the pesky things as the OPFOR player?
1.

Why don't less capable weapons open up on what's normally too tough a target?

Because when I coded TacOps, I felt that doing so would produce a bad simulation and a bad game full of opportunities for players to use unrealistic tricks. I did not feel at the time that I could come up with automatic target selection routines that would generally make the best decision about what targets a unit should choose to engage. Consider the programming challenges involved in arbitrating what is the best target for a unit at any given moment. If units just fired at whatever was in front of them, regardless of their ability to hurt the target then you would see problems and tricks like the ones that follow. All one would have to do to protect a valuable unit would be to always put a less valuable unit in front of it. In a similar fashion one could protect a weakly armored unit by always putting a super heavy unit in front of it.

2.

I believe I've read several messages from you saying that all things considered, when a moving vehicle meets a stationary vehicle that is hidden, the stationary vehicle will more often get the first shots in, and maybe even a 'surprise' pulse of shots. I've found this to be very untrue. In city or forest fighting, I've often had my units, armor and infantry, set to 500 meters/ 200 meters, and the OPFOR units that move into them almost always, I would say at least 80% of the time, get first shots. I almost never get surprise.

It should work as I described for hidden, unspotted units. I just did several experiments with hidden M1 tanks in the edge of a wood (visible at 400m prior to firing) set to fire at 500 meters vs approaching T80s and I got first shots and "pulse of fire" surprise awards every time. I got a second pulse of surprise fire a couple of times. I think the problem is that you are setting your engagement limit too low. You especially might try not setting your vehicle engagement ranges so low. Vehicles are going to usually be spotted at 400 meters no matter what. An unsuppressed enemy vehicle can cover about 127 meters in 15 seconds (one movement pulse) in clear terrain and about 165 meters if on a road. If unsuppressed enemy vehicles are approaching your position in clear or road terrain, it is very possible that they might cover your 100 meter buffer between 500 and 400 meters in less than one 15 second pulse. In other words they might pass completely through such a small buffer and be close enough to where they can spot you before some or all of your guys get a chance to fire. Once one of your units is spotted, it is a toss up who gets to fire first and a unit that is spotted before it fires will seldom be awarded surprise fire.

3.

Also, there are times when my units will just sit there and get ruined without firing back...Any special reasons...

Maybe a unit has no weapons capable of killing the targets it can see at the instant. Maybe the targets are out of range. Maybe a unit is suppressed. Spotting and firing are not guaranteed to always happen even when units seem to be in plain sight of one another. Maybe those of your guys with a technical line of sight to targets momentarily stopped looking for some reason - like being hosed by enemy weapons or from the effects of a recent arty impact. Conceptually, the targets may have momentarily rolled through some irregularity in the terrain that caused them to disappear. Real terrain is not as regular as what a computer game map must be limited to - TacOps simulates the transient effects of minor, localized, irregular terrain by introducing random "holes" into the spotting probabilities. In TacOps there is always some chance that units will fail to spot or will fail to be spotted. It is entirely possible that a unit that was spotted and even fired on fifteen seconds ago, might not be spotted for firing purposes in the very next fifteen seconds, and even if it were respotted for firing purposes it is possible that no one would choose to shoot at it. Spotting that leads to a direct fire resolution by your units is not guaranteed in TacOps, regardless of what you as the player can see on the screen. What you see on thex screen at any given instant is generally the sum of all the views of all your units - a kind of slow frame rate movie. It does not indicate that all your units can see what you see. As a general rule, the more of your units that are present in a given isolated area, the less likely you are to see units blinking in and out of what seems to be plain sight. If you only have one or two squads in an area, you are likely to see a lot of enemy unit markers winking in and out of sight.

4.

I have attached 3 saved game files. The LAV units at 030015 refuse to fire on the T80U at 024007.

The LAVs in questions are LAV25s. Their strongest weapon is a 25mm chain gun. The chain gun is a kinetic energy weapon and has a maximum armor penetration capability of 70mm. The T80U tank has the following armor protection against kinetic energy weapons: front 500mm, side 185mm, rear 100mm. The chain gun can not penetrate/hurt the T80U so the LAVs do not fire.

5.

Even when the T62 has clear LOS to the front of a M1A1 it won't fire (The OPFOR unit was not suppressed at the time and was not moving). I can see from the statistics that the 115mm+ DU gun on the T62M+ cannot penetrate at point blank range with a shot at the front or flank of the M1A1. It only has a chance if the M1A1 exposes its rear. But why won't it even attempt to fire? It seems that it could still knock of a track or damage the sights.

In the current TacOps game engine, anti tank weapons do not fire at armored targets unless they have some chance of killing the target's vs it front, side, or rear armor - they do not attempt "track shots". I am dubious that very many tankers would expose themselves to almost certain death just to try to immobilize an enemy tank that is otherwise immune to their weapons.

6.

Is there a reason why SAM16's won't engage UAV's with missiles? I fly them right over, and they shoot at them with their machine guns! Does the UAV not emit enough heat to be detected? What is the best way to get rid of the pesky things as the OPFOR player?

In TacOps, SAMs will not engage UAVs. That is my current info - source was a reservist Stinger gunner.

WHY DID MY UNIT FIRE AT SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD OF WHAT I WANTED?!?

1. How do I tell units what to shoot and what not to shoot?
2. Further, is there anyway that you can keep the units from resetting their ranges? It seems that once I set the Abrams units to 2-2.5K initial ranges, the units reset it once the battle gets rolling, i.e. return to the unit and the range is reset to max.
3. I'm playing a little skirmish right now (Team Hill against Chris Scott) and my ATGM team went after some Bradleys when I chose them to go after the M1's.
4. Even if I didn't choose to prioritize the Abrams, shouldn't they be a bigger priority than the M3's?
1.

How do I tell units what to shoot and what not to shoot?

You might find that you could accomplish a lot of your specific targeting desires if study the subtleties of the hard and soft targeting priorities already allowed in the game. Setting a hard order, direct fire target reference point with a very tight radius is often extremely useful. See the User's Guide, pages 37 to 41

2.

Further, is there anyway that you can keep the units from resetting their ranges? It seems that once I set the Abrams units to 2-2.5K initial ranges, the units reset it once the battle gets rolling, i.e. return to the unit and the range is reset to max.

You can use the option key and the "Set DF TRP" button to set a hard priority target reference point that is centered on a unit. Hold down the option key as you click on the "Set DF TRP" button, when you get the crosshair cursor click on the center of a unit, then when the range limit window comes up enter 2500. Obviously this tends to work only for stationary units as a moving unit will rapidly move away from the DF TRP.

3.

I'm playing a little skirmish right now (Team Hill against Chris Scott) and my ATGM team went after some Bradleys when I chose them to go after the M1's.

Sounds like you gave them a "soft priority" order (yellow light). Hold down the option key as you give a priority order to give a "hard priority" order (red light).

4.

Even if I didn't choose to prioritize the Abrams, shouldn't they be a bigger priority than the M3's?

In TacOps, a unit will generally choose to shoot at the target that presents the biggest threat to it at the instant. Natural self defense/survival priorities do not always agree with what the player (who is out of harm's way *g*) would prefer. In order to override this, you must give "hard priority orders".

SOUNDS

1. Some of the sounds [in TacOps] do not seem like the sounds that would actually be heard in a real battle.
1.

Some of the sounds [in TacOps] do not seem like the sounds that would actually be heard in a real battle.

I think I know what you mean but I suspect that what you are really asking for is not more realistic sounds but rather sounds that are more like those heard on TV and in movies. I suspect you would not like the sounds that are heard in a real battle. Weapons and explosions in real life do not sound anything like they sound in movies and on TV. In general, real life weapon sounds are very short "pops", "thumps", and "cracks" and volume wise they are very uninspiring unless you are personally firing a weapon or you are within a few meters of an explosion - in the later two cases you fairly quickly go temporarily deaf and you don't really hear anything again for hours except a high pitched whistle or a sort of a tinny echo of what is going on around you *g*. Early in development, all the sounds in TacOps were perfectly realistic. The first playtesters all reported them to be "extremely boring" so I went in with some sound tools and I jazzed them up a bit - altered, amplified, echoed, etc. - until most of the playtesters were satisfied but not so far that I would be embarrassed with military professionals.

GAMEPLAY SECTION

1. I would like to be able to mass set firing ranges for all units or all units of a particular type (e.g. the ability to set all my M1A1's to 2000 meters in one button click). Copying and pasting ranges would be nice too.
2. In this last run through my M-60's [machine guns] refused to fire at specifically targeted units from their overwatch position around the 023008 grid position. They were targeted on a BTR in a improved position at 024018. This situation has occurred more than once, and it is bloody frustrating.
3. I have noticed during battle, I know I kill the enemy (or he kills me) but we keep shooting at each other until the end of the round before the unit exits. does the game check to see if after being shot, killed or not killed, before returning fire?
4. One way I have noticed this is my sniper group only has 1 person in it but shows more than one skull face while getting shot.
5. I've heard that the game is being used as a training aid in various armed forces. This would appear to indicate to me that it has a high degree of realism. Opinions?
6. ... TacOps is turn based ...
7. Can you change the map scale now (i.e., zoom in and out)?
8. It is kinda frustrating to those of us who know the real capabilities of the weapons being used in the game are not being accurately portrayed, If the were this game would provide an extremely valuable training tool for us small unit leaders trying to improve our tactical skills to stay alive on the modern battle field.
9. It is the opinion of myself as well as a small group of players that the kill ratio is unrealistic.
10. How do I unload one unit from an APC without unloading all of the units? I want to drop off a mortar crew, but if I unload it drops off everyone.
11. For that matter, how do I load all but the mortar back into the APC?
12. TacOps _is_ a squad level game, isn't it?
13. I noticed in Team Hall, during the setup phase, the OPFOR has many entrenchment icons. The program won't let me end the setup phase unless I place all the entrenchments. Is there a way for me to place only a portion, and discard the rest?
14. I thought (as per the rulebook) that the "Team" scenarios were all Army and that the "Task Force" scenarios were USMC.
15. I have taken part in several Warfighter exercises and have always wondered how the software was developed. How would you rate your game on realism?
16. IT WOULD BE COOL, IF I COULD HAVE ALIAS FOR EACH ID
17. I had two Abrams with vastly different amounts of ammo left. By simply joining them on one turn and unjoining them on the next, the ammo was equally distributed. ... I don't know how realistic this is. ...Is there any way to keep track of individual units after they have become joined so that this sort of redistribution doesn't take place?
18. Is a large unit more visible that a small one, all things being equal?
19. I find a bit disturbing to see units considerably larger on the map than the one pixel that serves a reference for visibility, protection, etc. This becomes even more surprising when a unit can hold a single Bradley or 15 M1A1.
20. ... how can you tell which way an enemy unit is facing ?
21. ...I've seen BMPs & M2s firing infantry weapons (5.56 mm) at targets. I assume that this is the on board infantry using the firing ports, but this is happening when there is no infantry on board.
22. is there any penalty to changing facing while under fire? ... I notice that the AI often doesn't do this, especially with units in emplacements
23. when multiple units are 'joined' and then one is completely killed off, how is the 'postmortum' ammunition distributed? If two Javelin teams with two missiles each 'join', then one team is completely eliminated, does the surviving team have two or four missiles?
24. Is there going to be a way to replay (or set a speed option) for the combat phase.
25. Game mechanics are astonishingly realistic. One rare exception is the two player, face-to-face game in which spotted units are displayed when neither player is giving orders. In my experience, players who see that they have been spotted are given an unrealistic cue about the presence of enemy forces. Obviously spotted units must be displayed during combat, but leaving them up between moves invites players to deduce enemy positions unrealistically.
26. I can set maximum firing range for a unit just fine. However, once it fires, this range is always increased to the maximum limit ...Why was it changed from the 0.0 version, which left the setting fixed unless the unit was fired on?
27. It appears that engagement range for units goes to max automatically when a unit is fired upon? If so, does that imply that any unit fired upon will return fire?
28. This last game, I gave orders to a SAM unit to make a long trek through the mountains, along a narrow shoreline along a river (being careful not to order it to touch the river itself) and out into open territory where it would have a better field of fire. I had forgotten all about it but 15 turns later I was expecting to see it in the clearing. Instead it was still by the river with zero orders. It was never seen or attacked at any time. What could have caused it to stop?
1.

I would like to be able to mass set firing ranges for all units or all units of a particular type (e.g. the ability to set all my M1A1's to 2000 meters in one button click). Copying and pasting ranges would be nice too.

Select a group of unit markers by dragging out a selection rectangle and or by "shift + click" on each desired marker. Then select the "Orders/Set Engagement Range" menu item. Enter the desired range and close the window. The range setting will be applied to only the selected markers.

2.

In this last run through my M-60's [machine guns] refused to fire at specifically targeted units from their overwatch position around the 023008 grid position. They were targeted on a BTR in a improved position at 024018. This situation has occurred more than once, and it is bloody frustrating.

This results from an abstraction currently used in TacOps to prevent units from firing on and wasting ammo on targets that can not be harmed. M60 machine guns probably can't hurt an entrenched BTR from the front due to the combat results tables, so in TacOps they don't fire at all. A game mechanism for allowing units to be able to optionally lay down suppressive fire or demonstration fire or searching fire is something that I continue to work on. Everyone should consider though that once I am able to implement this, you are just as likely to be on the receiving end of such fire as you are to be inflicting it *g* - after the change is made it may well turn out that in many if not most small arms firefights the end result will effectively be much like what the game engine portrays now. There will likely be at least one area of increased realism after the change - more firefights will be decided by one side simply running out of ammo. Obviously the side that is most likely to run out of ammo first will the side that chooses to frequently fire at area targets and or poorly spotted units.

3.

I have noticed during battle, I know I kill the enemy (or he kills me) but we keep shooting at each other until the end of the round before the unit exits. does the game check to see if after being shot, killed or not killed, before returning fire?

A one minute turn is divided into four direct fire pulses. Each pulse represents fifteen seconds of combat action. Although the game displays the fire pulse as if the markers are shooting consecutively (mainly so that the player can get a better idea of what is happening), the concept of the game logic is that the fire is actually taking place more or less simultaneously. Thus 'dead' units sometimes appear to continue firing briefly and it sometimes happens that two units kill each other in the same fire pulse. All 'dead' units are cleared at the end of each fifteen second pulse - a 'dead' unit will never be carried forward into the next fifteen second pulse.

4.

One way I have noticed this is my sniper group only has 1 person in it but shows more than one skull face while getting shot.

A unit can receive multiple 'killing hits' in a given fifteen second fire pulse.

5.

I've heard that the game is being used as a training aid in various armed forces. This would appear to indicate to me that it has a high degree of realism. Opinions?

TacOps has gotten good marks for realism except from some folks who are big fans of morale and restrictive command and control gaming concepts. As for the military users ... TacOps has had quite a few military buyers and continues to be of some interest in the military market due to its ability to work well on older computers. The New Zealand Army contracted in December 97 for an internal distribution license that will permit them to copy and issue TacOps Classic Edition v2.0.0 to every regular and reserve member of their Army. The US Marine Corps is supposedly in the process of contracting for a similar license (I'll believe it when I see the check *g*). Other militaries are currently evaluating the utility of such a license. Some schools and units in the Canadian Army, Australian Army, US Army, and US Marine Corps have used various earlier versions of TacOps in training courses for NCOs and junior officers to illustrate tactical principles and situations and to stimulate classroom discussion in tactical seminars. A US Army intelligence training course for junior officers used an earlier version to illustrate the build up of forces that would occur in a typical Soviet style, Motorized Rifle Regiment march to contact versus a mobile defense. A US Marine Corps infantry regiment has used TacOps to administer map exercises. The commander of a US Army armored battalion in Korea used an earlier version of TacOps in monthly training sessions for his NCOs and junior officers to illustrate tactical situations and to promote discussions on tactical principles and tactical problem solving. One or two Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) units have used TacOps to introduce high school students to tactical principles. A Canadian training mission to Jamaica recently used a version of TacOps to umpire a two or three day map exercise for junior officers/cadets. A US Army National Guard training unit has used a version to administer staff exercises for Reserve mech infantry battalions.

6.

... TacOps is turn based ...

That needs a bit of qualification *g*. When I hear 'turn based', I think of the traditional 'I go you go' system of board games. TacOps does not work that way. TacOps used (and TacOps98 will use) a modified turn based system. The game advances in one minute turns but movement and combat occur simultaneously for both players as does the giving of orders to the unit markers. The game pauses each minute to allow both players to enter unit movement orders and to fiddle with things like engagement ranges, priority of fires, call for air or arty support, etc. Once both players have finished their orders, the game runs one combat turn representing one minute. The units of both sides then move and fight simultaneously under computer control for one minute.

7.

Can you change the map scale now (i.e., zoom in and out)?

No.

8.

It is kinda frustrating to those of us who know the real capabilities of the weapons being used in the game are not being accurately portrayed, If the were this game would provide an extremely valuable training tool for us small unit leaders trying to improve our tactical skills to stay alive on the modern battle field.

I think the weapons that you have mentioned are quite accurately portrayed. You may be missing the real lesson *g* which is that under combat conditions, shooting doesn't always mean hitting and hitting doesn't always mean killing. A lot of good troops have died over the years because they wrongly assumed that an impressive explosion on a target meant that the target was dead.

9.

It is the opinion of myself as well as a small group of players that the kill ratio is unrealistic.

The kill ratio in TacOps may be unrealistic for the calm conditions of a garrison training range. I think it is reasonably realistic for combat conditions where gunners are tired and scared, where ammo and equipment has been bounced around for hours or days with little opportunity for care, cleaning, or boresighting, and where targets are not cooperative.

10.

How do I unload one unit from an APC without unloading all of the units? I want to drop off a mortar crew, but if I unload it drops off everyone.

You can not unload just one unit.

11.

For that matter, how do I load all but the mortar back into the APC?

During an orders phase, use the instant load button (rather than the delayed load button) in the Unit Orders Window.

12.

TacOps _is_ a squad level game, isn't it?

Not from my design perspective. In order for me to truthfully claim that the game was a squad level game, the combat results and game flow would need to be accurate down to each firing of one weapon and down to one scale second of time. In order for this to be true I would need to address (i.e. reduce averaging) many more combat and situational variables. For example, the facing and individual situation of every man in an infantry marker would need to be considered, the hull and turret facing of each individual vehicle in a multi vehicle marker would need to be addressed, artillery support in the game would need to be procedure oriented instead of effect oriented. These things would potentially force hundreds more mouse clicks on the user per orders phase. My design goal for TacOps was for the combat and movement results to be reasonably realistic at the Company/Platoon marker level when such results are averaged over a few turns (i.e. several scale minutes).

13.

I noticed in Team Hall, during the setup phase, the OPFOR has many entrenchment icons. The program won't let me end the setup phase unless I place all the entrenchments. Is there a way for me to place only a portion, and discard the rest?

Yes. Select the Options/Delete Units menu item or do Cntrl + X ... you will get a cross hair cursor ... click the cursor over the unit or object to be deleted - poof its goone.

14.

I thought (as per the rulebook) that the "Team" scenarios were all Army and that the "Task Force" scenarios were USMC.

Team and Task Force refer to the size of the US force in the scenario, not whether it is USMC or Army. "Team" scenarios are those in which the US force is less than battalion in size. "Task Force" scenarios have a US force equal to or larger than a battalion.

15.

I have taken part in several Warfighter exercises and have always wondered how the software was developed. How would you rate your game on realism?

I think the combat results at company and battalion level are reasonably realistic when averaged out over a period of several turns/several minutes. While in the Marine Corps I participated in a lot of CPXs that were not as realistic as a TacOps administered "recreational" CPX would be *g*.

16.

IT WOULD BE COOL, IF I COULD HAVE ALIAS FOR EACH ID

I have something like this in the command post exercise version of TacOps (a private hobby and research activity). In that version a player can optionally assign a text name of up to 15 characters to each unit marker - for example "1st Plt B Co". This may eventually get into the public game engine but I can not say for sure at present because it makes the unit records so much larger and thus greatly increases the amount of memory needed to play the larger scenarios.

17.

I had two Abrams with vastly different amounts of ammo left. By simply joining them on one turn and unjoining them on the next, the ammo was equally distributed. ... I don't know how realistic this is. ...Is there any way to keep track of individual units after they have become joined so that this sort of redistribution doesn't take place?

It is completely unrealistic - unfortunately there is no reasonable coding solution. Since the game is on a computer, obviously a way could be coded to keep track of individual units once they joined but the resultant cost in memory usage would in my opinion be prohibitive. The solution would be worse than the problem.

18.

Is a large unit more visible that a small one, all things being equal?

It should be but I can't implement this without creating a pressure on the player to break his units down to individual squads/vehicles. In order to maintain playability I have to try to keep the game engine from providing significant incentives to a player to break units down below platoon.

19.

I find a bit disturbing to see units considerably larger on the map than the one pixel that serves a reference for visibility, protection, etc. This becomes even more surprising when a unit can hold a single Bradley or 15 M1A1.

An unfortunate compromise that is required to keep the game playable.

20.

... how can you tell which way an enemy unit is facing ?

Use the Map/Change Unit Symbol Info menu item or its keyboard shortcut. Each time you select that menu item, the face of the markers will change. During the orders phase, the first time it is selected the marker faces will change to show which units have orders and which do not and which units have been opened during this orders phase. The second time it is selected the marker faces will change to show the direction that each unit is facing. The third time it is selected the markers will return to showing the normal unit type icon.

21.

...I've seen BMPs & M2s firing infantry weapons (5.56 mm) at targets. I assume that this is the on board infantry using the firing ports, but this is happening when there is no infantry on board.

Those are the small arms of the vehicle's crew. Usually you won't see crew firing small arms unless the vehicle is fighting at point blank range. If the vehicle was suppressed, the crewmen would not be so brave and efficient *g*. I usually add a rifle or two and a disposable rocket launcher to the data base entry for vehicles just to keep folks honest. Has surprised more than one player who lost an APC or a Tank to an RPG from what he thought was a harmless truck hiding in the woods *g*.

22.

is there any penalty to changing facing while under fire? ... I notice that the AI often doesn't do this, especially with units in emplacements

There is no penalty to changing facing while under fire.

23.

when multiple units are 'joined' and then one is completely killed off, how is the 'postmortum' ammunition distributed? If two Javelin teams with two missiles each 'join', then one team is completely eliminated, does the surviving team have two or four missiles?

The surviving team would have two missiles.

At the instant that one strength point of a given type of unit is completely eliminated (i.e. one squad, one team, or one vehicle) then all the ammo for that one strength point disappears. Example, say you have a marker representing three Javelin ATGM teams and that the three teams total 6men and 12 missiles. The team gets hits by arty and 2 men are killed - in this case since two men equal one Javelin team so a strength point is lost - in this case one strength point comprises one third of the unit marker. Therefore one third of the marker's ammo would be eliminated also. The marker would then show 2 teams with a total of 4 men and 8 missiles.

24.

Is there going to be a way to replay (or set a speed option) for the combat phase.

You can slow down the combat phase by using the File/Options/Change Combat Speed menu item. You can pause the combat phase at any time by touching the space bar. I continue to periodically work on a turn and or game replay option, but I have not yet been able to come up with a solution that does not create prohibitively huge "record" files for large scenarios.

25.

Game mechanics are astonishingly realistic. One rare exception is the two player, face-to-face game in which spotted units are displayed when neither player is giving orders. In my experience, players who see that they have been spotted are given an unrealistic cue about the presence of enemy forces. Obviously spotted units must be displayed during combat, but leaving them up between moves invites players to deduce enemy positions unrealistically.

I agree but I can think of no other way to handle two players on one computer. The main problem is that if units were only displayed when they were still spotted during the orders phase, then players would often miss the short sightings of units moving for a few seconds between cover. By the way, you don't see this effect (i.e. knowing when you have been spotted by hidden enemy units) in any other mode of TacOps play - it is only present in the two on one computer mode. In my opinion play in this mode is highly inferior to any other way of playing TacOps. The optimum game is two players on two networked computers.

26.

I can set maximum firing range for a unit just fine. However, once it fires, this range is always increased to the maximum limit ...Why was it changed from the 0.0 version, which left the setting fixed unless the unit was fired on?

Is not a bug ... is intentional. I am pretty sure that it has always been this way.

My reasoning on this item was that when a unit fires it is generally then usually spotted by all enemy units within 4000 meters that have good line of sight. Accordingly it is generally in the unit's best interest to go to its full range capability. To do otherwise would most often result in the unit getting return fire and not responding. I think the latter approach would cause much greater complaints *g*.

27.

It appears that engagement range for units goes to max automatically when a unit is fired upon? If so, does that imply that any unit fired upon will return fire?

Generally, yes - assuming the unit survives the volley and the usual spotting and readiness conditions are met.

28.

This last game, I gave orders to a SAM unit to make a long trek through the mountains, along a narrow shoreline along a river (being careful not to order it to touch the river itself) and out into open territory where it would have a better field of fire. I had forgotten all about it but 15 turns later I was expecting to see it in the clearing. Instead it was still by the river with zero orders. It was never seen or attacked at any time. What could have caused it to stop?

When non amphibious units move next to water and they find that they have a pending move order that will cause them to enter the water, they stop at the water's edge. They do not attempt to go around. Your situation was probably caused by a disconnect between what the map looks like and what is actually in the terrain data cell. Terrain is averaged into 100 meter cells (ten pixels) that underlay the map art. For artistic effect, the map drawing does not always show the exact trace of the terrain data cell - otherwise the map would be too blocky looking. Rivers are in fact always 100 meters wide to the game engine even if the map art makes them look narrower than that. So, while you could see ground in the map art along the water, it might be that a sliver of the ground is actually registering in the game as water. This is a limitation of the current game engine but it is not a bug. You can use the line of sight tool to find the exact trace of terrain art. Move the line of sight tool cursor around on the map and you will see text at the bottom of the screen that tells you how the game engine will interpret the terrain underneath the cursor.

AI Section

1. For the time being I stopped playing TACOPS. I feel I have been conned by someone's legerdemain with the AI.
2. Why isn't it possible to ply OPFOR against US-Computer ?
3. Question about AI for ya, Major H... at the start of a game, does the AI have a list of differnt tactics to use? Or does it just 'go with the flow', so to speak, and just react to the US' actions?
4. If OPFOR is supposed to be attacking and exit a percentage, will it go into the defensive if it is attacked first?
1.

For the time being I stopped playing TACOPS. I feel I have been conned by someone's legerdemain with the AI.

Misc notes on the AI/Computer opponent follow. Some are related to the gent's comments, some are just provided as additional info on how the AI works so that he could make a better decision about whether he had been "conned" or not *g*.

The AI has only two advantages not allowed to a human player and I think both of these are documented in either the manual or in the FAQ file. The AI gets a one level advantage in first salvo accuracy of observed artillery fire (but not air) and its APCs can pick up dismounted troops at a slightly greater distance than the human is allowed to. Both of these items were compromises that eliminated huge blocks of AI code and they do not significantly affect game outcome.

There are no secret tricks, frictions, or penalties assessed against the human player's force when playing against the AI (some games use such techniques to make the computer opponent seem more capable). I dislike such "AI cheats" in a computer game. I feel very strongly that things like spotting, observation, movement rates, unit capabilities, combat result tables, weapons probabilities and the like should work exactly the same in a solitaire game vs the computer opponent as they do when two humans are playing each other. If the game had different "logic rules" for the solitaire mode then the serious gamer could not confidently use that mode as a means to learn tactical lessons and hone tactical technique for his future games against humans.

In scenarios where the AI is mainly in the attack and the US is mainly on the defense. Before contact with US forces, the AI chooses a target list, a battle plan and routes that will accomplish its mission (if there is no US interference) from a roster of multiple different target lists, plans, and routes. As the OPFOR units make contact with US units, the AI task organizes its battalions and or companies and switches to reacting tactically to those contacts. As it successfully deals with contacts, it switches back to the primary battle plan or it may jump to a different battle plan. Usually the AI will try to aggressively clear obstacles to its battle plan with a combination of direct fire, indirect fire, and or direct assault. Sometimes it will move toward a US position and then quickly pull back in what looks like a series of probes or faltering attacks - in this case the AI is usually trying to draw fire to expose targets for air or arty attack. Sometimes it will assume a temporary defensive posture. Sometimes it will halt or mill around a bit to see what happens if it does little or nothing. Sometimes the AI will put single unit markers or small groups of markers in a "stay behind", "watch", or "reserve" mode - such units may or may not ever move again.

Typically when the AI is in the attack, it may react to incoming arty, even adjusting fire, by dispersing its march and or attack formation. When in the defense the AI typically just "hunkers down" under arty fire.

A big reason why the AI often gets very good use out of its air and arty assets is that it maintains a running target list just as a good human player would. The target list contains recent US unit positions that were legally acquired by spotting and it contains points on the map that would be good places for the US player to use in a given scenario. If the AI is in the attack, the target list also includes terrain points that would make good US defensive positions . At the end of each combat phase, the AI plans its orders for the next turn just as the human player does. The AI looks at its target list and it usually selects arty and air targets based on the most recent spottings of valuable US units. If it doesn't have any solid unit spottings to work with, then it will randomly target nearby terrain that would make good US attack or defensive positions. The AI also notices when it gets secondary explosions and may decide to "stick" to an area for several turns.

Here is how the AI does its thing with calling in air strikes (arty is handled similarly). During each combat phase the AI makes mental notes about points on the map where it legally spotted your units - same as a good human player does. In the case of moving units, it also projects and records where the unit could be in a minute or so based on its speed and its last legally observed direction of movement. I call this maintaining a target list. During the next orders phase the AI plans its orders based on its target list, again based on what it legally saw during previous combat phases - same as the human player does. The first time it spots valuable units it will probably target some or all of them with air and arty up to the limits of its legally available assets. AI OPFOR air gets no time advantage over a human player. During the four to eight combat turns that must pass before the AI's air arrives on the map, the AI continues maintaining and considering its target list of legally spotted units. The AI is allowed to shift ongoing air and arty missions the same distance per turn as the human player is allowed to. Thus as time passes and the AI gains and loses legal unit spottings and as more valuable targets become noticed, it often modifies its air and arty targeting with legal target shifts. Enemy helos are the highest possible priority target for AI air support. Anytime a US or OPFOR airstrike comes on the map it looks for helos within 1000 meters or so of its target point. If it finds a nearby helo, the airstrike will usually switch to a gun attack on that helo. Usually the air unit will prevail over the helo target. Usually an air strike that has diverted to helo attack will also remain available for reuse. By the way, human players also get these very same helo attack benefits with their air.

The AI also has a target list of places on the map that would make good US defense, attack, or hidden observation positions based on the current overall situation. If a terrain feature looks good to you as a fighting or a hide position, it may also look good to the AI. If the AI does not have anything better to shoot at with its air or arty, it will often choose to target these places same as a good human player would. So it is possible for a player to do everything right in carefully occupying a position without being spotted and still find his units later under air or arty attack. In such a case the computer is not cheating - it just made a good or lucky guess.

The AI air support only prospects for helos in locations where they were previously spotted (give or take a kilometer).

The AI knows where its minefields are but it does not know where a US minefield is until it encounters it. Sometimes AI units go around US minefields, sometimes they go through them. Sometimes the AI will drive through its own minefields.

I found during development that I had to be careful with having the AI react in certain ways to certain events in order to reduce the chances that the human player would find "game tricks" that could consistently be used to manipulate the AI into doing predictable things. My experience so far has been that the AI does best when it sticks as much as possible to its primary battle plan. Also having the AI sometimes behave a bit sluggishly is probably more realistic than the "change everything every 60 seconds" capability that the human player has.

The AI gets no special benefits for its direct fire.

The AI uses exactly the same combat results tables as would a human playing OPFOR.

The AI intentionally does not consider enemy smoke or arty fire that is not close to any of its units in developing its turn orders. I assumed folks would try to use arty and smoke in a deceptive fashion in order to trick the AI.

In scenarios that feature OPFOR in a generally defensive posture, the AI usually gets a lot of startup TRPs - i.e. already zeroed target points-that it can switch to with good speed and reasonable accuracy.

If the AI threw up its hands in despair every time the going got tough, TacOps would be boring. Beyond that, the TacOps AI somewhat reflects the same approaches that I find usually have the best results in my personal play against human opponents - (1) simple plan, stubbornly implemented and supported, (2) tight focus on the mission and (3) don't chase rabbits.

The AI is likely to play differently each time you repeat a given scenario or each time you play a given scenario variant. Each scenario and each scenario variant has anywhere from a dozen to multiple dozen different opening moves/strategies for the AI. In general, scenarios that have the AI attacking will have more different opening moves than will scenarios that have the AI defending.

The AI remembers where it recently saw US units. If a helo is observed as it moved to its pop up firing position or if it tries to use the same pop up position twice in a short period then the AI is going to be primed to fire on it.

The computer opponent generally follows OPFOR doctrine but it will often add a twist or two once contact is made. Each scenario has multiple possible opening moves and battle plans and multiple levels of competence. Which combination you draw for each game against the computer opponent is a random event. You may get a good OPFOR commander with an excellent plan, or you might get a poor commander with a bad plan, or something in between. In any case you won't know. Some of the larger scenarios have dozens of different opening moves or battle plans/plan variants - some or better than others. You should be able to play a given scenario many, many times before it starts to become a bit predictable.

The AI is both scripted and reactive. Barring interference from its human opponent, it follows a script or a battle plan that will accomplish its scenario mission. If the human interferes with the plan (i.e. gets in the way with units and or fire) the AI usually switches to reacting to legally acquired spottings of the human's units - sometimes it just ignores minor spottings and or treats them just with arty. If enough time passes with no human interference, the AI will usually switch back to it script. A script or battle plan may include a general movement path, precautionary assaults on intermediate terrain objectives (even if there has been no contact), precautionary pauses followed by recon, rolling arty prep fires, etc. Reaction to contact varies depending on if the AI is attacking or defending but can include ignoring minor human resistance, frontal assault from the column, deployment to a frontal online assault, deploy and maneuver to a flank assault, deploy and maneuver to a rear assault, pause in place and shell, split a force to do combinations of the preceding, temporary withdrawal (not seen very often when AI is attacking), counterattack, online sweep, recon by fire, recon in force, fire and move to alternate position, hasty defense, etc.

I designed the AI so that much of its strength would lie in its unpredictability. In a sense my approach to AI programming hinges on exploiting, even amplifying, the human player's tendency to act fearfully and cautiously in the face of many unknown possibilities. With my approach, the more a user plays TacOps the better the AI appears to do. For example, once a human has experienced an OPFOR battalion unexpectedly bearing down on him from his flank or rear instead of politely driving down the obvious path in column, that human will forever thereafter weaken his optimum defense by putting out OPs and scouts, by dividing his main force to cover more avenues of approach, and by maintaining a reserve.

The AI never resupplies its units.

The AI always operates as if fog of war was set to "on" for OPFOR. In other words, the AI only considers legally spotted units regardless of the game's actual fog of war setting.

The AI is more situation based than map based although each scenario has map specific extra AI embedded in the scenario file. Most of the AI is in the game engine, some is embedded in each scenario, there is none embedded in a map. The AI is not really hardwired for exact units. The AI looks more at the class and weapon systems of its units rather than at the fact that this unit is a T80 and that unit is a T72.

The TacOps AI code comprises 12% of the game engine (based on lines of compiled code), plus additional code that is embedded in each scenario. The code percentage doesn't really reflect the effort that went into the AI. I didn't work on much else for most of a year and I trashed numerous approaches and started over several times. I think it is pretty good compared to the competition, especially since it does not cheat. I don't publicly make a big deal about the AI because I don't think AI can ever be as good as an experienced human - at least not for the price that people are willing to pay for games.

the AI battle plans are not always organized as discrete structures. Many times the final battle plan is created by advancing through a pyramidal chain of route choices, task force organization choices, timing choices, and other tactical concepts with an often random branch taken at each link in the chain. Even I can't always predict what the AI is going to end up with from a given start point *g*. And once contact is made with the US forces, the AI's original plan often goes out the window.

It is true that there are usually only a few "reasonable" strategies for OPFOR in a given scenario, but I don't necessarily limit the battle plans to "reasonable" setups. Sometimes unreasonable AI setups work very nicely against an overconfident US player.

Movement along the top or bottom edge of the map are just two of many possible strategies that the computer opponent may choose to take. Each scenario has multiple possible opening moves and battle plans. Generally out of a dozen or more possible battle plans only 5% maybe 10% will involve movement along a general route that is less than a kilometer from the top or bottom edge - assuming the map is fairly large. The computer opponent may also sometimes gravitate to the map edges in reaction to spottings in an attempt to flank or work around behind the enemy but the effect is being caused by its running into the map edge while trying to do something else. In my opinion, there has to be the occasional chance of OPFOR working the edge of the map or else the human player would not bother to protect his far flanks. Unpredictable routes are a major part of what makes TacOps replayable. If OPFOR always came "up the middle" a user could only play a given scenario a couple of times before becoming bored.

The AI often tries to disperse its units upon contact so that fewer clusters of vehicles exist within the effective radius of air and arty strikes.

The AI does a fair number of interesting and useful things that I don't remember coding *g*.

CAUTION: Some players like to shortcut the game setup turn by reusing old saved game files that contain a "favorite" US setup - this is a bad thing to do. If you restart a game using the saved game file from the first turn of that, you will usually draw the same basic AI battle plan reusing startup turn saved game files spoils replayability. The AI chooses its basic battle plan from its bank of multiple opening moves right after the OPFOR order of battle is loaded and before you have the chance to do a save game. If you do your first turn setup and save the game, then every time you start from that saved game file you will fight the same basic AI battle plan. Doing this will make the AI more predictable and will soon result in boring game play . I can not change this without a huge and very risky program rewrite.

2.

Why isn't it possible to ply OPFOR against US-Computer ?

When I coded most of the AI, it was important to me for the AI to model conventional wisdom on real world OPFOR tactics (for the most part). I probably spent more hours on the AI than anything else. At that time, I did not want to provide a Blue force AI unless it pretty much modeled Western tactics. I could not afford to spend another four to six months coding it "right" so I just did not do it at all. Were I to do it all over again, I would probably provide dual play by the computer opponent and just have both sides use the same AI.

3.

Question about AI for ya, Major H... at the start of a game, does the AI have a list of differnt tactics to use? Or does it just 'go with the flow', so to speak, and just react to the US' actions?

It does both. Before contact with US forces, the AI chooses a target list, a battle plan and routes that will accomplish its mission (if there is no US interference) from a roster of multiple different target lists, plans, and routes. As the OPFOR units make contact with US units, the AI task organizes its battalions and or companies and switches to reacting tactically to those contacts. As it successfully deals with contacts, it switches back to the primary battle plan or it may jump to a different battle plan.

4.

If OPFOR is supposed to be attacking and exit a percentage, will it go into the defensive if it is attacked first?

It happens but it is rare. Usually the AI will try to aggressively clear obstacles to its battle plan.

SUPRESSION SECTION

1. ...why is it that units who are given orders who then take fire seem to " forget " those orders..this is really only a probelm with infantry units simply because they are so slow but it become a problem with other units when thier are a lot of them.
1.

...why is it that units who are given orders who then take fire seem to " forget " those orders..this is really only a probelm with infantry units simply because they are so slow but it become a problem with other units when thier are a lot of them.

Only infantry units "forget" their orders and then only if they have been newly suppressed during the combat phase. This is an intentional penalty and is needed to simulate the halting, irregular pace of the sudden rushes that take place in infantry foot assaults in the face of enemy fire. In general in such situations nobody moves far who is receiving effective fire.

1. I have a question about suppressed APCs. Are they buttoned up?
2. If so, does the current TacOps coding allow mounted Inf. and SAMs to fire?
1.

I have a question about suppressed APCs. Are they buttoned up?

Conceptually yes, but I do not aggressively address every detail that would result from being button up - starts getting into squad leader stuff that the engine can not support without seriously effecting playability in battalion and higher sized engagements.

2.

If so, does the current TacOps coding allow mounted Inf. and SAMs to fire?

Yes, but their spotting and accuracy and effectiveness is greatly degraded.

ELEVATION SECTION

AIRCRAFT ELEVATION SECTION

1. Speaking of contours, I assume the elevated areas in TacOps are large "plateaus" not "hills"? The only slope is at the contour it self.
2. Is this a more accurate reflection of reality or a limitation of the software.
3. I admit I like the way it plays (and plan to adopt something similar for future miniature games I play) I am just wondering how accurate it is.
4. I figured: what the hell, I've got airborne platforms with 24 machine guns (2 ea on 12 helos)let's go kill some rear area troops on the objectives. No matter what pattern I flew, over or around the enemy inf. squads, the transport helo's waist guns would not engage ground targets ever. I ran several tests later, all of which proved that door gunners won't engage ground targets.
5. I don't think I understand the difference between the altitude box and the up/down commands for the helos. As I type this though, I'm thinking that maybe one is immediate orders and one is delayed orders. Is this correct.
6. Also, for helos - I get confused as to how many times I should click on the up arrow to ensure that helo will be able to spot enemy units.
7. I would like to know how Helo altitude is treated with respect to terrain elevation.
1.

Speaking of contours, I assume the elevated areas in TacOps are large "plateaus" not "hills"? The only slope is at the contour it self.

That is correct - at present. A literal translation of the current TacOpsCE high ground terrain would be pancake like mesas with 100 meter wide beveled edges.

2.

Is this a more accurate reflection of reality or a limitation of the software.

It is driven by limitations of the original game engine. When the current TacOps elevation engine was first coded, 'average' PC and Mac CPUs were still at the 30 to 40Mhz level. They were not fast enough to allow adequate game performance with more than two or three terrain elevations - I did try more. A different elevation engine is now possible but it can not be added as a free update to the current program - the ripple effects of providing a more realistic terrain system are just too great to deal with in any way other than putting out a whole new box.

3.

I admit I like the way it plays (and plan to adopt something similar for future miniature games I play) I am just wondering how accurate it is.

I think the two level approach is accurate enough for replicating the most critical elevation related aspects of ground combat - i.e. line of sight blocks due to elevation change, influence of elevation changes on maneuver and lanes of fire, reverse slope defense, importance of defending along the military crest of high ground, etc. However it begins to prove inadequate very rapidly when you start trying to simulate real world areas that people are familiar with and that have a lot of sharply varying and or extreme elevation changes. For example - the Ft. Irwin National Training Center.

4.

I figured: what the hell, I've got airborne platforms with 24 machine guns (2 ea on 12 helos)let's go kill some rear area troops on the objectives. No matter what pattern I flew, over or around the enemy inf. squads, the transport helo's waist guns would not engage ground targets ever. I ran several tests later, all of which proved that door gunners won't engage ground targets.

They will engage but the circumstances have to be just right. The current probabilities in TacOps make transport helo waist/door guns fairly useful while they are entering, are inside, or are leaving an LZ. They make transport helo waist/door guns very ineffective or dangerous to use in other situations. The problem (if this really is a problem *g*) is that in TacOps, direct fire weapons currently only engage targets that they have a reasonable chance of hitting and harming. In TacOps, situational modifiers are applied to transport helo waist/door guns that make them extremely inaccurate/ineffectual unless the helo is landed or hovering and the ground target is very close to the helo (i.e. the common situation in an LZ). Your transport helos did not engage the ground targets for you because the game engine deduced that at the instant they did not have an adequate potential for getting significant effect on the ground target. Sending UH60' s on ground strafing missions can be done in TacOps just as it can be done in real life, however in order to do so you are going to have to put the helo within effective small arms range of the intended target and you are going to have to be willing to trade a lot of your expensive, hard to replace helos for a few of your enemy's easy to replace infantry squads.

5.

I don't think I understand the difference between the altitude box and the up/down commands for the helos. As I type this though, I'm thinking that maybe one is immediate orders and one is delayed orders. Is this correct.

Yes - the altitude box/window menu gives immediate orders while the up/down buttons give delayed orders.

6.

Also, for helos - I get confused as to how many times I should click on the up arrow to ensure that helo will be able to spot enemy units.

One click equals a one level increase or decrease in helo altitude. There are presently only three possible altitudes for a helo in TacOps - landed, nap of the earth, and medium altitude.

7.

I would like to know how Helo altitude is treated with respect to terrain elevation.

The short answer...

A helo flying at NOE (nap of the earth) altitude has the same line of sight as a unit on the ground at the same elevation. A helo flying at medium altitude over any ground elevation can spot (and be spotted by) just about everything within 4000 meters.

A helo over woods or town terrain counts as being one level higher than whatever the trees or town are at. Consider them to be flying "over" such terrain.

The long answer...

"Elevation 0" just means low terrain. The "0" does not mean zero feet of real altitude. Both ground units and helos can be at elevation 0. If a helo is "landed" on terrain that is at elevation 0 then that helo is at elevation 0. If a helo is flying at NOE altitude over terrain that is at elevation 0 then that helo is still at elevation 0. If a helo is flying at NOE altitude over terrain that is at elevation 0 and the helo flys directly over a town or woods, while over the town or woods the helo will be at elevation 1.

"Elevation 1" mean high ground. Both ground units and helos can be at elevation 1. If a helo is "landed" on terrain that is at elevation 1 then that helo is at elevation 1. If a helo is flying at NOE altitude over terrain that is at elevation 1 then that helo is still at elevation 1. If a helo is flying at NOE altitude over terrain that is at elevation 1 and the helo flys directly over a town or woods,while over the town or woods the helo will be at elevation 2 (will actually be treated as being at medium altitude for targeting purposes).

"Elevation 3" means medium altitude. Only helos can be at elevation 3. Elevation 3 is some undefined altitude at which a helo has a clear line of sight to every ground unit within 4000 to 8000 meters and every ground unit has a clear line of sight to the helo. A helo that is flying at medium altitude is always at elevation 3 regardless of what the elevation is of the terrain that it is flying over. Woods and towns are irrelevant at elevation 3.

HOW FAST DO MY UNITS MOVE?

1. Is there only one movement speed in the game?
2. I am playing my first offensive game, [Stubblefied] or something like that, and was trying to figure out how fast each unit moves...
1.

Is there only one movement speed in the game?

Yes and no. The player can not tell a unit to move at say 10 kilometers per hour but units do move at different speeds. The abstraction for movement in TacOps is based on a general combat situation of 'contact imminent'. Thus units do not typically move at their real world technically max possible speed but rather at a lower speed that is based partially on tactical caution and partially on limits imposed by the varying roughness/trafficability of terrain. All units of a given class have the same maximum game speed potential, however their speed at the instant is determined mostly by the class of terrain that they are in and if they are suppressed.

2.

I am playing my first offensive game, [Stubblefied] or something like that, and was trying to figure out how fast each unit moves...

My quoting to you the basic and terrain modified movement rates used in the code for the various types of units would probably not be very helpful. A better approach would be for you to setup a test game and to experiment with giving orders to the three basic classes of ground units (tracked, wheeled, foot) to move along roads, go cross country, thru woods, etc. Observe how much ground a given class of unit can cover on your screen in one or two minutes. Use an index card for each class and mark the distance along one side that that type of unit can travel in woods terrain. Mark another side for clear terrain, roads, etc. The markings that you develop will be good guides for planning but remember that things like firing and being suppressed will usually cause units to cover less ground per minute. You can also see approximately how long it will take for a unit to get to a given waypoint in its future movement path by clicking on the little black button in the box labeled "Orders" in the orders window. Doing so will display a time next to each waypoint on the map - see Users Guide page 26.

HOW DO I GO IN REVERSE SECTION

HOW DO NOT GET MY ASS SHOT OFF?!?

1. Is it really as difficult to disengage as it appears in the game? I have tried to get units to shoot a bit and then back out and they usually end up getting hammered (especially since they have turned around and get shot at from the rear). Can we have a "back up" option?
2. How do you order vehicles to backup without changing facing?
3. Is it possible to have a unit back up (i.e. reverse) so that it doesn't expose it's rear to the enemy?
1.

Is it really as difficult to disengage as it appears in the game? I have tried to get units to shoot a bit and then back out and they usually end up getting hammered (especially since they have turned around and get shot at from the rear). Can we have a "back up" option?

Use the "Reverse after firing" and or "Reverse if fired on" settings in the unit SOP orders window. See the Users Guide pp 29-30 and the Read Me/Errata text files. The unit will automatically back up so as to keep its frontal armor toward the enemy.

For direct movement orders, hold down the option key as you give a movement order and the unit will move in reverse so as to keep its frontal armor toward the enemy. See the Read Me/Errata text files.

2.

How do you order vehicles to backup without changing facing?

Hold down the option key as you click the "go to" order on the map. When that order is reached during the combat turn the vehicle will move toward that point "in reverse".

3.

Is it possible to have a unit back up (i.e. reverse) so that it doesn't expose it's rear to the enemy?

Yes. When giving movement orders to a unit - if you hold down the option key as you click on the map, the unit will later move to that point "in reverse".

1. If a Stinger or Javelin team takes a hit and one member is killed (so that only one person is left) can that person still operate the Stinger/Javelin?
2. In the 'exit' scenarios, what exactly is a unit? Is it a squad or a team, for infantry? I have been wondering what the tradeoffs are, for example between exiting a tank and exiting a infantry team.
1.

If a Stinger or Javelin team takes a hit and one member is killed (so that only one person is left) can that person still operate the Stinger/Javelin?

Yes.

2.

In the 'exit' scenarios, what exactly is a unit? Is it a squad or a team, for infantry? I have been wondering what the tradeoffs are, for example between exiting a tank and exiting a infantry team.

In general, in TacOps, when I mention a "unit" I mean a "marker". A marker can represent one infantry squad/team up to a company. A marker can represent one vehicle up to a company. A marker can also include all the infantry embarked on the vehicles in the marker. However, when a unit/marker is exited, the program counts its strength pts and multiplies that count by the Unit Lethality Value shown for that unit on pages 110 to 112 of the manual. A strength point is the smallest possible unit that a given marker type can be broken down into. For infantry units one strength point is one squad or one team. For vehicle units one strength point is one vehicle. For example. One M1 tank has a value of 100 points. If you exit a marker that represents 10 M1 tanks then the exit score for that unit/marker would be 10 times 100. Its exit score would be 1000. If you exist an APC marker then the exit score would include the computed values for all the APCs in the marker plus the computed values for all the infantry units being carried inside the APCs.

HOW DO I PUT MY UNITS ON THE EDGE SO THEY CAN SEE OUT

1. ...one of the real "hindrances" to the game is trying to site units so they are both in the "forest" but can see out where you want them to. It takes a lot of time and trouble (and distracts from the game) to check carefully for that...
1.

...one of the real "hindrances" to the game is trying to site units so they are both in the "forest" but can see out where you want them to. It takes a lot of time and trouble (and distracts from the game) to check carefully for that...

The special spotting buffer zones at the edge of woods, towns, and high ground are 100 meters or ten pixels wide (give or take a couple of pixels from what the map shows). That is a little more than an eighth of an inch on most monitors. Visualize the center point of a unit marker and as long as that center point is anywhere in that buffer zone then you are OK. It becomes very intuitive after a couple of games. Unit position, line of sight, and spotting are all calculated from the center point of the unit markers.

SUPPRESION SECTION

1. When a tank team is suppressed how long does it last?
2. Does the effectiveness of infantry units which have sustained losses decrease in any way. (ie. loss of weapon capability, decreased number of firing phases, etc? ... When a Stinger team member is hit are you decreasing the teams rate of fire?
1.

When a tank team is suppressed how long does it last?

One to two minutes per suppression event. Note that suppression is not additive - if a unit gets a new suppression result before the previous suppression has worn off then the remainder of the old suppression value is replaced with a new suppression value.

2.

Does the effectiveness of infantry units which have sustained losses decrease in any way. (ie. loss of weapon capability, decreased number of firing phases, etc? ... When a Stinger team member is hit are you decreasing the teams rate of fire?

When any infantry unit takes a personnel casualty, the entire unit is suppressed for a couple of minutes. During that time, the unit moves slower, shoots less, spots less, and shoots less accurately. Once personnel casualties reach a certain point then the infantry marker will drop an organizational level and it will then fire fewer weapons - i.e. platoon goes to two squads, then two squads go to one, and finally a one squad market is completely eliminated.

MULTIPLAYER SECTION

1. What's the best scenario (balanced and fun) for two players?
1.

What's the best scenario (balanced and fun) for two players?

I think most people would say "Task Force DeGoey" and I would not argue that call. However, a scenario that is often overlooked is "Team Savage" - the airfield defense by USMC stragglers vs an OPFOR battalion mounted in BTRs. Most players seem to think that it is a walk over for OPFOR but I think it is a very balanced scenario when played by experienced players. When played by experienced players, a US victory requires more adroit use of infantry tactics and short ranged weapons than any other scenario (i.e. in particular the US player must realize and exploit the fact that machine guns can kill BTRs from the sides and rear *g*) while an OPFOR victory requires more finesse (sneakiness ?) in the attack than most other scenarios.

CPX SECTION

1. I'm curious about TacOps CPXs. They sound like a lot of fun. How are they conducted? I've always wanted to participate in one of these but never understood how they work.
1.

I'm curious about TacOps CPXs. They sound like a lot of fun. How are they conducted? I've always wanted to participate in one of these but never understood how they work.

Below is one way that it has been done ...

While a CPX is underway, only the umpire is running TacOps on a computer. The players do not run or even need to have the TacOps program. The umpire uses the TacOps program to control and generate the maneuver and combat results aspects of the CPX. The players participate by exchanging Internet email and Internet IRC chat messages with the umpire and with each other. Each player tracks his part of the war using only paper notes and a paper situation map.

One to two weeks before the CPX the umpire publicly announces what TacOps map will be used and a general starting situation. The players then print that map and organize themselves into US and OPFOR teams complete with a command structure. Once the teams have been organized, the umpire then privately provides additional info and a mission to the US commander and does the same for the OPFOR commander. The force commanders then develop battle plans with their volunteer subordinates.

On a Saturday or a Sunday the umpire and the players gather on specified Internet IRC chat channels and the CPX begins. Normally there is an admin channel that everyone monitors, a private channel just for the umpire and the US team, and a private channel just for the umpire and the OPFOR team. Each team privately gives its starting orders and intentions to the umpire (usually in military terms rather than game terms). The umpire then enters his interpretation of the players instructions into the TacOps game and he executes one or more TacOps turns. As significant events occur on the umpire's computer, he sends a summary of the action to the players and he gives them an opportunity to ask questions, to state new orders, to call for arty and air support, to reorganize their forces, etc. The umpire then again enters his interpretation of the players instructions into the TacOps game and he executes one or more TacOps turns. This cycle repeats until the game is over or until everyone is exhausted.

MAPS SECTION

1. You often mention that a TacOps map is a collection of pixels, opposed to a hex-based one. What is so wrong about hexes? And after all isn't a pixel a very small hex?
1.

You often mention that a TacOps map is a collection of pixels, opposed to a hex-based one. What is so wrong about hexes? And after all isn't a pixel a very small hex?

By hex I mean a traditional six sided wargaming hex. There is not necessarily anything wrong with hexes. Six sided hexes remain a useful tool for simplifying terrain in most games. They worked well for that purpose in board games and they continue to be useful in computer games as a way to conserve memory while portraying very large maps. A pixel is not just a very small hex in that a pixel is conceptually square - there is a significant difference in the difficulty of coding a regular matrix built on consistent squares and in coding for a matrix based on six sided hexes in an alternating pattern. However, the primary reason why I do not wish to use six sided hexes in TacOps is that I have a long range goal of linking the TacOps engine to a real world, global digital mapping data base on CD ROM.

MAP MAKING

This issue focuses on the TacOps map making utility.

1. How large can a TacOps map be?
2. What resolution should I use when saving the map artwork?
3. What Photoshop mode should I work in?
4. When scanning the map it must be scanned at a perfect right angle on the scanner. Right?
5. How do I scale a paper map scan so that the UTM grid lines up with the TacOps UTM grid?
6. Is there any way to code swamps?
1.

How large can a TacOps map be?

I think that the map tool instructions say that you can build a map up to 31 or 32 kilometers across. That is an error. I recently found out that some older PCs and obsolete versions of Windows have trouble loading a very large map at more 256 colors if the map exceeds the following guidelines (Windows 95, Windows 98/98SE, Windows ME, Windows NT earlier than NT4).

If one axis of the map is 31 Km, the other axis should not be more than 26.

If one axis of the map is 30 Km. the other axis should not be more than 27.

If one axis of the map is 29 Km, the other axis should not be more than 28..

Or more technically, if the total size of a map (width in pixels X height in pixels) is greater than 8,355,839 pixels then the map can not be loaded on obsolete versions of Windows if monitor colors are set at greater than 256 colors. The exact Windows call that is failing at higher color settings is CreateCompatibleBitmap(...).

Confusing minutiae: The map tool limits width to 3100 pixels. It should also limit height to 3100 pixels but I recently discovered that it does not due to a typo in the code. The TacOps program limits width to 3250 pixels and limits height to 3100 pixels. I don't recall why the program is different from the map tool. Probably another detail that slipped through the crack due my falling asleep at the keyboard on some late night coding binge. :)

2.

What resolution should I use when saving the map artwork?

It should always be 72 dpi for the final map artwork. No other value is acceptable.

3.

What Photoshop mode should I work in?

I suggest that you work in Photoshop RGB mode and save in ".psd" format until the map is completely finished. Most if not all Photoshop filters and tools work best in RGB mode and in ".psd" format. However, you should convert a copy to single layer, indexed colors, 16 bit (256 colors), bmp format before passing the map art to the TacOps map tool. Some of your map colors may change slightly in the conversion from RGB to 16 bit indexed but the change is usually not severe. TacOps will display 24 bit maps, but the cost in computer memory and hard disk space is very high - I would prefer that 24 bit maps not be deposited on the Battlefront sponsored web site.

4.

When scanning the map it must be scanned at a perfect right angle on the scanner. Right?

That will almost never happen. Your scan will almost always be slightly off. If you want the grid lines to be perfectly north to south and perfectly east to west you will have to rotate and or skew them with a good quality paint program. You will probably also end up needing to shrink or expand the scan to some extent in order to get the scale perfect at 1 pixel per 10 meters.

5.

How do I scale a paper map scan so that the UTM grid lines up with the TacOps UTM grid?

Here is a very simple and very fast shortcut for scans of real world maps that contain a UTM gird. First, rotate and or skew the artwork so that the north/south lines are as vertical as possible and so that the east/west lines are as horizontal as possible - Photoshop allows one to do separate rotate or skew operations on both the vertical and the horizontal axes. This step will also help "square off" the grid squares on maps that have a significant variance in the width of grid squares as one moves from the bottom of a map to the top. Now trim the map scan so that it contains only complete grid squares - no partial grid squares on any edge. Count the width and height of the trimmed map in grid squares (kilometers). Multiply that by 100 (in TacOps a 1000 meter grid square has a width of 100 pixels). Open the Photoshop "Image Size" window and enter the converted width and the converted height in pixels into the width and height pixels boxes. Click the OK button. Photoshop will then automatically scale your map scan to the precise TacOps scale in one step. The result of all of the above steps is usually the best possible convergence of the UTM lines of the scanned map and the UTM lines that will be drawn by TacOps. The two grids will not always match perfectly when displayed by TacOps but they will usually match within one or two pixels.

6.

Is there any way to code swamps?

I used some or all of the following to represent swamps and marshes on the Camp Lejeune map. 1. Water (unit has to be amphibious to enter or cross). 2. Water + woods (unit has to be amphibious to enter or cross). 3. Rough1 through Rough4 (any unit can enter and cross). Rough can not be combined with water. 4. Woods + Rough1 through Rough4 (any unit can enter and cross). Rough can not be combined with water. Woods + rough4 is the worst terrain possible in TacOps - that is still passable to all units.

1. What do the different categories of rough stand for?
2. I don't know if you have a Rough0 ?
3. Do you tie line-of-sight to the Rough levels?
4. if you have 1000 meters of non wooded terrain that is uniformly labeled Rough2, can an observer see across the entire space?
5. In woods in TacOps, units seem to be able to see about > 200-300 meters. Is this limitation because you have it > labeled as Rough2, or because of some other coding you use > to indicate that the woods block line-of-sight?
6. The hi/low and misc Los block buttons in the map utility have me confused.
7. As to Hi/Lo terrain I look at the contour lines and the triangulation points and make a decision as to which contour line is the cutoff point between Hi and Lo. Then I make a new layer in Photoshop and draw freehand around these contour lines and fill it with a darker shade. Then I select all the woods bit by bit and COPY the shape of the woods. I PASTE this onto a new layer and make it darker green and put that on top of the Hi-Lo layer.
1.

What do the different categories of rough stand for?

The info below is an approximation of the effects of rough1 through rough4 terrain for a given unit type. There are other things going on in the game so this may not always be exact.

  • Rough1 - 50% of cross country, clear terrain speed

  • Rough2 - 25% of cross country, clear terrain speed

  • Rough3 - 12.5% of cross country, clear terrain speed

  • Rough4 - 6% of cross country, clear terrain speed

The level of 'roughness' affects both speed of transit and visibility. You can mark an area as 'rough' either because it is (a) actually slow to cross due to poor trafficability or due to a vehicle not being able to drive very far in a straight line [i.e. move around boulders, bogs, vegetation] or

(b) you can call an area rough because it has a lot of local minor elevations changes or vegetation clumps that tend to cause vehicles to disappear from LOS as they move around or (c) because the area has a lot of local folds that make it easy for a vehicle to choose to hide itself momentarily. 'Rough' works OK for any of those conceptual abstractions. Rough terrain does not block line of sight (unless combined with woods, town, or a misc LOS block) but it will cause spotted enemy units to randomly disappear from the map display. The rougher the terrain, the more often that happens. This is more of a distraction to the human watching the screen than it is to his units on the map. In June of 2002 I added three levels of "impassible" to the terrain types. Unless a road is present, Level 1 can not be entered by wheeled vehicles. Level 2 can not be entered by wheeled vehicles or tracked vehicles. Level 3 can not be entered by wheeled vehicles, tracked vehicles, or dismounted infantry. The presence of road terrain negates any level of impassable terrain.

2.

I don't know if you have a Rough0 ?

That would be 'Clear' terrain. In TacOps 'Clear Terrain' is easily trafficable to both tracked and military style wheeled vehicles, is reasonably level, and is mostly free of tall vegetation. The only thing in TacOps that is better/faster than 'Clear Terrain' is 'Road Terrain'.

3.

Do you tie line-of-sight to the Rough levels?

Line of sight - No. Transient visibility potential - Yes.

4.

if you have 1000 meters of non wooded terrain that is uniformly labeled Rough2, can an observer see across the entire space?

Yes - with regard to having a technically unblocked line of sight to an active or spotted unit. But, if a unit becomes motionless and passes a combat phase without firing then the game engine assumes that the unit has taken some sort of small movement action to reduce its vulnerability to being spotted - the game engine then lowers that unit's transient 'visibility' classification. In other words enemy units will have to get closer to such a unit in order to spot it well enough to justify firing on it. If the unit moves or begins firing then its 'visibility' to the enemy instantly jumps back up to maximum. The 'rougher' the terrain then the lower the unit's potential visibility - until it either moves or fires.

5.

In woods in TacOps, units seem to be able to see about > 200-300 meters. Is this limitation because you have it > labeled as Rough2, or because of some other coding you use > to indicate that the woods block line-of-sight?

This LOS limitation is linked to the coding of 'woods' and not to 'rough'. There are two main abstractions regarding 'woods' terrain. Units that are 'deep' inside 'woods' terrain can only see into adjacent wooded 100 meter squares - this is linked to the terrain being coded as 'woods' and is not due to whether such wooded terrain is or is not also some level of 'rough'. Units that are located in the outermost 100 meters of a body of woods terrain cells can see out of the woods into non wooded terrain the same as if they were in clear terrain - this is also linked to the terrain being coded as 'woods' and is not due to whether such wooded terrain is or is not also some level of 'rough'. To understand the latter abstraction, picture having your vehicle parked just inside the edge of a wood line. You can see out of the woods just fine but distant enemy units have a hard time spotting you because your motionless silhouette is broken up by vegetation beside and behind you. But if you move or start shooting then they can often pick you out instantly. The most basic principle of fieldcraft is that activity draws fire.

6.

The hi/low and misc Los block buttons in the map utility have me confused.

If the hi/low button is check marked then the cursor will create high ground when you click on the map at a point that is currently low ground. If you click on a point that is currently high ground then that point will be converted to low ground.

7.

As to Hi/Lo terrain I look at the contour lines and the triangulation points and make a decision as to which contour line is the cutoff point between Hi and Lo. Then I make a new layer in Photoshop and draw freehand around these contour lines and fill it with a darker shade. Then I select all the woods bit by bit and COPY the shape of the woods. I PASTE this onto a new layer and make it darker green and put that on top of the Hi-Lo layer.

This is how I handle that. I prefer that the edges of details in the terrain art such as (woods, elevation changes, etc) match the edges of the 100 meter terrain cells as much as possible. This makes the map art a bit "blocky" but makes it much easier for the user to position his units with minimal map study and experimentation. I accept the blockiness that this adds to the presentation as a reasonable tradeoff for user convenience. So, instead of drawing the edges/boundaries freehand I use the map tool to actually code them. I then do screen captures of the result and I put that into a Photoshop layer to use as a guide. This probably does not make any sense to you if you are not familiar with Photoshop editing layers and its cross layer selection options. When I do need to do something freehand, I have Photoshop display a ten pixel by ten pixel grid layer and I use that as a guide.

WADI

1. I have two questions (being ignorant of desert landforms): What is a wadi? What is a sand berm (and why would one build one)?
1.

I have two questions (being ignorant of desert landforms): What is a wadi? What is a sand berm (and why would one build one)?

Technically a wadi is a gully, valley, or riverbed in northern Africa and southwestern Asia that remains dry except during the rainy season - often the feature will be dry unless rain is actually falling in the feature or within some miles of it. Given rain, the feature typically fills briefly with rushing water that erodes it deeper and wider - i.e. just like the flash flood of the US western desert. Wadi has been used to describe features varying from only a few dozen meters wide up to large geographic regions. In US usage the term has degenerated to apply to just about any gully or ditch like feature that is large enough to drive a tank through. Such features are often very militarily significant in desert areas of Africa and southwestern Asia because (1) they provide terrain landmarks for navigation in an otherwise often featureless area, (2) they are usually deep enough to provide cover from distant observation across an otherwise flat and featureless desert, (3) they often extend in the direction you want to travel, (4) their firmer bottoms (except when closely strewn with boulders) sometimes provide better trafficability than the loose sand of higher terrain. In the assault, items (2) and (3) would make traveling in a wadi very useful to armor for limiting exposure to long range ATGMs while approaching an enemy defensive position. An obliging wadi would also prove useful to an assaulting infantry force as it would allow some movement out of sight of the enemy, thus reducing their vulnerability to accurately adjusted arty fire.

The Iraqis used sand berms and sand piles in an attempt to provide ground level line of sight blocks and concealment in areas of flat desert during their war with Iran and later in the Gulf War against the coalition. A sand berm is simply sand, earth, and or rocks that have been bulldozed into a pile or long wall that is typically taller than a tank. In flat, featureless desert anything that obstructs long range ground level visibility is of military value - you can't shoot accurately at what you can not see. Properly constructed sand berms may also provide brief obstacles to movement. Were you defending in flat featureless terrain, a sand berm a few hundred to a thousand meters in front of your position could allow you to engage an enemy force piece meal (a stupid enemy that is) - as leading enemy units crossed the berm you would be able to engage them with your whole force without being exposed to return fire from the whole enemy force.

AI SECTION

1. Actually, that raises a question. If I can predict where OPFOR will strike by noticing its firing patterns, can AI: a) purposely mislead human by artying one place and coming from another? b) observe MY firing patterns to know where MY troops are expected to pass?
2. I was wondering how much the AI in TacOps is fooled by misdirection such as using artillery smoke rounds to make it appear as if a thrust is being made where there really isn't one.
3. With a chopper I had given myself, I could see the OPFOR sitting in the back of the map. They seemed to be hiding when if they had attacked in force, they would busted right through my defences and through the town. Can OPFOR see the same stats as we can in the game status which shows the battle force size?
4. Does the AI know something I don't know?
5. Or does the AI just leave its units that way to keep me from fooling it into turning its back on my main force?
1.

Actually, that raises a question. If I can predict where OPFOR will strike by noticing its firing patterns, can AI: a) purposely mislead human by artying one place and coming from another? b) observe MY firing patterns to know where MY troops are expected to pass?

The AI does not work very hard to do item "a" although it can seem to happen if an independent OPFOR recon unit is prowling around some distance from the location of the main body. Usually such recon units do not survive long enough to be very effective at instigating this kind of deception.

The AI observes your firing patterns to the extent that it may choose to deploy some of it units near legally observed arty impacts into a more dispersed attack formation but it does not try to use the information to predict US attack routes. I generally avoid doing such AI code because it would most likely just create a way for the human to consistently trick the AI.

2.

I was wondering how much the AI in TacOps is fooled by misdirection such as using artillery smoke rounds to make it appear as if a thrust is being made where there really isn't one.

The TacOps AI intentionally does not consider enemy smoke in developing its tactical reaction orders. I assumed folks would try to use smoke in the fashion you suggested in order to trick the AI *g*. The AI does react to legal sightings of enemy units however.

3.

With a chopper I had given myself, I could see the OPFOR sitting in the back of the map. They seemed to be hiding when if they had attacked in force, they would busted right through my defences and through the town. Can OPFOR see the same stats as we can in the game status which shows the battle force size?

The AI currently does not really consider the overall remaining strength of the US player when planning its move. In my opinion doing so would cause the AI to periodically to do unrealistic things just to win the game - things like noting that most of the US units were "gone" and then switching to just driving off the map edge - I would consider that to be a game trick. I did not design the AI specifically to beat up on you or to care particularly if it wins or loses. My goal for the AI is for it to move its forces and to respond to contact in a tactically realistic way so that the game looks and feels right militarily. A fortunate side effect is that using real world tactics and principles often seems to also be a good approach for the AI to take from a game play standpoint *g*. Other than some overaggressive selfpropelled howitzers that sometimes insist on leading charges instead of providing supporting fire like they are supposed to do, I think it does ok.

As for "busting through the town", the AI is a lot more afraid of your arty than it is of your ground units. One US unit with a good field of view can wreak havoc just by adjusting arty ICM missions. The AI may have just been being careful to get its attack formation organized before venturing out into the open.

4.

Does the AI know something I don't know?

No.

5.

Or does the AI just leave its units that way to keep me from fooling it into turning its back on my main force?

I found during development that I had to be careful with having the AI react in certain ways to certain events in order to reduce the chances that the human player would find "game tricks" that could consistently be used to manipulate the AI into doing predictable things. My experience so far has been that the AI does best when it sticks as much as possible to its primary battle plan. Also having the AI sometimes behave a bit sluggishly is probably more realistic than the "change everything every 60 seconds" capability that the human player has *g*.

1. TacOps Gazette 96.11
2. At a point in the scenario, I would say about 90 minutes into it, suddenly everything becomes easy for the US player. OPFOR units are curiously eliminated or damaged without great expenditure in ammo by the US forces.
3. As the OPFOR reinforcements get near the nuclear facility they become much less aggressive. Strange very strange, because by that time the US forces are decimated, down to a few infantry units, practically no armor or attack helicopters.
1.

TacOps Gazette 96.11

This issue started out as a simple answer to an email question, but by the time I was done the response turned out to be a summary of just about everything I have ever written about the TacOps AI/computer opponent. It is a bit disjointed but that often happens when I work on a long response during "compiling" breaks *g*.

After playing the Degoey scenario many times, I am convinced that it is stage-managed in favor of the US Forces.

It is not. I assume by "stage-managed" that you mean some sort of artificial game management that periodically favors one side or the other. My term for that is "AI cheating" and it does not happen in TacOps. TacOps does not artificially adjust the level of difficulty for one side or the other in any way.

2.

At a point in the scenario, I would say about 90 minutes into it, suddenly everything becomes easy for the US player. OPFOR units are curiously eliminated or damaged without great expenditure in ammo by the US forces.

There is nothing in the game code that was intentionally designed to produce an effect like that. The combat results tables never change.

3.

As the OPFOR reinforcements get near the nuclear facility they become much less aggressive. Strange very strange, because by that time the US forces are decimated, down to a few infantry units, practically no armor or attack helicopters.

The AI would not know that the US forces are decimated. I do not allow the AI to track the total force condition of the US player. The AI plans its orders for each turn based on its overall battle plan, on recent legal sightings of enemy units, and on the effects of current and recent direct and indirect fire that it has received. The AI currently does not really consider the overall remaining strength of the US player when planning its move. In my opinion doing so would cause the AI to periodically to do unrealistic things just to win the game - things like noting that most of the US units were "gone" and then switching to just driving off the map edge - I would consider that to be a game trick. I did not design the AI specifically to beat up on you or to care particularly if it wins or loses. My goal for the AI is for it to move its forces and to respond to contact in a tactically realistic way so that the game looks and feels right militarily. A fortunate side effect is that using real world tactics and principles often seems to also be a good approach for the AI to take from a game play standpoint *g*. Other than some overaggressive self propelled howitzers that sometimes insist on leading charges instead of providing supporting fire like they are supposed to do, I think it does ok.

Scenario Chapter

TEAM CAHOON

1. Has anyone encountered a bug in T Minamora and T Cahoon? It seems impossible to meet the objective. ... The scenario summary tells me that OPFOR automatically loses if at any time there is no OPFOR unit on the target spot (shown on the map during set-up). The spot (with an A) appears in the woods located to immediate the east of the town. Even though several of my vehicles ran over what I thought was the spot, and discovered no "hidden" OPFOR unit, I had still not met my objective according to the game status window.
2. What is the best way to win team Cahoon against the computer AI? I'm still not too good at being on the offensive.
3. I'm presently stuck at Team Cahoon. I am always defeated by running out of time trying to dislodge the three Infantry squads. How do I dislodge them? Arty doesn't help much, doesn't attrit them, simply suppress them.
1.

Has anyone encountered a bug in T Minamora and T Cahoon? It seems impossible to meet the objective. ... The scenario summary tells me that OPFOR automatically loses if at any time there is no OPFOR unit on the target spot (shown on the map during set-up). The spot (with an A) appears in the woods located to immediate the east of the town. Even though several of my vehicles ran over what I thought was the spot, and discovered no "hidden" OPFOR unit, I had still not met my objective according to the game status window.

No bug. The mission objective area is a lot bigger than the "spot" under the "A". The letter A just marks the center of the objective area. The full mission objective is about 1200 meters wide and 2000 meters tall.

Select the "Plot Mission Objectives" menu item in the Map menu. This will draw a dark line around the objective area. You will then be able to see exactly what it looks like, where it is, and how big it is. Scoping the size and shape of the objective is a critical first step for playing all scenarios having terrain objectives.

In Team Minamora, the objective area can be a bit difficult to distinguish from the OPFOR, black setup frame during the startup turn. The objective area has a somewhat irregular border while the OPFOR setup frame is a sharp rectangle. Once the setup turn is over and only the objective area is plotted on the map, it is easy to see what is where.

2.

What is the best way to win team Cahoon against the computer AI? I'm still not too good at being on the offensive.

Patience and combined arms. First check the east end of the town for OPFOR stragglers and clear it if necessary. Then move most of your force eastward using terrain cover along the top or bottom of the map. Send small scouting groups into the open east of the town with good covering fire available from the majority of your force which is kept back in the edge of town or in nearby woods. As you draw fire, patiently mass your direct fire and arty support to eliminate the forward enemy positions with minimum casualties. Towards the end of the game move all your units to the top or bottom of the objective area and then turn them north or south as the case may be, put them on line, and then just sweep the length of the objective area. Helps to lead the sweep by a couple of hundred meters with a moving barrage of arty fire - keeps some of the ATGM and RPG gunners in their holes *grin*.

3.

I'm presently stuck at Team Cahoon. I am always defeated by running out of time trying to dislodge the three Infantry squads. How do I dislodge them? Arty doesn't help much, doesn't attrit them, simply suppress them.

First get rid of all enemy armor. Then attack the enemy infantry with a combined arms assault in the following manner. Get good observation of the enemy position then shell the enemy infantry with HE or ICM until you have good accuracy and are able to suppress the infantry. Switch your arty to smoke for one mission to blind the infantry. Move toward the smoked position with tanks and APCs - APCs leading. About 200 meters from the enemy position stop your vehicles and dismount your infantry. Have your infantry assault on foot. When the arty smoke clears, the enemy infantry will begin to fire at your infantry. This will reveal their position to your tanks and APCs and your vehicles should begin to fire into the enemy infantry with good effect. Keep your infantry moving toward the enemy infantry until the enemy is eliminated. A few turns of this should do the trick for each enemy infantry position.

TEAM CRAIG

1. ...how to build a effective defense in the CRAIG scenarios? ... what is the best use for the LAV 25 IFV? Too weak for long distances, cannonfodder at point-blank range.
1.

...how to build a effective defense in the CRAIG scenarios? ... what is the best use for the LAV 25 IFV? Too weak for long distances, cannonfodder at point-blank range.

Use the LAV25s to ambush OPFOR APCs - preferably from the flanks and or rear. You can win the CRAIG scenarios just by killing most of the OPFOR APCs. The autocannon on the LAV25 can chew up BTRs and BMPs from all aspects at close and medium range. If you can find a way for the LAV25 to get a rear shot it can also kill tanks.

DEGOEY

1. Have you ever won as OPFOR in DeGoey
2. I'm in a PBEM game of TF DeGoey and playing the OPFOR. My opponent and I are at about 9:10 and most of our forces are on the board. For the life of me, I can't come up with a successful strategy to advance from East to West.
3. Is there a way of winning TF Degoey?
4. In that particular scenario, DeGoey, or any situation with helos you can obliterate the enemy when they are entering from off board. You almost always know about what time he's coming on so you fire some art'y smoke a couple thousand meters from the edge and fly a helo into it. Even if OpFor has thermal sights, it's only the tanks and ATGM's, and they probably won't get close enough to shoot their MG's at you. Just sit in the smoke and blast away.
1.

Have you ever won as OPFOR in DeGoey

Yes. Use the truck company in the large city in the northwest corner of the map to move a line of infantry and SAMs forward to gather intelligence, to observe for arty, to shoot down troop helos, and to generally harass the US player while he is seizing the facility and is setting up his defense.

2.

I'm in a PBEM game of TF DeGoey and playing the OPFOR. My opponent and I are at about 9:10 and most of our forces are on the board. For the life of me, I can't come up with a successful strategy to advance from East to West.

First a question. Did you use the first hour of the game and the truck company in the big city in the northeast corner of the map to place a line of OPFOR observation posts and SA16s as far west as possible? If you did not - then forget planning and just charge *grin*.

My suggestions for the OPFOR in TF DeGoey are:

(1) Split the truck company in the city into individual truck markers, load them with infantry teams and SA16 teams (you can fit two inf squads and a SA16 in each truck), and then fan the trucks out and drive them west until each either reaches a good observation position ( OP) or it gets destroyed by a Cobra (usually some of the cargo will survive and that spot may well be as good as any for an OP). If any trucks make safe deliveries, then send them back to the city to pick up and deploy another load. The primary purpose of these guys is to observe and hinder the development of the US defense against the OPFOR reinforcements. The infantry teams can spot the US units as they debark from their helos. The SA16 teams can harass and attrit the US transport helos. If the US player is the least bit careless, a SA16 hit on a CH54 helo can leave a big hole in the US defense. The forward deployed SA16s will discourage the US player from using his Cobras to gather intelligence to the east.

(2) OPFOR can not really plan his offensive strategy until just before the leading elements of his reinforcements enter the map. At that time effective planning depends on OPs having spotted the trace and makeup of the US forward defense. OPFOR then plans: (a) if there is a weak flank - to maneuver around a flank so as to attack the US defense from the side/ rear, or (b) if there is no weak flank but there is a weak area in the line - to use terrain masking to approach as close as possible to the weak spot and then to charge in close waves toward and through the weak spot, or (c) if there is no weak flank and no weak spot in the line or if OPFOR does not know where the heck the US defense line is - to move as close as possible to the nuclear facility while using terrain masking and then charge in close waves.

3.

Is there a way of winning TF Degoey?

(1) Make the reinforcing OPFOR infantry walk to the objective. Use every unit that carries a machine gun as an armor hunter/killer team and move them as far East of the objective as you dare. In TF DeGoey, the OPFOR APCs are BTRs. BTRs have very weak armor and can be killed easily by machine gun fire into their side or rear.

(2) Use your fixed wing air power aggressively in TF DeGoey. The Marine force in TF DeGoey has a very high (for TacOps) fixed wing sortie rate. If you use your airstrikes, you will find that you will get more of them relatively quickly. In TF DeGoey the US player should always keep at least one empty mission slot in his air support window as this is what lets the game engine know that you can use more air. If you have all six slots filled, you will not get more air support until one of them is used.

4.

In that particular scenario, DeGoey, or any situation with helos you can obliterate the enemy when they are entering from off board. You almost always know about what time he's coming on so you fire some art'y smoke a couple thousand meters from the edge and fly a helo into it. Even if OpFor has thermal sights, it's only the tanks and ATGM's, and they probably won't get close enough to shoot their MG's at you. Just sit in the smoke and blast away.

Rushing the map edge, are we? Naughty ... naughty *g*. Doing that in two player human games can cause a fair amount of ill will. One of the oldest problems in wargaming is that there has to be a map edge somewhere and that artificial edge keeps the entering player from shooting the way he would in real life from "farther back". I have thought about putting a mystery super weapon in the game engine that would automatically fire from "off map" at any unit that got too close to the opposing map edge in "entry" type scenarios *g*.

TEAM FORCE FENWICK

1. That scenario [Task Force Fenwick] with the hastily mounted heliborne raid on the terrorist training camp scenario has got to be about the most gotched-up mess since the charge of the Light Brigade... I've been banging my head against that one for days .
2. Can TF Fenwick really be done with the starting forces?
3. I can't get the hang of TF Fenwick. I tried dozens of times, with all sorts of tactics, (blind rushes, slow sniper attacks, trying to engage the relief column first) and I've never cleared all the objectives nor totally defeated the relief column. Suggestions, please.
1.

That scenario [Task Force Fenwick] with the hastily mounted heliborne raid on the terrorist training camp scenario has got to be about the most gotched-up mess since the charge of the Light Brigade... I've been banging my head against that one for days .

The key to that scenario is proper use of the seemingly least powerful units in the Blue force the snipers.

2.

Can TF Fenwick really be done with the starting forces?

Yes. The key is maximum violence during the first few minutes of the scenario. Use your snipers to kill as many of the SAM gunners as you can in the first few minutes of the game. After the SAMs are gone, use the snipers against crew served weapons. Use priority targeting to force the snipers to go after the best targets first. While the snipers are working over the SAM gunners, use your arty support against the various crew served weapons positions to attrit and suppress them. In the first minutes of the scenario, bring all of your air support in at one time against the various crew served weapons positions to kill and suppress them. Once you have the SAM gunners out of the way, and the crew served weapons somewhat suppressed then lay smoke into the compound and bring in the troop helos. But don't just crash them into the middle of the compound *g* - put them down on a flank. As soon as the SAMs are gone, use a couple of helos to move your ATGM teams toward the East end of the map to be ready to ambush the OPFOR reinforcements.

3.

I can't get the hang of TF Fenwick. I tried dozens of times, with all sorts of tactics, (blind rushes, slow sniper attacks, trying to engage the relief column first) and I've never cleared all the objectives nor totally defeated the relief column. Suggestions, please.

Snipers, smoke, and air strikes are the keys. Use the snipers during the first three or four turns to clear one flank of the compound of all SAMs and machine guns. Then bring in all your air strikes to kill as many additional crew served weapons as possible. If you use them up rapidly at the beginning of the mission, you will probably get more before the enemy reinforcements arrive. Then lay smoke everywhere and bring most of your helos into the compound across the cleared flank at nap of the earth altitude. While you are mopping up the compound, use some of your helos to lay your ambush positions against the eventual enemy reinforcements.

TEAM GALLAGHER

1. I am having trouble with the Gallagher6 scenario. If you could offer any advise on this I would greatly appreciate it.
2. I've played the Gallagher 6 scenario a few times and although I've won every time I end up with hardly any tanks or brads left at the end of the scenario. Sometimes I have to use my Arty battery to ambush OPFOR BMPs at the end.
3. How are the scenarios balanced. In particular Gallagher? Are they balanced so the AI can win pretty 50% of the time, or are they balanced so a human OPFOR player could win 50% of the time?
4. One of the things that eludes me tactically in this game is how to flank another force with my own forces especially in Task Force Gallagher.
1.

I am having trouble with the Gallagher6 scenario. If you could offer any advise on this I would greatly appreciate it.

Try not to get into a direct fire battle with OPFOR until after you have attrited him heavily with your artillery. Set the engagement range of your units to zero so that they will quietly observe the approaching enemy instead of shooting at him and hit him just with arty for as long as you can. When you can't wait any longer then hit his leading units with ambushes that only last a volley or two. Then immediately fall your people back to a new position and do it all over again. Weaken him with arty ... then ambush him with short, violent spurts of direct fire ... then fall back. Repeat and repeat.

2.

I've played the Gallagher 6 scenario a few times and although I've won every time I end up with hardly any tanks or brads left at the end of the scenario. Sometimes I have to use my Arty battery to ambush OPFOR BMPs at the end.

Try doing the reverse - use your arty first/early in the game and preserve your ground units for use later, i.e. after the enemy formations have been weakened and broken up some.

3.

How are the scenarios balanced. In particular Gallagher? Are they balanced so the AI can win pretty 50% of the time, or are they balanced so a human OPFOR player could win 50% of the time?

I think someone recently asked a similar question and I think I answered it wrong the first time *grin*. My original intention was that scenarios would be primarily balanced for play between two humans having about the same skill levels. I just remembered that I suggested in the original manual or maybe it was in the FAQ file that an experienced player should add optional units to OPFOR when playing against the AI. Having said that, I am not willing to state that every scenario is in fact perfectly balanced for human vs human play. It seems reasonable that I would have been less than perfect in at least some of the 100+ scenarios that now exist *grin* also some of the enhancements that have been made to the game since its release have altered balance for some scenarios. The Team Kelley variants come to mind as being hopelessly unbalanced for human vs human play.

4.

One of the things that eludes me tactically in this game is how to flank another force with my own forces especially in Task Force Gallagher.

Flanking is hard to do in a tactical level game unless one side has only a very small force or a player gets careless.

Tactics need to be enemy oriented. What you want your troops to do and your timetable for them to do it is just a plan - what will actually happen is decided by what your enemy does or what he fails to do while you are executing your plan. Part of your problem with flanking may be that your opponent is careful - i.e. he puts out recon and flank security so that he knows what is happening on his flanks.

In TF Gallagher, OPFOR has to cross the map from East to West. OPFOR must come to the US

- OPFOR must go through the US defense. There is no need for the US player to move any unit except recon Eastward. I think most of your casualties have been the result of your maneuvering units toward OPFOR rather than laterally or rearward. The US player should not charge Eastward to duke it out with OPFOR. Rather the US player should establish observation posts to identify and track OPFOR's eastward progress. Once OPFOR's routes have been discerned then the US player should maneuver forces (out of sight of OPFOR) laterally and Westward to good ambush positions.

TEAMFORCE HENSON

1. I am working with TF Henson, ferrying all of the infantry around with Blackhawks, and I have a question about the unloading command on the delayed orders menu. It looks like it spills everyone out and take 30 seconds. Is there a way to have it just have the 'last' unit loaded get unloaded (just like your basic stack) or just have only one unit unload?
1.

I am working with TF Henson, ferrying all of the infantry around with Blackhawks, and I have a question about the unloading command on the delayed orders menu. It looks like it spills everyone out and take 30 seconds. Is there a way to have it just have the 'last' unit loaded get unloaded (just like your basic stack) or just have only one unit unload?

No.

TASK FORCE KINCAID

1. I was recently playing a game of Task Force Kincaid. I lost the most helicopters to some unknown missile from an APC, I think it was the BTR-80. But when I looked in the unit data base, none of the OPFOR APC's have SAMs. Is the BTR dismounting infantry that fire at my helicopters or what?
1.

I was recently playing a game of Task Force Kincaid. I lost the most helicopters to some unknown missile from an APC, I think it was the BTR-80. But when I looked in the unit data base, none of the OPFOR APC's have SAMs. Is the BTR dismounting infantry that fire at my helicopters or what?

The SAM being fired from the OPFOR APCs is the SA16 - a man portable, shoulder fired SAM. OPFOR fields enough of them to put a launcher in almost every rifle platoon. The SA16 gunner is conceptually firing from an open hatch or the roof of the APC.

TEAM KREMPP

1. [Team Krempp] What was the idea/thought behind this scenario?
2. [Team Krempp] Was there any historical thought behind it?
3. [Team Krempp] I personally would regard any company commander who ordered me to take such a position with the resources available in this scenario to be off his bloody rocker, and more interested in kissing $#%@ than looking after his soldiers.
4. I am unable to deal effectively with the Team Krempp scenario, against OPFOR entrenched infantry. My most recent attempts successfully eliminated enemy BTR80 APC's with Javelin ATGM units in short order. However, clearing OPFOR infantry squads escapes me.
1.

[Team Krempp] What was the idea/thought behind this scenario?

The original idea was as for most TacOps scenarios. A fair chance of winning for either player assuming skill parity. However, when the scenario was first designed, entrenchments were not as strong as they are now. After entrenchments were strengthened the scenario probably became more unbalanced in favor of OPFOR.

2.

[Team Krempp] Was there any historical thought behind it?

Nothing other than it seemed at the time to be nicely representative of a common small unit tactical problem. I think the uncommon thing about it is that since it is a game you have been provided with unrealistically accurate information before the engagement that reveals how difficult the problem is. It might not seem so unrealistic if the situation were one where you didn't realize how much 'was really up there' before you crossed the line of departure.

3.

[Team Krempp] I personally would regard any company commander who ordered me to take such a position with the resources available in this scenario to be off his bloody rocker, and more interested in kissing $#%@ than looking after his soldiers.

That is one possible explanation. Another is that the local tactical situation is so desperate that you must try to take this area at once and what you have is all that is available.

4.

I am unable to deal effectively with the Team Krempp scenario, against OPFOR entrenched infantry. My most recent attempts successfully eliminated enemy BTR80 APC's with Javelin ATGM units in short order. However, clearing OPFOR infantry squads escapes me.

When Team Krempp was designed, entrenchments were a lot weaker. The scenario may now be unbalanced. You have my encouragement to add some more units or arty to the US side during the setup turn - guilt free *g*.

TEAM MIZOKAMI

1. I've recently been playing TF Mizokami, and each game, the same extraordinary occurs. OPFOR guards manage to decimate my UH-60's, and Hummers at tremendous ranges with small arms. Just now I lost an entire assault company at a range of 1141 meters ... I think that I may have the deck thoroughly stacked against me, and if so, could you please let me know about it
1.

I've recently been playing TF Mizokami, and each game, the same extraordinary occurs. OPFOR guards manage to decimate my UH-60's, and Hummers at tremendous ranges with small arms. Just now I lost an entire assault company at a range of 1141 meters ... I think that I may have the deck thoroughly stacked against me, and if so, could you please let me know about it

The AI OPFOR gets no special benefits for its direct fire. The combat tables may be a bit unrealistic for ground small arms fire vs troop helos - I'll take a look at it. Sometimes though I have to give up realism in one area in order to preserve realism in a more important area. The larger lesson to be learned here is that one does not fly troop carrying helos in sight of enemy ground units - one does not take troop carrying helos into hot LZs. Were I to reduce the effectiveness of ground small arms against unarmored helos, I am afraid the game result would be that players would start landing troop carrying helos right on top of enemy units. That does not happen in real life even by accident - i.e. if the helos take fire from the LZ they abort the landing.

TEAM O'HARA SECTION

1. ...Team O'Hara. ...The problem is that I won with the message that OPFOR had not enough units to fullfill his victory conditions.... I had only killed 30%, though I did get 83% of the T80s. He did have alot of stranded men on foot who could not get of the West edge in time alloted. Any ideas?
1.

...Team O'Hara. ...The problem is that I won with the message that OPFOR had not enough units to fullfill his victory conditions.... I had only killed 30%, though I did get 83% of the T80s. He did have alot of stranded men on foot who could not get of the West edge in time alloted. Any ideas?

I have not had any reported problems with Team O'Hara. Sounds like the program checked the distance to the map edge for all units and just deduced that the game wining percentage could not make it there in time given the current situation.

TEAMFORCE PETERJOHN

1. TF Peterjohn intrigues me. Could this game ever be won by OPFOR?
2. Peterjohn is another good example though I have some doubts about its balance.
3. TF Peterjohn ... It seems to me that OPFOR is at a hopeless disadvantage with its lack of thermals and decent penetrators...
4. TF Peterjohn as OPFOR ...Any suggestions on successful tactics ?
1.

TF Peterjohn intrigues me. Could this game ever be won by OPFOR?

[Note: TF Peterjohn is a quasi historical Desert Storm scenario in which OPFOR has no thermal sights and only steel/tungsten penetrators so the US M1 tanks are pretty much invulnerable to frontal hits. It is not uncommon for skilled US players to eliminate three or four Iraqi battalions with the loss of only a few Bradleys.]

Probably not by the AI. There might be a chance if a human OPFOR player were to rush the town along the southern edge of the map in three or four close waves. Each wave should be about a battalion and should be about1000 meters wide and one marker in depth. The second and following waves should trail just far enough behind the wave in front of them so as to prevent an ICM salvo from straddling two waves. Tanks and APCs in the second and subsequent waves should pick up orphan infantry from vehicles lost in earlier waves as they advance through the wreckage. The more infantry that you can get into the town the better. The waves should not stop or maneuver to do the pickups however - just pick up what you are about to drive through anyway.

The US player's advantage in thermal sights and frontal armor would largely disappear in the point blank ranges of a city fight.

2.

Peterjohn is another good example though I have some doubts about its balance.

No reason to be in doubt. TF Peterjohn is absolutely unbalanced. Hard for a Desert Storm scenario to be otherwise with thermal equipped US units vs smoke blind Iraqi units. The main reason I finally did TF Peterjohn was to show a number of critics why I was not initially overly interested in doing Desert Storm scenarios *g*.

3.

TF Peterjohn ... It seems to me that OPFOR is at a hopeless disadvantage with its lack of thermals and decent penetrators...

Now you see why I was not initially motivated to do Desert Storm scenarios *g*.

The customer is always right - even when the customer is wrong *big grin*.

4.

TF Peterjohn as OPFOR ...Any suggestions on successful tactics ?

TF Peterjohn is a Desert Storm "what if" scenario in which OPFOR has an older model of T72 with only a steel or tungsten penetrator. Thus, the US M1 tanks are invulnerable to fire against their frontal armor and even flanking fire must be at close range in order to penetrate. OPFOR must disperse into a wide line and close rapidly with the US defenders. The wide line will increase the chance that some OPFOR tanks will get oblique or flanking shots at the M1s. It will still be a blood bath for OPFOR, but OPFOR has sufficient numbers to prevail (sometimes).

TEAM SPOSITO

1. During Team Sposito, an Mi24 fired 57mm rkts through an antithermal artillery smoke screen at a Dragon2 unit.
1.

During Team Sposito, an Mi24 fired 57mm rkts through an antithermal artillery smoke screen at a Dragon2 unit.

Not a bug. If the helo was at medium altitude then it may have been firing "over" the smoke. Smoke doesn't go as high now as it did before.

EXIT SCENATION SECTION

1. How do I exit forces from the map?
2. As I played the Task Force Fenwick scenario, I noticed that my percent of forces exited remained at 0, even as I was sweeping in and picking my guys up with the transport helos and flying them back to the "off map squares" in the upper and lower left corners of the map.
3. What is used as sucess criteria in "exit XX%" type scenarios? Is it a strict number of units removed?
1.

How do I exit forces from the map?

The outermost ten screen pixels of any map edge comprise an exit zone. On most maps, that exit zone is a gray, frame like, border. Order a unit to move onto the 10 pixel wide, gray border that surrounds most TacOps maps. Any unit sitting on that border at the end of a combat phase will exit the map and will be removed from play.

2.

As I played the Task Force Fenwick scenario, I noticed that my percent of forces exited remained at 0, even as I was sweeping in and picking my guys up with the transport helos and flying them back to the "off map squares" in the upper and lower left corners of the map.

The off map squares that you mentioned are not exit areas. They are artificially contrived administrative safe areas - i.e. places on the map to park your helos until they are needed for actually exiting troops.

3.

What is used as sucess criteria in "exit XX%" type scenarios? Is it a strict number of units removed?

No, it is the computed lethality value of the exited units.

In general, in TacOps, when I mention a "unit" I mean a "marker". A marker can represent one infantry squad/team up to a company. A marker can represent one vehicle up to a company. A marker can also include all the infantry embarked on the vehicles in the marker.

However, when a unit/marker is exited, the program counts its strength pts and multiplies that count by the Unit Lethality Value shown for that unit on pages 110 to 112 of the manual. A strength point is the smallest possible unit that a given marker type can be broken down into. For infantry units one strength point is one squad or one team. For vehicle units one strength point is one vehicle. For example. One M1 tank has a value of 100 points. If you exit a marker that represents 10 M1 tanks then the exit score for that unit/marker would be 10 times 100. Its exit score would be 1000. If you exist an APC marker then the exit score would include the computed values for all the APCs in the marker plus the computed values for all the infantry units being carried inside the APCs.

Units and Unit Tactics Chapter

DIRECT FIRE TRP (DFTRP)

1. Can you set the DFTRP at a point that the unit isn't even in, or does the unit have to be within the circle? I.e. if you have an M1 unit on elevated terrain overlooking low terrain, can you set the DFTRP to a point 1,500 meters away with a DFTRP radius of , say, 1,000 meters?
1.

Can you set the DFTRP at a point that the unit isn't even in, or does the unit have to be within the circle? I.e. if you have an M1 unit on elevated terrain overlooking low terrain, can you set the DFTRP to a point 1,500 meters away with a DFTRP radius of , say, 1,000 meters?

DFTRPs can be placed anywhere. The setting unit does not have to be within the circle. The answer to the M1 example is yes.

DF TRP means direct fire target reference point. It describes a circle around a point on the battle map. You specify the size of that circle when you set the DF TRP. When you set a DF TRP for a unit, you are ordering that unit to place its first priority on shooting at targets that are within that circle. The unit will look in that circle for targets before looking anywhere else. If you hold down the option key while setting a DF TRP then that unit will only shoot at units that are in that circle. Using DF TRPs is a TacOps implementation of a real world method of distributing weapons onto multiple likely target areas so that all the weapons in a defensive position don't by chance end up shooting at the same one or two targets at the same time.

DIRECT FIRE SECTION

1. I believe that the game does automatically reset the range of fire for units that have been fired upon to max.
2. When you set the TRP somewhere out at a range of 2000 feet with a radius of 500, but set your fire Control to zero, will it fire at the 500 foot radius 2000 feet away.
3. What is direct area fire? Like Kill Zones or something?
4. Can you use DF TRP against a non-firing entrenched unit?
1.

I believe that the game does automatically reset the range of fire for units that have been fired upon to max.

Correct - unless the unit has been give a 'hard' target priority.

2.

When you set the TRP somewhere out at a range of 2000 feet with a radius of 500, but set your fire Control to zero, will it fire at the 500 foot radius 2000 feet away.

Not unless the unit is fired on first. Whenever a unit is fired on, any existing" fire control box" range limit is reset to maximum range - however even then the DFTRP priority is not changed.

Remember though that the priority target buttons are absolute orders only when you make them "hard" priority orders. If a priority target button is used as a "soft" order then if the unit can not find a suitable target that matches any of the soft priorities it will then search for any target, anywhere.

3.

What is direct area fire? Like Kill Zones or something?

Direct area fire is a concept that is not in currently in TacOps.

Currently in TacOps most units can not just shoot at an area of ground (arty and mortars can). Currently most units have to see a target unit and have a reasonable chance of hitting and hurting it or else they won't fire at all.

A number of users would like to be able to order every type of unit to fire at points or small areas of ground even if no enemy unit is visible there yet - suppressive fires, recon by fire, that sort of thing. If implemented, this kind of fire would be no where near as effective as shooting at a visible unit but it might be useful once in a while and it would be (or at least would seem to be) somewhat more realistic in some situations.

4.

Can you use DF TRP against a non-firing entrenched unit?

Currently only visible/spotted units can be engaged with direct fire. I am planning on adding something to allow all units to fire on hidden/unspotted targets. Will be called "direct area fire" or something similar - will be controlled by a button in the unit orders window similar in operation to the "Set DFTRP" button. The fire will be unlikely to kill hard targets but it will be reasonably likely to suppress and occasionally kill soft targets. This will be a big change with a lot of code ripples and thus it is quite risky for inducing bugs. It will be a while before it is released.

AIRCRAFT SECTION

1. Am having problem with the AH-1 and AH-64...cannot get them to engage with the 20mm/30mm guns regardless of the range. They end up getting blown away by the infantry as soon as they run out of rocket pods. Any chance this a bug?
2. I can't seem to use that Apache effectively. They get shot down before they get a shot. How is the best way to get them to spot targets?
3. The US Air Strikes are almost always shot down (75 % +) once the bad guys get their SAM`s deployed in the right 1/3 of the map. As an very old USAF guy it seems to me that is unrealistic for hand held AA weapons.
4. As an old Air Force trooper I am disappointed in the air support. I keep losing most of my incoming strikes before they can do any damage. Am I doing anything wrong(probably at this point in my learning curve)? Any help here would be appreciated.
5. Can my cobra see over woods when at medium altitude?
6. Can a helo in TacOps conduct a "Pop up" attack? Hide behind a hill or woods pop up to med altitude fire a Hellfire and drop down to nap of the earth.
7. How much can a helo see at medium altitude?
8. Is there some feature to check this?
9. I was told after the fact by my opponent that a "trick" exists for [doing]15 second [helo] popups:
10. I was wondering whether you meant for the Cobra's 20mm cannon to be more effective than the Apache's 30mm. From the hit charts, the 20mm cannon is more likely to hit and seems to be consistently much more effective.
11. I was hoping for some advice and suggestions about the use of helos in TacOps. I've tried a couple of different techniques and I'm not quite sure if I'm missing something. ... I've landed away from the target, only to find that due to the slow speed of unmounted infantry it takes forever to actually get where I want to go. ... I've laid heavy smoke and ... basically send the fully loaded choppers crashing into their target area, unloading under heavy fire and taking heavy casualties to both choppers and infantry. Am I missing something? Is there some happy medium I haven't found yet?
12. One problem (bug perhaps Major?) is that if an OPFOR unit doesn't actually have smoke ON it, it will shoot at helo's even if they don't really have an LOS. For example, I dropped smoke all across the "southern" side of the base and left the northern end open. Although the ZU's and SA7 units had no LOS to the south, they still managed to take out my entire landing force. Be warned!
13. How can I get my helicopters to load all troops automatically? I don't want to land next to my troops and wait for the next turn to click the load button on 'orders' window. I'm afraid I'll get my copters all blown to h..l by artillery while they are on the ground.
14. I know there is an L button by the U button, but I can never get my copters to load or unload without going into the button menu in the extended orders portion of the orders window.
15. When there are six planes in the menu does the game engine stop determining if you receive additional air support until you use some of them?
16. Should an airstrike that does not drop munitions but instead sustains an attack (not necessarily a hit) from a helo come back as a normally aborted mission or is it eliminated from the queue of remaining air missions?
17. Lastly, even when a shoulder-fired [SAM] hits, it is often not catastrophic. I've now heard rumors of more than one aircraft landing during the Gulf War having been hit and not even realized it. Don't get me wrong however, anytime there's smoke in the air it gets your attention...make that your FULL attention, which is just how the Major has gamed it...
18. How can a helicopter at medium altitude see a unit over several reverse hillsides and behind more than 1K of trees, yet not be a target of a SAM attack, provided it is within maximum range of the missile?
19. it seems that helos at Medium can shoot (and see) through very long stretches of woods. I've had helos at Medium take out targets that are more than a kilometer within the woods (that is, the target is within a stand of trees, which is contiguous between the target and the helo.)
20. Do pop-up orders actually have to be given, or is the maneuver automatic?
21. ...the HIND is too heavy to employ this tactic [popup] in most density altitude conditions, and uses a standard running dive attack similar to Vietnam era US tactics...
22. I haven't found any method of simulating remote designation for Hellfire's.
23. When US helicopters fire, they are nearly always engaged by systems--such as the SA16-which should have trouble acquiring and engaging due to time constraints, ground clutter, and aircraft survivability equipment.
24. I haven't found any method of simulating remote designation for Hellfire's.
25. Do pop-up orders actually have to be given, or is the maneuver automatic?
26. I'm hopeless in managing airborne assault on offense. Do you have any suggestions? I'm sure it's something simple having to do with artillery assets but I'm just not getting it.
27. I haven't gotten the hang of air assaults yet.
28. I have generally found my air support to be fairly ineffective at killing armored units.
29. However, the other day I played a scenario and an OPFOR air strike hit a column of my mostly armored units. It destroyed 8-9 vehicles, almost all of them M1s. - Is this realistic?
30. Does OPFOR air support have better anti-armor bombs than I do?
31. I was depressed, because it turned a winning situation into a losing one. Maybe I was just unlucky... But it seemed pretty unrealistic.
32. An interesting observation was that about 70% of my kills came from the machine gun on the UH-60s. I was curious what they would do against infantry and BTRs. Turns out they were the most useful piece of equipment on the field. Major, I wonder if the kill rates for the 7.66 mm gun are too high. It outperformed the Apaches easily
33. Are landed helicopters susceptible to OPFOR air-to-air attacks?
34. can OPFOR ATGMs fire at NOE helicopters
35. Not having a whole lot of experience with helicopters, (none in fact) I was curious about the way NOE altitude worked. Does this mean the helos fly between the trees, or just above them?
36. 2. How does that affect LOS?
37. Are helos at NOE considered to be at the level of the terrain they're in?
38. Is there a spotting penalty for units trying to spot helos in NOE in a forest area?
39. Is there a movement penalty for moving in NOE vs Medium?
40. Do helos have a spotting penalty for being in NOE in woods?
1.

Am having problem with the AH-1 and AH-64...cannot get them to engage with the 20mm/30mm guns regardless of the range. They end up getting blown away by the infantry as soon as they run out of rocket pods. Any chance this a bug?

It is not a bug. It may be a poor design decision on my part *g*.

Here is the scoop. The game engine heavily penalizes the 20mm guns on the Cobra and the 30mm guns on the Apache vs targets that are in cover or in defilade (especially infantry targets in defilade or cover). The starting accuracy value for helo 20mm and 30mm guns is also currently a bit low in the game engine. The result of these factors is that the game engine will seldom fire these weapons at targets that are not fully exposed.

2.

I can't seem to use that Apache effectively. They get shot down before they get a shot. How is the best way to get them to spot targets?

Use the "15 second pop up technique". Try giving "move and pop up" orders that cause the helo to do the following: move at NOE altitude to a firing position that has a line of sight block between the helo and the suspected target area, order the helo to go to medium altitude (use the helo up orders button), stay there for 15 seconds (use the delay orders button), go back to NOE altitude (use the helo down orders button), and move away immediately to another pop up firing position. If you do this you should usually be able to get a "free" 15 second pulse for spotting and firing at the pop up point. If the helo spots a target when it pops up it has a very good chance of nailing it and getting away. If a helo stays visible to OPFOR SAM gunners or a ZSU for more than 15 seconds, it is in trouble - more than 30 seconds and you can kiss it goodbye. You should try to use your helos at the maximum range of their weapons. The closer your helos get to OPFOR the more things he has that can shoot them down, especially if the helos are hovering. Note that the AI remembers where it recently saw US units. If a helo is observed as it moved to its pop up firing position or if it tries to use the same pop up position twice in a short period then you may not get the surprise fire award.

3.

The US Air Strikes are almost always shot down (75 % +) once the bad guys get their SAM`s deployed in the right 1/3 of the map. As an very old USAF guy it seems to me that is unrealistic for hand held AA weapons.

I don't think it is unrealistic for today's weapons vs low level attacks. Although the game often shows aircraft as being "shot down" by hand held SAMs it would probably be more realistic to consider them as having been damaged or discouraged to the point where they had to/chose to leave the battle area.

4.

As an old Air Force trooper I am disappointed in the air support. I keep losing most of my incoming strikes before they can do any damage. Am I doing anything wrong(probably at this point in my learning curve)? Any help here would be appreciated.

You probably are not doing anything wrong. TacOps was designed to be a very hostile air environment. TacOps assumes that both sides have good medium and high altitude SAM coverage so the game currently models only low level air to ground attack. Most TacOps scenarios feature OPFOR formations that have a portable SAM in every platoon. The combination of these factors makes for a very hostile air environment. In most TacOps scenarios it will be difficult to get effective air strikes unless (1) you launch several missions in the same minute so as to provide more targets than the air defense can cope with or (2) you wait to use your air support late in a game after OPFOR (especially the SAMs) has been heavily attrited.

Also, if you are sending air strikes against large concentrations of tanks and APCs and you are not suppressing those formations with arty and you are not smoking units near but not in the target area during the turns leading up to the airstrike then you are also dealing with dozens of turret mounted heavy machine guns (suppression silences them as well as local SAMs). The heavy machine guns have less than a 1% chance of discouraging an airstrike, but if you are facing several dozen, that % starts to add up to a significant number.

Some game design philosophy...

TacOps does not model unconstrained air power because unconstrained air power in a tactical level game would guarantee victory to the side that had it - there would be no "game" to the game play.

Tactical air support is far more effective in real life than what seems to be shown by TacOps. The real world effectiveness of tactical air support is so great that it creates a serious problem in designing a tactical level, ground oriented game. If one side or the other has plenty of tactical air support and if the tactical environment is such that those assets are free to roam the battle area at the altitude of their choice then (1) that side is going to win any tactical ground engagement and

(2) there will be no incentive to employ ground assets in any role other than merely locating the enemy. In other words - a dead boring ground ops game *g*.

The focus of TacOps is ground ops. Since aircraft do not usually play a critical role in TacOps scenarios, the air support routines are very generalized. Aircraft are assumed to have executed an approach to target that gave them a reasonable chance both of hitting the target and of escaping effective ground observation and fire prior to the target. The scenarios do not generally contain aircraft in great quantities because in a tactical game if only one side has great air power the other side is guaranteed to lose and if both sides have significant air power then the game deteriorates into just hiding from aircraft. Such a game would be boring. I do have an item on the wish list to add the clicking of a map entry point and an attack path for aircraft to and from a ground target, but I don't know when I will get to it. The motivation for that change is not so much to increase the fidelity of the air play but rather to increase the fidelity of the ground SAM anti air play. Increasing the fidelity of the air play gets real complex real quick and would add greatly to the users workload when you consider all the variables involved in having the user specify the attack profile, bomb load, speed, height and angle of release, etc. and then all the game engine ripple effects of the variables of the different attack profiles on the response from ground to air weapons. The most likely result of having a skilled user do all that would be that he would end up with the same result over the target that the game now provides *g*.

5.

Can my cobra see over woods when at medium altitude?

Yes - from medium altitude it can see over woods but not necessarily into woods. You can confirm this for yourself by doing the following experiment. Load up the Basic Training scenario in two players on one computer mode. Select Options/Ignore Setup Limits. Use Options/Add One Unit to add a Cobra to the game. Place the Cobra west of some woods. Open the Cobra's Unit Orders Window and set it to be a medium altitude. Close the window.

Now select Orders/Do US Unit Orders and then Orders/Do OPFOR Unit Orders to change to OPFOR orders mode. Use Options/Add One Unit to add a T72 tank to the game. Place the tank well east of some woods but within 4000 meters of the Cobra. Give the T72 some movement orders to make sure that its visibility will be at max.

Now select Orders/Do OPFOR Unit Orders to exit the OPFOR orders phase and select Combat/Begin Combat Phase. You should see the Cobra engage the tank - over the intervening woods.

By the way, there is often a air to ground shadow area in the first 100 meters before woods terrain starts. If a ground unit is in this area it will sometimes not be visible to an enemy helo at medium altitude that is on the other side of the woods.

6.

Can a helo in TacOps conduct a "Pop up" attack? Hide behind a hill or woods pop up to med altitude fire a Hellfire and drop down to nap of the earth.

Yes. The technique follows.

A helo flying at NOE (nap of the earth) altitude has the same line of sight as a unit on the ground. A helo flying at medium altitude (the highest altitude in TacOps) can spot (and be spotted by) just about everything within 4000 meters. Try giving "move and pop up" orders that cause the helo to do the following: move at NOE altitude to a firing position that has a line of sight block between the helo and the suspected target area, order the helo to go to medium altitude (use the helo up orders button), stay there for 15 seconds (use the delay orders button), go back to NOE altitude (use the helo down orders button), and move away immediately to another pop up firing position. If you do this you should usually be able to get a "free" 15 second pulse for spotting and firing at the pop up point. If the helo spots a target when it pops up it has a very good chance of nailing it and getting away. If a helo stays visible to OPFOR SAM gunners or a ZSU for more than 15 seconds, it is in trouble - more than 30 seconds and you can kiss it goodbye. You should try to use your helos at the maximum range of their weapons. The closer your helos get to OPFOR the more things he has that can shoot them down, especially if the helos are hovering. For example, the 30mm automatic cannon on a BMP starts to be quite useful against hovering helos at around 2000 meters.

Note that the AI remembers where it recently saw US units. If a helo is observed as it moved to its pop up firing position or if it tries to use the same pop up position twice in a short period then the AI is going to be primed to fire on it - i.e. you may not get the surprise fire award.

7.

How much can a helo see at medium altitude?

Generally - everything and everywhere within 4000 meters.

8.

Is there some feature to check this?

Use the LOS method described above to pin the LOS tool as coming from a selected helo unitthat is at medium altitude.

9.

I was told after the fact by my opponent that a "trick" exists for [doing]15 second [helo] popups:

>Position helo in NOE Altitude, E0 >Remove all orders >Set altitude to Medium >click on the delayed orders 15 sec button >click on down 1 level button >scoot away at NOE and reposition

Again, that is not a "game trick". I specifically coded TacOps so that it would recognize that procedure so that game helos could replicate a standard real world attack tactic.

10.

I was wondering whether you meant for the Cobra's 20mm cannon to be more effective than the Apache's 30mm. From the hit charts, the 20mm cannon is more likely to hit and seems to be consistently much more effective.

Yes, no, and maybe *g*. It depends on what is being shot at. TacOps rates the Cobra's 20mm to be more effective vs infantry targets while the Apache's 30mm is rated to be more effective against armored targets. The 20mm gets a higher accuracy table and kills slightly more infantry per volley because it puts more lead in the air per volley/burst of fire. However the 20mm has much less penetrating power than the 30mm against armored targets.

11.

I was hoping for some advice and suggestions about the use of helos in TacOps. I've tried a couple of different techniques and I'm not quite sure if I'm missing something. ... I've landed away from the target, only to find that due to the slow speed of unmounted infantry it takes forever to actually get where I want to go. ... I've laid heavy smoke and ... basically send the fully loaded choppers crashing into their target area, unloading under heavy fire and taking heavy casualties to both choppers and infantry. Am I missing something? Is there some happy medium I haven't found yet?

No happy medium. Transport helicopters are very fragile beasts. The only reasonable tactic is to bring them in at nap-of-the-earth altitude and land them as close as possible but still out of the line of sight/fire of the enemy. The grunts then have to walk on in.

In the real world, helo pilots (not to mention their combat cargo) take a very dim view of crashing into the objective *g*.

"Forever" is a relative term. Remember - a TacOps turn only represents 60 seconds.

12.

One problem (bug perhaps Major?) is that if an OPFOR unit doesn't actually have smoke ON it, it will shoot at helo's even if they don't really have an LOS. For example, I dropped smoke all across the "southern" side of the base and left the northern end open. Although the ZU's and SA7 units had no LOS to the south, they still managed to take out my entire landing force. Be warned!

Not a bug. (a) From point A to point B, LOS between a ground unit and a helicopter can be different from what it would be from a ground unit to a ground unit - depends on the altitude of the helicopter. The LOS tool only shows ground to ground LOS. (b) Some anti air weapons have thermal or radar sights that can see through smoke.

13.

How can I get my helicopters to load all troops automatically? I don't want to land next to my troops and wait for the next turn to click the load button on 'orders' window. I'm afraid I'll get my copters all blown to h..l by artillery while they are on the ground.

You can use the delayed order button labeled "L" but you can't have instantaneous loading during a combat turn - that would be too unrealistic.

14.

I know there is an L button by the U button, but I can never get my copters to load or unload without going into the button menu in the extended orders portion of the orders window.

Probably because there is at least a 30 second delay for loading troops during the combat turn.

15.

When there are six planes in the menu does the game engine stop determining if you receive additional air support until you use some of them?

Yes - it stops checking for new air support - six missions is the most you can have "on hold" once you use one up, the game will start checking again.

16.

Should an airstrike that does not drop munitions but instead sustains an attack (not necessarily a hit) from a helo come back as a normally aborted mission or is it eliminated from the queue of remaining air missions?

Most likely, the airstrike will return to your Air Support Window, however there is a low chance that it will not. The following rules usually apply to air strikes. Airstrikes that drop bombs are always removed from play. Airstrikes that attack helos are usually, but not always returned to play. Airstrikes that abort due to effective fire are usually, but not always returned to play.

17.

Lastly, even when a shoulder-fired [SAM] hits, it is often not catastrophic. I've now heard rumors of more than one aircraft landing during the Gulf War having been hit and not even realized it. Don't get me wrong however, anytime there's smoke in the air it gets your attention...make that your FULL attention, which is just how the Major has gamed it...

Good point. It reminds me that TacOps was held up several weeks just before release because I was struggling with the ground to air and air to ground routines. Throughout most of the testing there were only two results - fixed wing destroyed or mission aborted - most of the time the result was aircraft destroyed. I don't remember this bothering the play testers but it bothered me greatly because there just was no historical justification for the high aircraft mortality that was in the game at that time.

I revisited all the technical references that I could find and even broke a personal rule and went out and bought every game I could find that had air rules. The games proved to be a washout because for the most part they had the same flaws that I felt the prerelease TacOps had, i.e. fixed wing aircraft were dropping like flies.

What I finally theorized was that modern aircraft in even high threat areas seldom get shot down

- in relation to the total number of sorties flown - but they frequently get discouraged and or handicapped. By discouraged I mean they miss the target. By handicapped, I mean that they are directed by higher authority or good pilot judgment to attack at altitudes/attitudes different from what would provide the best accuracy.

I decided to implement the following for fixed wing attacks. If a fixed wing sortie attacks a ground target and if there is ground to air defensive fire then the most likely thing to happen will be that the aircraft will unload and probably miss the target, the next most likely thing to happen is that the aircraft will abort the bomb run, actually hitting and or destroying the aircraft is the least likely thing to happen. To this I added a predictive quantification (a weight) of all the weapons that will be fired at the attacking aircraft. The more weapons that are fired and the more lethal the weapons, the more likely the various results will occur, but still in the relative order given. This is what I finally implemented in TacOps. I am not totally satisfied with it.

18.

How can a helicopter at medium altitude see a unit over several reverse hillsides and behind more than 1K of trees, yet not be a target of a SAM attack, provided it is within maximum range of the missile?

It can't unless it is doing a "15 second popup". In TacOps, helos at medium altitude can usually be seen by every unit within 4000 meters. However, target acquisition and firing is intentionally not guaranteed in TacOps. Units don't always shoot at targets even if they seem to be in plain sight. Also, the fidelity of air to ground and ground to air line of sight and combat is currently somewhat limited in TacOps due to the simplified nature of elevation and altitude in the game engine. When TacOps was under development a more realistic elevation/altitude model would not run on the older Macs at a satisfying speed - that will change.

19.

it seems that helos at Medium can shoot (and see) through very long stretches of woods. I've had helos at Medium take out targets that are more than a kilometer within the woods (that is, the target is within a stand of trees, which is contiguous between the target and the helo.)

Currently correct. I can't polish this out until I add more elevations and altitudes and a different LOS routine.

20.

Do pop-up orders actually have to be given, or is the maneuver automatic?

They have to be given. Try giving helo orders that cause the helo to do the following: using a path that is entirely out of sight of any enemy unit, move at NOE altitude to a firing position that has a line of sight block between the helo and the suspected target area, order the helo to go to medium altitude (helo up orders button), stay there for 15 seconds (delay orders button), go back to NOE altitude (helo down orders button), and move away immediately to another pop up firing position, the farther the better. If you do this you should usually be able to get a "free" 15 second pulse for spotting and firing. By the way, if you try to do two popups in a row from the same general vicinity you will probably lose the helo.

21.

...the HIND is too heavy to employ this tactic [popup] in most density altitude conditions, and uses a standard running dive attack similar to Vietnam era US tactics...

I have seen that analysis, I have also seen air show video of modern HINDs doing fast vertical popups.

22.

I haven't found any method of simulating remote designation for Hellfire's.

TacOps does not currently support laser target designators. In real life the Hellfire ATGM can travel 8000 meters but the Apache driver can't personally see and control the missile at anything much beyond 4000 meters. In order to get more than 4000 meters out of the weapon in the game, I need to add ground or air spotters equipped with laser designators. The way it would/should work is that an air or ground unit located closer to an armored target would light the target up with a laser beam. The lasing unit would then tell a distant Apache to lock and launch. The Apache might sense the laser spot and lock the Hellfire before launch or the pilot might just launch the missile in the right direction expecting it to find, lock, and home in on the laser spot on its own during flight. This is on the update wish list.

23.

When US helicopters fire, they are nearly always engaged by systems--such as the SA16-which should have trouble acquiring and engaging due to time constraints, ground clutter, and aircraft survivability equipment.

I have to do a certain amount of "averaging" in the game engine, especially with units like helos that operate in such radically different speed and attitude dimensions. Although TacOps shows 15 second combat pulses and 60 second combat turns I can't really model things exactly to the second. The best I can do and still keep the game playable is to expect that the combat outcomes of actions spread over several turns feels realistic.

24.

I haven't found any method of simulating remote designation for Hellfire's.

TacOps does not currently support laser target designators. In real life the Hellfire ATGM can travel 8000 meters but the Apache driver can't personally see and control the missile at anything much beyond 4000 meters. In order to get more than 4000 meters out of the weapon in the game, I need to add ground or air spotters equipped with laser designators. The way it would/should work is that an air or ground unit located closer to an armored target would light the target up with a laser beam. The lasing unit would then tell a distant Apache to lock and launch. The Apache might sense the laser spot and lock the Hellfire before launch or the pilot might just launch the missile in the right direction expecting it to find, lock, and home in on the laser spot on its own during flight. This is on the update wish list.

25.

Do pop-up orders actually have to be given, or is the maneuver automatic?

They have to be given. Try giving helo orders that cause the helo to do the following: using a path that is entirely out of sight of any enemy unit, move at NOE altitude to a firing position that has a line of sight block between the helo and the suspected target area, order the helo to go to medium altitude (helo up orders button), stay there for 15 seconds (delay orders button), go back to NOE altitude (helo down orders button), and move away immediately to another pop up firing position, the farther the better. If you do this you should usually be able to get a "free" 15 second pulse for spotting and firing. By the way, if you try to do two popups in a row from the same general vicinity you will probably lose the helo.

26.

I'm hopeless in managing airborne assault on offense. Do you have any suggestions? I'm sure it's something simple having to do with artillery assets but I'm just not getting it.

Helo assaults are not simple in real life. I would be very disappointed if they failed to be troublesome to you in the game *g*. Rules of thumb for helo assaults ...

  • Helos can move a lot of people great distances at high speed, but in the end the troops have to get out and walk the last kilometer or two.

  • Troop helos are not armored personnel carriers.

  • When troop helos get shot down, everybody dies.

  • Don't land helos in hot landing zones.

  • Helo landing zones must not be under enemy observation.

  • Use landing zone deception. Air approach lanes to landing zones should also not be under enemy observation. However, this is often not possible. If this not possible then let the enemy see you approach and appear to land your helos in many different landing zones, with perhaps only one or two of them being actual troop drop off spots. This assumes that although the enemy may see you approach a landing zone, he can not actually see what is going on once your helos land in the landing zone.

27.

I haven't gotten the hang of air assaults yet.

When doing your assault planning, think of transport helos as if they were bright yellow school buses *g*. If a plan doesn't feel like it would work for school buses then it probably won't work for transport helicopters either.

28.

I have generally found my air support to be fairly ineffective at killing armored units.

The air combat tables are virtually the same - US tables are slightly better. Could be because the AI often tries to disperse its units upon contact so that fewer clusters of vehicles exist within the effect radius of an air strike. Also lots of ground to air fire reduces the accuracy of an incoming air strike even if it does not down or abort the strike.

29.

However, the other day I played a scenario and an OPFOR air strike hit a column of my mostly armored units. It destroyed 8-9 vehicles, almost all of them M1s. - Is this realistic?

It is reasonably realistic with cluster bomb munitions and when you stack a lot of units in a very small area.

30.

Does OPFOR air support have better anti-armor bombs than I do?

No. Their air to ground tables are actually a bit weaker than the US tables.

31.

I was depressed, because it turned a winning situation into a losing one. Maybe I was just unlucky... But it seemed pretty unrealistic.

If you stack markers, if you congregate lots of people and vehicles within a few hundred meters, if you bunch up your units - you will be punished severely *g*. Happens that way in real life, so it happens that way in TacOps.

32.

An interesting observation was that about 70% of my kills came from the machine gun on the UH-60s. I was curious what they would do against infantry and BTRs. Turns out they were the most useful piece of equipment on the field. Major, I wonder if the kill rates for the 7.66 mm gun are too high. It outperformed the Apaches easily

The penetration of the 7.62 machine guns is something that continues to bother me but I have not yet resolved to change it. The 7.62 machine gun is quite effective against BTRs when using special armor piercing ammo but the universal availability of such ammo is debatable. Frankly, I am surprised that your Blackhawks could survive after getting close enough to use their machine guns. Everyone else complains that getting them anywhere near an OPFOR unit is virtual suicide.

33.

Are landed helicopters susceptible to OPFOR air-to-air attacks?

Yes. Upon arrival on the map, if fixed wing aircraft find a helicopter (landed or in the air)within 1000 meters of their assigned ground target they will switch to the helo and they will execute a gun attack.

34.

can OPFOR ATGMs fire at NOE helicopters

No. In TacOps, ATGMs can only fire at landed helos. Note that BMPs can fire their 30mm auto cannon at helos landed or in the air.

35.

Not having a whole lot of experience with helicopters, (none in fact) I was curious about the way NOE altitude worked. Does this mean the helos fly between the trees, or just above them?

In TacOps, if a helo flying at NOE altitude enters woods or town terrain, the helo rises one elevation level while over the woods or town - the helo flies over the woods or town terrain.

36.

2. How does that affect LOS?

It usually means a clear line of sight to the helo.

37.

Are helos at NOE considered to be at the level of the terrain they're in?

Yes, unless they are over woods or town terrain.

38.

Is there a spotting penalty for units trying to spot helos in NOE in a forest area?

No, because the helo is over the forest.

39.

Is there a movement penalty for moving in NOE vs Medium?

Not at present.

40.

Do helos have a spotting penalty for being in NOE in woods?

No.

SAM SECTION

1. What follows is the current game logic controlling the TacOps surface to air missile (SAM) implementation. Most of the logic sprang from advice provided in mid 1995 by members of the TBRSTABVDM (TacOps Blue Ribbon SAM Threat Analysis Board and Volunteer Day Marchers). The TBRSTABVDM actually existed *g*. In early 95 (the Mac only days) neither I nor a lot of TacOps users liked the SAM routines. A group of 20 or so enthusiasts argued about the topic via email for a couple of months and I then implemented the group's consensus in an update to the Mac version - that new code was/is included in the original/current Windows version.
1.

What follows is the current game logic controlling the TacOps surface to air missile (SAM) implementation. Most of the logic sprang from advice provided in mid 1995 by members of the TBRSTABVDM (TacOps Blue Ribbon SAM Threat Analysis Board and Volunteer Day Marchers). The TBRSTABVDM actually existed *g*. In early 95 (the Mac only days) neither I nor a lot of TacOps users liked the SAM routines. A group of 20 or so enthusiasts argued about the topic via email for a couple of months and I then implemented the group's consensus in an update to the Mac version - that new code was/is included in the original/current Windows version.

LINE OF SIGHT RULES.

Line of sight is determined for SAMs vs helicopters flying at nap of the earth altitude (NOE) in the same way as for ground units firing at ground units.

A clear line of sight is assumed to exist from a SAM launcher to a fixed wing airstrike or to a helicopter at medium altitude if there is no intervening woods or town terrain within 125 meters of the SAM launcher - or if a man portable SAM is dismounted in town terrain (assumed to be on a rooftop). Otherwise, if there is intervening woods or town terrain within 125 meters of the SAM launcher then the line of sight is usually blocked.

ACQUISITION AND TARGET EFFECT LOGIC.

SAM firing is a two step process. The first step is a target acquisition attempt. If acquisition is successful then the SAM is launched and a second step occurs in which the effect on target (if any) is determined.

STEP 1 - ACQUISITION LOGIC.

If there is a clear line of sight from the SAM launcher to the aircraft then the basic acquisition probability is 85%. The following cumulative percentage modifiers are then applied to the basic probability to determine the final acquisition probability. If the cumulative modifiers cause the acquisition probability to fall to less than 5% and if the SAM is not otherwise prohibited from acquisition then the final acquisition probability will be 5%.

If the SAM is a man portable weapon and is embarked aboard a vehicle: -20 for being mounted, -50 if the vehicle is moving, -70 if the vehicle is suppressed,-5 if in edge of woods, -5 if in edge of town, -50 if the SAM is in smoke, even if the SAM has a thermal sight. Man portable SAMs that are being carried in or on vehicles are limited to one target acquisition attempt per vehicle per fifteen second fire pulse. In other words, if you have more SAM's in a vehicle unit marker than there are vehicles, then the excess will not even attempt to acquire a target.

If the SAM is a man portable weapon and is dismounted: -30 if the SAM gunner is moving, 70 if the SAM gunner is suppressed, -5 if in edge of woods, -5 if anywhere in town, -50 if the SAM is in smoke, even if the SAM has a thermal sight.

If the SAM is not a man portable weapon (i.e. is permanently mounted on a vehicle): -30 if vehicle is moving, -50 if vehicle is suppressed, -50 if vehicle is smoked, even if the SAM has a thermal or radar sight, -5 if in edge of woods, -5 if in edge of town.

STEP 2 - TARGET EFFECT LOGIC.

Target effect percentages vary according to the model of SAM but in general ... Versus fixed wing targets. In the real world, fixed wing aircraft are seldom shot down by man portable SAMs or by small vehicle mounted SAMs, even in high threat environments - in relation to the total number of sorties flown - but they frequently get discouraged and or handicapped. By discouraged I mean they miss the target. By handicapped, I mean that they are directed by higher authority or good pilot judgment to attack at altitudes/attitudes different from what would provide the best accuracy. In TacOps, if there is SAM launch against a fixed wing aircraft then the most likely thing to happen will be that the aircraft will unload and probably miss the target, the next most likely thing to happen is that the aircraft will abort the bomb run actually hitting and or destroying the aircraft is the least likely thing to happen. If multiple SAMs are launched against a single airstrike, as each succeeding SAM is launched a bonus/cumulative modifier is applied to the chances that the aircraft will miss the target or abort.

Versus airborne helicopter targets. Small SAMs are very effective against helos. Accordingly in TacOps there is no discouragement result in SAMs versus helo engagements. The SAM either hits or it misses. If it hits, the helo will usually be destroyed.

STINGERS and SAMS SECTIONS

1. Can Stingers and SAM16 really shoot through smoke?
1.

Can Stingers and SAM16 really shoot through smoke?

I added the capability to engage through smoke primarily due to convincing testimony from an active duty US Army STINGER section leader. Another reason it was added was to eliminate a game trick - laying smoke and then parking Apaches in the middle of it for long periods of time.

UAV SECTION

1. UAVs don't give off enough heat to make targets for Stingers/SA16s
2. Jets seem to ignore UAVs
3. I have observed that the computer AI uses UAVs very poorly ..
1.

UAVs don't give off enough heat to make targets for Stingers/SA16s

I have differing notes on this, but the majority say a small recon UAV would be a tough target for a STINGER or SA16.

2.

Jets seem to ignore UAVs

In my opinion, jets move too fast to be able to consistently spot let alone down a small recon UAV. Picture an F16 chasing a model airplane *grin*.

3.

I have observed that the computer AI uses UAVs very poorly ..

I agree.

WHERE ARE THE A10s?

1. I know how insistent you are about this being a *tactical* game. I appreciate this approach but cannot figure out why there are no A10's. Seems of all the available fixed-wing aircraft in the US arsenal, these are the most "tactical" in nature.
2. Have I missed something? Is the A-10 represented in the arsenal available in TACOPS? I don't recall seeing it... why not?
1.

I know how insistent you are about this being a *tactical* game. I appreciate this approach but cannot figure out why there are no A10's. Seems of all the available fixed-wing aircraft in the US arsenal, these are the most "tactical" in nature.

There are two considerations on my putting A10s into TacOps ...

  • a. The main problem is that the A10 is unlike other fixed wing aircraft and it is unlike helos. Neither set of program routines are appropriate to simulating it. Requires a new targeting approach and huge blocks of new code. Don't know when I'll be able to get to it.

  • b. There is also a gaming or play balance consideration to the A10. A couple of A10s firing Mavericks at an 8 km standoff would tend to produce a turkey shoot in a tactical level game, as would A10 strafing runs in a permissive environment.

2.

Have I missed something? Is the A-10 represented in the arsenal available in TACOPS? I don't recall seeing it... why not?

A10s are on the wish list but will have to wait until I revamp/increase the fidelity of all the air support routines. The A10 ground attack profile with stand off munitions does not fit either the existing "generic" fixed wing code or the attack helo code. Requires a new targeting approach and huge blocks of new code. Don't know when I'll be able to get to it.

My thinking so far is for the A10 to be off map until it makes an attack run. To make an A10 attack, a player would designate a map edge entry point, a map edge exit point, and click a path on the map that reflected reasonable turn radius limits. The A10 would then either engage random units all along its path or such specific priority targets as specified by the user with the normal "Priority Target", "Target Type", and or "Target Reference Point" buttons in the Unit Orders Window. The A10 would likely be subject to anti air fire as it advanced along its flight path. If the A10 entered or exited the map across an "enemy" map edge, the mission would be subjected to a stiff off map anti air die roll before entry or after exit as appropriate.

There is also a gaming or play balance consideration to the A10. A couple of A10s firing Mavericks at an 8km standoff would tend to yield a turkey shoot in a tactical level game, as would strafing runs in a permissive environment. Unless one is playing a flight sim or an operational level game, where is the challenge in that?

Course, you realize that if I add A10s to the game, I will be duty bound to then give OPFOR the Frogfoot *g* - when the wheel turns, it tends to go all the way around.

STINGER SECTION

1. I little while ago I read a discussion (on this board) about Stinger Teams "riding on top" of APCs in TacOps. How is this done? Are any Stinger (or OPFOR SAM) teams loaded on an APC said to be riding on top?
2. If so, what does this do to their effectiveness vs. standing on the ground?
3. Or are you talking about a stationary APC with the Stinger team unloaded? (So they can fire and bug out.)
4. If a Stinger team is moving in foot, does this reduce their acquisition and hit probability?
1.

I little while ago I read a discussion (on this board) about Stinger Teams "riding on top" of APCs in TacOps. How is this done? Are any Stinger (or OPFOR SAM) teams loaded on an APC said to be riding on top?

In TacOps, a SAM gunner embarked in an APC can still fire his weapon at fixed wing aircraft and helos - you don't have to do anything to make this happen - even if the APC is moving. The game engine assumes that the SAM gunner is riding on top, standing in a hatch, or dismounting and firing from the short halt - whatever is appropriate.

2.

If so, what does this do to their effectiveness vs. standing on the ground?

In TacOps, a dismounted, stationary SAM gunner is significantly more likely to acquire a target, fire on a target, and or hit a target. Dismounting SAMs is particularly important in towns.

3.

Or are you talking about a stationary APC with the Stinger team unloaded? (So they can fire and bug out.)

That would be the best employment.

4.

If a Stinger team is moving in foot, does this reduce their acquisition and hit probability?

Yes, but not as much as would be the case if they were traveling in an APC.

STINGER SECTION

1. A platoon of T-80's overran a Stinger team, and the team took out two T-80's with their SAMS. Is this realistic?
2. Could a stinger be used as a short-range, ballistic weapon?
3. Could it "acquire" a tank?
4. Most importantly, could a Stinger warhead penetrate T-80 armor? Perhaps from the rear?
1.

A platoon of T-80's overran a Stinger team, and the team took out two T-80's with their SAMS. Is this realistic?

Driving directly over infantry units in TacOps can be hazardous to tankers *grin* however I am confident that the T80s were not killed by Stinger missiles. Check the unit info for Stinger teams and you will find that they usually also have a couple of AT4 disposable anti armor weapons (most US units do, same as most OPFOR units have some sort of disposable RPG launcher). I am sure that is what killed the T80s.

2.

Could a stinger be used as a short-range, ballistic weapon?

Maybe against a soft skinned vehicle in real life but not at all in TacOps.

3.

Could it "acquire" a tank?

Probably in real life but not in TacOps

4.

Most importantly, could a Stinger warhead penetrate T-80 armor? Perhaps from the rear?

No way - not in real life and not in TacOps.

INFANTRY SECTION

1. Major also says he "assumes in combat the men are constantly scanning 360 degrees," but it does seem that there should be some advantage to flanking them.
2. Maybe they would be less likely to see units to the side or rear, or maybe they shouldn't get the "under cover" deployment bonus if attacked from the side or rear.
3. Or am I wrong in assuming it actually takes several minutes and that during the time after a platoon fires off all its initial TOWs and is frantically reloading it is, shall we say, a sitting duck?
4. How do you (roughly) calculate weapon effectiveness against infantry?
5. For instance I have noticed that the OPFOR 100mm gun has pathetic range and penetration, which leads me to believe that it is a short barrel gun designed to attack infantry. Is it more effective? How much more?
6. do you think infantry ATGM teams (e.g. Javelin) would really be able to use their thermal sights to spot while on the move?
7. Do the spotting algorithms work differently for tanks than for infantry? In other words, does dismounted infantry spot better than tanks?
8. Playing the same scenario(Long one) I noticed that my infantry, especially the scouts, didn't have thermal sights? I thought that was standard now. Am I wrong or am I missing something.
9. Found a bug. In one of my games as the US player. I have 3 Infantry teams as a one unit. When I look at the Info menu, and see how much ammo they have, everything is multiplied by 3 EXCEPT the Smoke grenades. They only have 3, but 3 teams should have 9 Smoke grenades (i.e., 2 teams shows 3, but should have 6).
10. ...stormed through the town en masse to the objective. In the first game he had placed several entrenchments in the town (good defence) and I anticipated this and smoked the town for the duration of my assault....Two entrenched infantry units, one rogue Javalin team and one entrenched SMAW team killed ALL of my forces--he was getting close to 100% kills (including a 2 for 2 with his ATGM's at just over 100m) and I tried to keep the engagement ranges over 75m. Neither SMAW's nor the infantry's LAAW's have thermals so how was he able to do this?
11. (I assume that the Javelins LAAW's are treated as having thermals even though they really shouldn't)
12. Does this [infantry SAMs firing from APCs] imply that all troop carrying vehicles, which have hatches or openings of some sort, will allow the troops inside to fire at appropriate targets.
13. If a HMMMV was carrying a Javelin team, would the Javelin fire at vehicle targets?
14. How does one find out for sure if a vehicle can allow this or not?
1.

Major also says he "assumes in combat the men are constantly scanning 360 degrees," but it does seem that there should be some advantage to flanking them.

I think that flanking rules should not be based on thinking that infantry are fatally less alert to their sides and rear. Rather the rules should be tied to conceptual assumptions about the terrain that the unit is in and how infantrymen will utilize that terrain for cover. When possible, infantry pick hasty positions that offer the best field of fire to the expected approach direction of the enemy and that offer the best protection from fire and observation across the expected approach direction of the enemy. It often, but not always, happens that such hasty positions don't offer as much advantage when approached from the side or rear.

2.

Maybe they would be less likely to see units to the side or rear, or maybe they shouldn't get the "under cover" deployment bonus if attacked from the side or rear.

With regards to receiving direct fire... For infantry units receiving direct fire, the defilade defensive modifier applies for 360 degrees. For vehicles receiving direct fire, who are not entrenched, the defilade defensive modifier only applies for fire coming through the unit's frontal facing and through one facing 'click' (45 degrees more or less) left and right of frontal. For example - if a vehicle is in defilade and it is facing due North, it will receive a defilade defensive modifier if it receives direct fire from the North, from the Northwest, or from the Northeast. The unit would not receive a defilade defensive modifier if it received fire from any other direction. For vehicles receiving direct fire, who are entrenched, the defilade defensive modifier applies for 360 degrees.

3.

Or am I wrong in assuming it actually takes several minutes and that during the time after a platoon fires off all its initial TOWs and is frantically reloading it is, shall we say, a sitting duck?

You are correct in your assumption - if the unit fails to withdraw to a covered position after every launcher in the unit marker has fired its two missiles then it is a sitting duck for a couple of minutes. I have received a fair number of saved games from folks as 'bug reports' where they had a platoon of Bradleys or LAVs that was wiped out by OPFOR 'without firing a shot'. Upon inspection, in every case, the Bradleys or LAVs had fired all their missiles in a previous turn and were in effect reloading in plain sight of the enemy because the player had failed to have them 'shoot and scoot'.

4.

How do you (roughly) calculate weapon effectiveness against infantry?

Each weapon that can be used against infantry has its own "vs infantry" combat results table that expresses casualties per volley as a percentage of personnel in the target infantry unit and or in the area around the target infantry unit. The values in that table are modified before application by a number of situational modifiers - the most important of which is the target unit's tactical disposition.

5.

For instance I have noticed that the OPFOR 100mm gun has pathetic range and penetration, which leads me to believe that it is a short barrel gun designed to attack infantry. Is it more effective? How much more?

I assume you mean the 100mm gun on the BMP3 - it is actually quite long. There is not much publicly available info on the BMP3. What I have read suggests to me that the main purpose of the 100 mm gun is to serve as a launcher for a 100mm ATGM to be used at long range against armored targets weaker than tanks - i.e. IFVs and APCS. Given the small size of the BMP3 turret and the absence of a significant counterweight on the back of the turret, I don't think the tube on the 100mm gun can be very heavy. A 100mm barrel would have to be very heavy in order to be able to handle the tube pressures of firing any sort of traditional shell. Therefore if the 100mm gun has an anti-infantry round, it seems to me that it would need to be some sort of RPG [rocket propelled grenade] like round. That is what TacOps assumes.

6.

do you think infantry ATGM teams (e.g. Javelin) would really be able to use their thermal sights to spot while on the move?

Not really, but the coding compromise that allows this to appear to happen greatly enhances playability. I think it has little if any effect on the game's combat results. Most units in TacOps move a bit slower than they would in real life - part of this is to build in a time fudge factor to take care of things like an ATGM team pausing briefly to take a look around through the thermal sight. If TacOps was a man or squad level game I would be more concerned with things like this.

7.

Do the spotting algorithms work differently for tanks than for infantry? In other words, does dismounted infantry spot better than tanks?

Yes & yes.

8.

Playing the same scenario(Long one) I noticed that my infantry, especially the scouts, didn't have thermal sights? I thought that was standard now. Am I wrong or am I missing something.

Passive image intensifiers for night use only and powered by small batteries are pretty standard (i.e. starlight scopes) but thermal sights are not standard at all yet for infantry except as sighting devices for ATGMs. Portable thermal sights are still extremely expensive and not really very portable.

9.

Found a bug. In one of my games as the US player. I have 3 Infantry teams as a one unit. When I look at the Info menu, and see how much ammo they have, everything is multiplied by 3 EXCEPT the Smoke grenades. They only have 3, but 3 teams should have 9 Smoke grenades (i.e., 2 teams shows 3, but should have 6).

Not a bug. That is how I intended smoke grenades to work.

10.

...stormed through the town en masse to the objective. In the first game he had placed several entrenchments in the town (good defence) and I anticipated this and smoked the town for the duration of my assault....Two entrenched infantry units, one rogue Javalin team and one entrenched SMAW team killed ALL of my forces--he was getting close to 100% kills (including a 2 for 2 with his ATGM's at just over 100m) and I tried to keep the engagement ranges over 75m. Neither SMAW's nor the infantry's LAAW's have thermals so how was he able to do this?

There are a couple of things at work here. (1) Armored units that try to drive directly over/through unsuppressed infantry will be punished *g* - modern infantry are not just speed bumps. (2) Once TacOps units get within 125 meters of each other, they can often see each other through smoke whether they have thermals or not. 125 meters or less in TacOps is generally considered to be "point blank range".

11.

(I assume that the Javelins LAAW's are treated as having thermals even though they really shouldn't)

Correct. At present in TacOps, any thermal sight in a marker allows that marker to fire all its weapons into/through smoke, however the weapons will still get a degraded "to hit" chance for the smoke. This was done to satisfy comments from users and testers that "hey, the guy with a thermal sight in that marker could be telling the other guys to fire in a general direction".

12.

Does this [infantry SAMs firing from APCs] imply that all troop carrying vehicles, which have hatches or openings of some sort, will allow the troops inside to fire at appropriate targets.

No. Currently only portable SAMs can fire from hatches. All other portable infantry weapons have to dismount from APCs in order to fire. I made the special exception for SAMs because firing SA16s from an open hatch is OPFOR doctrine and because US Stinger gunners are also able, trained, and expected to do so.

13.

If a HMMMV was carrying a Javelin team, would the Javelin fire at vehicle targets?

No.

14.

How does one find out for sure if a vehicle can allow this or not?

SA16s and Stingers are the only man portable weapons that can be fired from a vehicle without being first unloaded.

SCOUT SECTION

1. I've noticed that Recon and Sniper teams have better spotting than anyone else. And I know that when FO teams observe fire, the accuracy goes up twice as fast. But do Scout teams have any advantages?
2. What's the use of having a special unit if it has no special properties?
1.

I've noticed that Recon and Sniper teams have better spotting than anyone else. And I know that when FO teams observe fire, the accuracy goes up twice as fast. But do Scout teams have any advantages?

'Scout teams' have no advantages in TacOps.

2.

What's the use of having a special unit if it has no special properties?

The 'Scout team' marker was originally provided just as a dismount team for the M3 version of the Bradley. Just as an aside - recon and sniper markers should be added to scenarios very sparingly. They represent elete level training and experience.

SNIPER SECTION

1. Is there a special use for the sniper and recon teams?
2. Finally, you mentioned that sniper/recon teams were "invisible" in most circumstances unless they fired for more than one minute from the same location (within 100m). If I fire for a minute, then hold fire for a minute, then fire again, am I still "50% probable" to be spotted? What if I hold fire for two minutes between firings? ... In TF Fenwick I had some folks in a pretty good location and didn't want to move them
1.

Is there a special use for the sniper and recon teams?

They are able to spot enemy units at greater ranges than other units. They are much harder to spot than are other units. They usually hit and kill one person per shot for any personnel target that they engage. They usually won't be spotted if they fire for only one minute or less and then move to another location.

2.

Finally, you mentioned that sniper/recon teams were "invisible" in most circumstances unless they fired for more than one minute from the same location (within 100m). If I fire for a minute, then hold fire for a minute, then fire again, am I still "50% probable" to be spotted? What if I hold fire for two minutes between firings? ... In TF Fenwick I had some folks in a pretty good location and didn't want to move them

Regardless of the time between firings, you have to move the sniper at least 100 meters in order to get future awards of max "invisibility". I have to be very restrictive with snipers in TacOps to prevent game tricks and abuse. Otherwise, they could very easily turn into super unrealistic Rambo units. In modern sniperdom, there is no such thing as a good position once one round has been fired. If snipers shoot, they move. Sniper teams are small and alone, they can not cover enough ground with troops to have meaningful flank security, they do not really know what is going on around them. To survive, they have to always assume that an enemy unit/patrol has just wandered into a nearby position.

TANKS SECTION

1. How do I use Tanks? They keep getting blown away by OPFOR ATGM
2. My problem lies herein. OPFOR T 80s have a definite edge on my M1A1s.
3. Is the T80 supposed to have a superior fire control system to the M1?
4. In my play of TacOps I have found that when M1s and T 80s meet in a neutral manner the T 80 hits and kills with a much higher efficiency than the M1.
5. In order for my M1A1s to effect a defeat on a squad of T 80s I need to be in a prepared, i.e.: carefully deployed position ...
6. When I give opfor improved ATGMs am I also giving opfor improved penetrators and fire control?
7. How does an OPFOR force approach and get through a US armor unit?
8. The second is really much the same as the first. I'm often struck by the extraordinary abilities that tanks and IFVs, both US and OPFOR, seem to have when it comes to observing and engaging multiple targets in a single minute/turn, regardless of the targets' bearing. It seems to be limited only by the unit's rate-of-fire, and the changes in direction, ranges and target attitudes involved are often hard to believe. In multi-vehicle units such as tank platoons, it's easier to imagine because, I assume, different vehicles may be covering different arcs of fire. But with single vehicle units, well, it's a little like the thing with shoulder-fired SAMs, and when it occurs in combat situations where you know the vehicle is or should be buttoned up, it's even more of a stretch.
9. What is happening when my M1s are shooting up OPFOR infantry concealed in smoke? I can perhaps understand the coax gun engaging infantry in smoke, but the other .50 cal and 7.62mm need some explaining. Men using such machine guns would have to be using goggles-types thermal sights to spot the OPFOR grunts, no?
10. I was rolling over a OPFOR infantry platoon in a forest ... the tank commander is firing his .50 cal MG at the enemy during a firefight that was "point blank" ...I suspect that in such close terrain tank commanders who did so would take very heavy losses and would rather just keep spraying bullets with the coax gun. What are your thoughts on this?
11. The M1's in real life, especially the latest version of it, the M1A2, are extremely hard to destroy. Read Tom Clancy's book Armored Cav and you'll read some interesting happenings in the Gulf War, where T-72's pounded one M1 but never penetrated. I think the M1 should be more like this in the game.
1.

How do I use Tanks? They keep getting blown away by OPFOR ATGM

MKRobel1 at cs.com

Sun Dec 2 14:00:53 GMT 2007

Tanks should "never" be used by themselves. They should always be employed with infantry. While moving, there is a lot of debate, but I prefer to move in Wedge, like so:

T H M --> T

Where T = Tank Platoon, H=Headquarters, and M = Mech Infantry

This is best when you dont know where the enemy is. The distance between the Tanks and the Mech should be about 1500 meters or a terrain feature, so that the tanks can shoot beyond the infantry and suppress.attack by fire anyone attempting to molest them.

If I knew a little more about what was going on, I would move in V

M T H --> T

Where the Mech Platoon went depended on the ground. If the left was wooded, they were on the left, etc.

If you are Mech Heavy, then you adjust accordingly. Mech guys like to put the tanks out front and overwatch with the infantry. Problem with that is it restricts your bounds due to the smaller range of infantry weapons and the fact that TOWS are slow and limited in number and not suitable for suppressive fire.

When attacking, think first about how you want to end up on the objective after everything is finished.

When sweeping the objective if you are sweeping North, and you are recieving fire from the east, this is what you should do:

^ | | T(O) M T D

Where the (O) = an overwatch or support by fire position, and D = Dismounts

When assaulting the objective, you can dismount short of the objective and have the infantry walk (no more than 500 - 1000 M, if you can avoid it), dismount on the objective, or beyond the objective and walk back.

Also when attacking, I advocate going in under your own prep. So, the prep must be timed to end to coincide when you arrive onthe objective. HE and Smoke, as coming in under your own DPICM is a little dicey. This way hopefully, the enemy is still in his holes and buttoned up when you get there. TO have the prep end too early means he will recover and be ready to recieve you.

If you are playing with Strykers, move in short bounds and dismount all the time. They are not robust enough to move in long bounds and resist enemy fire. Plus, they haver more Javelines than Krosus has gold.

Always move in bounds, with at least 3 platoons supporting one platoon moving. Sometimes, I move one platoon and have the rest of the battalion in overwatch.

And, when you run into a sh*tstorm with your scouts, stop them and move the tanks and infantry into position... Use the scouts to watch another avenue of approach or look for a bypass.

Hope this helps

Mike Robel

2.

My problem lies herein. OPFOR T 80s have a definite edge on my M1A1s.

There is no edge in favor of the T80s . I double checked the code - the accuracy of the T80 is not greater than that of the M1 and is less around the 1500 range point - still it amounts to the T80 in TacOps being about the same as the M1 in most situations. In looking at the accuracy info in the data base on the T80 and T72 I noticed that both weapons are given the same advanced fire controls. If you want a less capable OPFOR tank you can use the "Change Menu" to switch to the 1991 Iraqi T72. Reminder ... the TacOps accuracy tables reflect overall reductions in accuracy from what is possible on a training range.

3.

Is the T80 supposed to have a superior fire control system to the M1?

Similar, but not superior.

4.

In my play of TacOps I have found that when M1s and T 80s meet in a neutral manner the T 80 hits and kills with a much higher efficiency than the M1.

I checked the code again and did not find anything that would cause this effect. My perception is that in neutral situations the exchange seems to be equal.

5.

In order for my M1A1s to effect a defeat on a squad of T 80s I need to be in a prepared, i.e.: carefully deployed position ...

That is the intended effect. Surprise fire is rewarded. Firing first is rewarded. Firing from cover is rewarded. Gentlemanly, nose to nose exchanges are not rewarded *g*.

6.

When I give opfor improved ATGMs am I also giving opfor improved penetrators and fire control?

After checking the code, I found that for the T80 and T72 tanks, the improved penetrator (DU) and improved fire control is built into the basic tank unit. If you want less accuracy you need to change to the 1991 Iraqi T72. If you want less penetration from the Russian 125mm tank gun you need to change to a steel or tungsten penetrator.

7.

How does an OPFOR force approach and get through a US armor unit?

By sheer force of numbers at the point and instant of decision. You use whatever benefit you can get from observation, deception (i.e. supporting attacks), and terrain masking to get as close as possible to the defender before exposing yourself. When you reach that point, you just charge. Try to attrit the defenders as much as possible with available supporting arms during the approach and then maintain the shelling where ever possible through the assault to reduce the accuracy of the fire coming from the defenders.

8.

The second is really much the same as the first. I'm often struck by the extraordinary abilities that tanks and IFVs, both US and OPFOR, seem to have when it comes to observing and engaging multiple targets in a single minute/turn, regardless of the targets' bearing. It seems to be limited only by the unit's rate-of-fire, and the changes in direction, ranges and target attitudes involved are often hard to believe. In multi-vehicle units such as tank platoons, it's easier to imagine because, I assume, different vehicles may be covering different arcs of fire. But with single vehicle units, well, it's a little like the thing with shoulder-fired SAMs, and when it occurs in combat situations where you know the vehicle is or should be buttoned up, it's even more of a stretch.

Modern weapons, in the hands of well trained crews, have a very great ability to rapidly and accurately engage targets. I see this as one of the biggest changes from the WWII/Korea era. Also, currently TacOps uses the same routines for multi unit markers as for single unit markers. This is why I periodically emphasize to folks that routinely breaking units down into individual squads/vehicles will introduce realism quirks. This may change in the future.

9.

What is happening when my M1s are shooting up OPFOR infantry concealed in smoke? I can perhaps understand the coax gun engaging infantry in smoke, but the other .50 cal and 7.62mm need some explaining. Men using such machine guns would have to be using goggles-types thermal sights to spot the OPFOR grunts, no?

It is a speed and coding compromise. The game engine does not currently link a unit's thermal sights to the exact weapon subsystems in that unit. To do so, I would need to flag a thermal bit for every weapon in a unit and I don't have any spare bits left in the unit record structure. To do this perfectly realistically I would also need to add some code to arbitrate using the thermal sight of one weapon to adjust fire of another weapon on target by using impact observation, teamwork, and "Kentucky windage". At present, I don't think the problem is game significant but it is on the list of things to be someday polished out.

10.

I was rolling over a OPFOR infantry platoon in a forest ... the tank commander is firing his .50 cal MG at the enemy during a firefight that was "point blank" ...I suspect that in such close terrain tank commanders who did so would take very heavy losses and would rather just keep spraying bullets with the coax gun. What are your thoughts on this?

If the tank becomes suppressed, any external weapons will stop firing. You are right though that doing so in the first place is debatable. Good example of why I periodically remind folks that TacOps is not suitable for gaming "squad leader" type actions or for looking for "squad leader" type detail.

11.

The M1's in real life, especially the latest version of it, the M1A2, are extremely hard to destroy. Read Tom Clancy's book Armored Cav and you'll read some interesting happenings in the Gulf War, where T-72's pounded one M1 but never penetrated. I think the M1 should be more like this in the game.

A valid historical point, however Desert Storm was four years ago. At that time the Iraqis were firing steel and tungsten penetrators, they had no thermal sights to work through darkness and the oilfield smoke, and their tank fire control systems were substandard - in effect they were not only blind but were outranged by close to two thousand meters. Any industrialized country that wants to and can afford to spend the money can field tanks today, including T72s and T80s, with staballoy/depleted uranium penetrators, thermal sights, and advanced fire control systems. Still, if you want the M1s to be invincible just substitue the T72 IQ91 for the T80s or T72s in the scenarios, don't give thermals to OPFOR, and don't give OPFOR advanced ATGM warheads.

ATGM SECTION

1. If an ATGM shooter is fired on while the missile is in flight does the chance for a miss go up?
2. Anyone have any idea by what is meant by 'Improved ATGM warheads'. Are there plans to improve OPFOR's ATGM warheads?
3. My question is, does anyone have any idea if ATGMs are really as effective in real life as TacOps makes them seem?
4. Does anyone out there have any other stories about ATGMs they could pass along to us tyros?
5. I was playing a game of TF Davis the other night, I trigger my initial salvo of Bradleys versus the in coming OPFOR. Blam-Blam each Bradley only fires its ATGMs twice, at 15 and 30 seconds, then they switch to their cannons! I suspect this might be by design, but don't know what the reason for it is?
6. Can ATGM shoot over rivers
7. if so is there any penalty for doing so.
8. why can't anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM's) be fired at helicopters? It seems to me that anything that will "home" on a tank should very happily "home" on a helicopter, especially one that is hovering in plain view 1 or 2 km away.
9. Will ATGMs fire against hovering enemy choppers? I can't get my BMPs to fire ATGMs at hovering US choppers.
1.

If an ATGM shooter is fired on while the missile is in flight does the chance for a miss go up?

Yes.

2.

Anyone have any idea by what is meant by 'Improved ATGM warheads'. Are there plans to improve OPFOR's ATGM warheads?

Basically it means warheads that are up to Western standards for their size - exotic charge liners, tandem warheads - in general more expensive and more modern ordnance technology. Improvements that OPFOR could reasonably make if OPFOR were willing and able to spend the time and money. The improved equipment for OPFOR is optional, but not using it makes for rather boring game play if the US player has any M1 tanks and it is hard to find a PBEM opponent willing to take the OPFOR side without the "good stuff" *g*.

3.

My question is, does anyone have any idea if ATGMs are really as effective in real life as TacOps makes them seem?

OPFOR ATGMs are probably not yet as effective as the TacOps "i" models. The TacOps ATGM "i" model is what you get when you choose to set the preference "Improved OPFOR ATGM warheads".

4.

Does anyone out there have any other stories about ATGMs they could pass along to us tyros?

My reading of Desert Storm materials indicates that whatever a US TOW ATGM hit, it killed. The Iraqis were apparently using old SAGGER ATGMs, and the few that managed to hit US M1 tanks only burned the paint.

5.

I was playing a game of TF Davis the other night, I trigger my initial salvo of Bradleys versus the in coming OPFOR. Blam-Blam each Bradley only fires its ATGMs twice, at 15 and 30 seconds, then they switch to their cannons! I suspect this might be by design, but don't know what the reason for it is?

Is intentional. The Bradley TOW ATGM launcher is mounted on the outside of the vehicle and only contains two missiles. Once both have been fired they must be manually reloaded through a hatch in the roof of the Bradley's hull. It takes a couple of minutes to do the reload so if your Bradley's in TacOps fire both ATGMs in rapid succession then it will be a minute or two before they will be able to fire missiles again. LAVATs and BMPs have similar reload constraints.

6.

Can ATGM shoot over rivers

Yes.

7.

if so is there any penalty for doing so.

No.

8.

why can't anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM's) be fired at helicopters? It seems to me that anything that will "home" on a tank should very happily "home" on a helicopter, especially one that is hovering in plain view 1 or 2 km away.

I consider this to be a waste of very expensive and scarce ammo. If I added it to the game, I would then need to add some sort of automatic dodge response for a helo subjected to incoming ATGM fire. Most likely I would give the helo a very great likelihood of successfully dodging the relatively slow moving ATGM. The most likely result would then be the sudden appearance of a "game trick" - i.e. preceding assaults with hovering helos to soak off/waste enemy ATGMs.

9.

Will ATGMs fire against hovering enemy choppers? I can't get my BMPs to fire ATGMs at hovering US choppers.

TacOps ATGMs will not fire at a hovering helo. They will fire at a landed helo. This was done as a game play compromise. There were two reasons for it. (1) If I allowed ATGMs to fire on helos I would need to allow helos to take evasive action upon the launch. 99% of the time the helo would escape - any other result would be unrealistic in my opinion. I didn't see any justification for putting in a lot of code to handle something that was not going to end up being game relevant and I also felt that players would be annoyed at the wastage of valuable ATGMs that would occur. (2) More importantly, an unsporting player could display a hovering helo for no other reason than to trigger and exhaust his opponent's ATGMs.

DIRECT FIRE TRP SECTION

1. ...trying to figure out the DF TRPs...
2. Who gets shot at for each of these three situations?
3. More than a few times I've wanted to set a target unit type at a point when no unit of that type was visible. (In particular, I often seem to have units catch sight of a SAM unit sometime during a move only to have it be invisible at the end of the move when I can change orders.) Does anybody know a way to set a unit type when there isn't a unit of that type visible at that moment?
4. ...trying to figure out the DF TRPs...
5. Who gets shot at for each of these three situations?
6. More than a few times I've wanted to set a target unit type at a point when no unit of that type was visible. (In particular, I often seem to have units catch sight of a SAM unit sometime during a move only to have it be invisible at the end of the move when I can change orders.) Does anybody know a way to set a unit type when there isn't a unit of that type visible at that moment?
7. Many times I want my unit to concentrate on the closest unit, not battle it out with units all over the map. I suppose I can probably do this with some sort of constraint - but to be honest, I haven't completely figured this out yet. Still, I don't want my units wasting shots on low probability kills when there are closer units.
1.

...trying to figure out the DF TRPs...

The three priority targeting buttons in the Unit Orders Window are considered by the program according to the following rules:

  • (1) The three priority targeting buttons are evaluated by the program in the same order as their left to right order in the Unit Orders Window: Target Unit, then DF TRP, then Target Type.

  • (2) However, hard orders will be considered before soft orders.

  • (3) If a soft order can not be fulfilled then the program looks at the next priority button.

  • (4) If a hard order can not be fulfilled then the program stops looking.

2.

Who gets shot at for each of these three situations?

  • 1. No unit priority, soft DF TRP, soft type priority (T80 for the example): Only a BTR in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP. I'm guessing the BTR, but the example in the users guide didn't say what happens if there was something in the TRP.

  • The BTR will most likely be shot at because the soft order DF TRP is checked before the soft order target type. If the T80 had been in the TRP, the T80 would have been shot at since it would have met both priorities while the BTR only met one priority.

  • 2. No unit priority, hard TRP, hard type priority (again a T80): Only a BTR in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP.

  • Neither unit will be shot at (probably). By setting a hard TRP and a hard target type you in effect said "Shoot only at T80s that are in the DF TRP".

  • 3. No unit priority, hard TRP, hard type priority (surprise! a T80): Nothing in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP.

  • The T80 will not be shot at (probably). By setting a hard TRP and a hard target type you in effect said "Shoot only at T80s that are in the DF TRP".

3.

More than a few times I've wanted to set a target unit type at a point when no unit of that type was visible. (In particular, I often seem to have units catch sight of a SAM unit sometime during a move only to have it be invisible at the end of the move when I can change orders.) Does anybody know a way to set a unit type when there isn't a unit of that type visible at that moment?

Can do easy. Click on the button in the Unit Orders Window named "Target Type". Then click on an empty place on the map. The program will notice that you did not click on a unit and it will automatically put up a window that lists every unit type currently in the game. Just select a type from the list. Bingo - you will have set a priority target type even though none are visible on the map.

4.

...trying to figure out the DF TRPs...

The three priority targeting buttons in the Unit Orders Window are considered by the program according to the following rules:

  • (1) The three priority targeting buttons are evaluated by the program in the same order as their left to right order in the Unit Orders Window: Target Unit, then DF TRP, then Target Type.

  • (2) However, hard orders will be considered before soft orders.

  • (3) If a soft order can not be fulfilled then the program looks at the next priority button.

  • (4) If a hard order can not be fulfilled then the program stops looking.

5.

Who gets shot at for each of these three situations?

  • 1. No unit priority, soft DF TRP, soft type priority (T80 for the example): Only a BTR in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP. I'm guessing the BTR, but the example in the users guide didn't say what happens if there was something in the TRP.

  • The BTR will most likely be shot at because the soft order DF TRP is checked before the soft order target type. If the T80 had been in the TRP, the T80 would have been shot at since it would have met both priorities while the BTR only met one priority.

  • 2. No unit priority, hard TRP, hard type priority (again a T80): Only a BTR in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP.

  • Neither unit will be shot at (probably). By setting a hard TRP and a hard target type you in effect said "Shoot only at T80s that are in the DF TRP".

  • 3. No unit priority, hard TRP, hard type priority (surprise! a T80): Nothing in the TRP, and a T80 outside the TRP.

  • The T80 will not be shot at (probably). By setting a hard TRP and a hard target type you in effect said "Shoot only at T80s that are in the DF TRP".

6.

More than a few times I've wanted to set a target unit type at a point when no unit of that type was visible. (In particular, I often seem to have units catch sight of a SAM unit sometime during a move only to have it be invisible at the end of the move when I can change orders.) Does anybody know a way to set a unit type when there isn't a unit of that type visible at that moment?

Can do easy. Click on the button in the Unit Orders Window named "Target Type". Then click on an empty place on the map. The program will notice that you did not click on a unit and it will automatically put up a window that lists every unit type currently in the game. Just select a type from the list. Bingo - you will have set a priority target type even though none are visible on the map.

7.

Many times I want my unit to concentrate on the closest unit, not battle it out with units all over the map. I suppose I can probably do this with some sort of constraint - but to be honest, I haven't completely figured this out yet. Still, I don't want my units wasting shots on low probability kills when there are closer units.

Units will generally default to engaging the closest, most threatening enemy unit, offering the best chance of a kill. Most of the time they will not pass up a good odds attack for a bad one. If you absolutely want a unit to only fire upon targets within a certain area or at a certain range, hold down the option key when you use the "Set DF TRP" button in the unit orders window to give a "hard priority targeting order". See the User's Guide pp 37 - 41. For example - hold down the option key, click on the Set DF TRP unit, click on the center of your own unit, and then set the TRP radius to 500 meters - you just gave a hard order to that unit to never engage an enemy target that is greater than 500 meters away ... no matter what.

ARTILLERY SECTION

1. We know you are aware that the ability to shift to a new target the artillery rounds when they are "on the way" is a little bit unreal. Thanks to this feature I've been able to blast within few seconds an enemy tank platoon which had suddenly wipe out part of my spread head advancing in a wood. This is far from reality, so we strongly exhort you to correct the way in which the artillery is handled. Because of the vital role played by the artillery, an excessive abstractness in treating it impairs the realism of all the simulation.
2. If you smoke yourself and OPFOR does not have thermal sights (or you are using art smoke defeats thermal sights), does OPFOR art accuracy reset to zero?
3. My mortar units never seem to have ICM available. This is the way its supposed to be, right?
4. Is the likelihood of getting additional artillery or air support partly a function of how much you have already used?
5. Also, I believe that I noticed that my mortar units would not execute movement orders unless I manually canceled indirect fire orders. Is this true?
6. Is it really difficult to use artillery to interdict moving armor or am I just incompetent?
7. Does artillery affect helicopters in flight? landed?
8. Does artillery attack units or individual steps?i.e. can you avoid multiple hits on your infantry by amalgamating them into large units?
9. Someone I know in ROTC said that HE works better than ICM on entrenched infantry. Is this true?
10. Recently I've come up with a tactic that you would probably consider a "game trick". Basically what I do is establish a good TRP anywhere within 1 km of the intended target with several turns of spotted, adjusting fire, then shift fire onto the real target, which is usually not in my LOS. If left alone, the arty fires will drop one level in accuracy with each turn. However, if I shift back to the TRP and then shift to the target again on each turn, I can maintain level 4 accuracy on the unobserved target.
11. Is this at all realistic?
12. Can an artillery unit consistently hit a registered TRP even if there is no longer a forward observer monitoring the fires?
13. As a follow up to my last letter, I am also concerned about the seeming lack of accuracy from howitzer units acquiring targets through direct LOS.
14. My current gripe with TacOps is that mortars and SP Arty can move, stop and then start indirect fire missions in the next 15 second impulse.
15. Actually, you can fire indirect on the move also--clearly an impossibility for the Hummer and leg mortar units.
16. The arty accuracy number can change from 0 - 5 but to me it feels like the higher numbers doesn't make much difference. ... I would much appreciate if you could please explain how the arty accuracy is meant to work?
17. Off-board artillery is straight forward but on-board is confusing. In the various articles on the subject it seems that smaller bore artillery needs to be grouped for good effect, but what of onboard main artillery like a 155mm?
18. Is the off-board designation of ONE unit equivalent to one on-board?
19. I broke up my three 60mm mortar teams up into individual units. I'm wondering how important is keeping the unit together in terms of firepower and smoke. For firepower, if a group of 3 mortars hit a spot, how does that compare to 3 groups of 1 mortars each hitting the same spot.
20. I keep wondering about the very quick response-time of on-map artillery and mortar units. ... I would not have imagined that a unit would be ready to start fire within seconds of being requested. Is really so?
21. I have had bad luck when using the MRL while playing OPFOR while it always seems very effective when used by the computer opponent. I raise this question to understand from others if the rocket barrages'. wonderfully devastating effect in games vs the computer is the fluke, or if the fluke was in the human vs human games.
22. While playing TacOps I have, on a number of occasions, successfully placed artillery rounds on top of vehicles moving across a battlefield at 50 to 100 clicks/hour. Can that be done in the real world, with a mortar or a field piece?
23. ...vehicle mounted mortars and the like have an engagement range. Can I set this to zero (so they won't fire rifles and the like at nearby enemy) and still expect the indirect fire to be unaffected..
24. ...or will the mortar launch cause the automatic resetting of the engagement range to maximum (with subsequent small arms defensive fire)?
25. When artillery falls on my own pieces I see every explosion, S, D, E, and "skull" ... I think I just see a subset of that information for enemy units. ... Are there some rules for when I see those glyphs for enemy units?
26. When you have an arty unit register an impact point as a TRP at, say, accuracy level 1, and you get the accuracy up to a higher level (say, 4), and then cease or shift fire, does the TRP stay at the last saved accuracy level, or does it automatically remember the highest level?
27. How do I use them [TRPs] and what good do they bring?
28. Does artillery, ICM or HE, have any effect on helicopters at NOE altitude?
29. I have tried to at least suppress helicopters with artillery, but it doesn't seem to effect them. Is this realistic?
30. I've been paying close attention to the way arty works, and the best I can figure the randomizer considers the center of the TRP to be the Mean Point of Impact (MPI) of a "large" number of salvos, and each individual salvo describes a point about the Circular Error Probable (CEP) centered on the MPI. If you pay attention, you'll note that salvos "wander" around the center of the MPI (TRP) marker. This is completely realistic, and entirely proper behavior for arty. The perception seems to be that the center of the TRP is the specific point where the salvo will impact. It's not. If you want to have a significant, lasting effect on the target, let the guns work it over for more than one or two minutes. If you give the arty time to do its job you will notice the salvos spiraling into the center of the MPI (TRP) in ever decreasing random circles within the CEP.
31. Which type of arty is more effective against infantry, ICM or HE?
32. And, more importantly, why?
33. Tactical question: if you find your on-board SP arty using direct fire against most OPFOR vehicles, have you made a grave tactical error somewhere?
34. Also, the MRLS can fire within a minute of recieving orders even when on the move.
35. Against BTRs, maybe; they can't effectively return fire. Against anything with a >90mm gun tube or a ATGM, isn't the arty toast?
36. ...when I try shifting back to a previously set TRP, I do not return to the level 5 accuracy I formerly had.
1.

We know you are aware that the ability to shift to a new target the artillery rounds when they are "on the way" is a little bit unreal. Thanks to this feature I've been able to blast within few seconds an enemy tank platoon which had suddenly wipe out part of my spread head advancing in a wood. This is far from reality, so we strongly exhort you to correct the way in which the artillery is handled. Because of the vital role played by the artillery, an excessive abstractness in treating it impairs the realism of all the simulation.

That is the way that the game is meant to work. The artillery combat results tables take into consideration that the artillery placement procedures are unrealistic. If I made the artillery placement procedures more technically realistic then I would also have to change the logic tables that assess casualties so that they would calculate casualty effect based on artillery rounds instead of based simply on a standard, optimum salvo. If done properly the result in the game would be a lot more work and annoyance for the player but the artillery combat results when spread over an entire game session would be almost exactly the same.

2.

If you smoke yourself and OPFOR does not have thermal sights (or you are using art smoke defeats thermal sights), does OPFOR art accuracy reset to zero?

Yes, eventually. Arty accuracy decreases one level per turn against target points that were initially under observation but later became obscured.

3.

My mortar units never seem to have ICM available. This is the way its supposed to be, right?

Correct. ICM is a 'bomblet/submunition' type of ammunition and to the best of my knowledge is not currently fielded for any US, Canadian, or OPFOR mortar.

4.

Is the likelihood of getting additional artillery or air support partly a function of how much you have already used?

Never in the case of off map arty and not usually in the case of air support. A player can never have more than six unused air support missions - if a player already has six air support missions waiting to be used, no more air support will be forthcoming until at least one of those missions is expended - there is no such limitation for receiving additional arty ammo. The likelihood of getting additional arty ammo or additional air support missions is based mainly on a probability that is set during the first/setup turn of a scenario. Some scenarios have a higher probability of receiving additional arty ammo or air support than others. Some have zero probabilities of one or the other or both. The player is free to change the probabilities in any scenario via the Options/Arty Support menu item and Options/Air Support menu item during the first/setup turn.

5.

Also, I believe that I noticed that my mortar units would not execute movement orders unless I manually canceled indirect fire orders. Is this true?

Yes - mortar units will not usually execute movement orders unless the player manually cancels indirect fire orders.

6.

Is it really difficult to use artillery to interdict moving armor or am I just incompetent?

It is really difficult - even more so in real life than in TacOps *g*.

7.

Does artillery affect helicopters in flight? landed?

In TacOps artillery can not effect helicopters in flight. I have no note of a helicopter ever running into an artillery round while in flight in the real world. Landed helos suffer the same as other units on the ground.

8.

Does artillery attack units or individual steps?i.e. can you avoid multiple hits on your infantry by amalgamating them into large units?

Artillery attacks all unit markers within its salvo radius and the arty combat results tables yield casualties as a percentage of what is in each marker. You can not reduce or increase casualties from arty fire by amalgamating units into large units or by splitting them into a stack of small units. The final casualty percentage within the salvo beaten zone should be the same either way. If you want less casualties from arty, you need to spread out your stacks so that there is not so much in one place - same as in the real world.

9.

Someone I know in ROTC said that HE works better than ICM on entrenched infantry. Is this true?

In the real world, it depends on the nature of the entrenchment and of the surrounding terrain. The most critical factor is the amount and strength of overhead cover. Unless the entrenchment has a top on it that can resist the penetration of anitarmor type ICM or unless the entrenchment is in forested terrain then in my opinion ICM would be better to use than HE.

In TacOps, neither HE nor ICM will have great killing effect vs entrenched infantry when the entrenchment is in wooded or town terrain. Arty vs such targets is most useful for its suppression effect while you are closing to do a direct fire assault of the entrenched position. Since ICM is generally scarce in TacOps, it is thus generally more efficient to use HE vs entrenched infantry when the entrenchment is in wooded or town terrain.

10.

Recently I've come up with a tactic that you would probably consider a "game trick". Basically what I do is establish a good TRP anywhere within 1 km of the intended target with several turns of spotted, adjusting fire, then shift fire onto the real target, which is usually not in my LOS. If left alone, the arty fires will drop one level in accuracy with each turn. However, if I shift back to the TRP and then shift to the target again on each turn, I can maintain level 4 accuracy on the unobserved target.

I do not consider that to be a "game trick" - given the constraints of the current TacOps arty model. Use it with a clear conscience *g*. See what follows for the "why" of it.

11.

Is this at all realistic?

Yes and no. The TacOps arty routines and arty combat results tables are "effect oriented" rather than "procedure oriented". The arty targeting and call for fire "procedures" in TacOps are not perfectly realistic - they were not meant to be. The TacOps design goal was for the responsiveness of indirect fire support to be realistic and for its effects on target to be realistic when averaged over the course of several turns.

12.

Can an artillery unit consistently hit a registered TRP even if there is no longer a forward observer monitoring the fires?

In the real world, yes - in TacOps, no. In the real world, modern arty salvos do not wander around significantly until the gunners change the firing settings on the tubes or on the ammo (assuming that the guns are properly emplaced on dry/firm ground). Unobserved arty salvos wander around in TacOps because the game engine assumes that if you as the TacOps player are directing your arty to lay on an unobserved target then your "virtual arty gunners" are changing the firing settings with each salvo so as to cover more ground so as to have a better chance of hitting a target that "your virtual troops" can not in fact observe.

13.

As a follow up to my last letter, I am also concerned about the seeming lack of accuracy from howitzer units acquiring targets through direct LOS.

A quick question. Are you splitting up your on map howitzer and mortar batteries into single tube units - because it "looks" like you get more fire missions that way?

If so, you should be aware that single mortar and howitzer tubes firing indirect fire or direct lay fire will have far less effectiveness than they have when firing as a battery. The game engine heavily penalizes the splitting of howitzers and mortar units. The impact has to be dead on the center of the target unit or it probably won't have any effect. I never split my mortar and howitzer units except to occasionally lay an irregular shaped smoke cloud.

14.

My current gripe with TacOps is that mortars and SP Arty can move, stop and then start indirect fire missions in the next 15 second impulse.

An arty unit moves then stops. That arty unit then marks a target - gonna be one to two minutes before the first round lands. After the first round lands it will be two to four more minutes before the salvos are dead on. Seems like a few minutes have transpired to me. If you want longer setup times use a gentleman's agreement.

15.

Actually, you can fire indirect on the move also--clearly an impossibility for the Hummer and leg mortar units.

I agree. Technically they are firing direct fire against targets in full view when this is done and the game engine has the unit stop when it fires. The TacOps implementaion of the leg mortar units is a bit unrealistic in policing this but 60mm and 81mm mortars can in fact be fired in real life "on the bounce" without going thru the process of preparing the firing point, putting out aiming stakes, etc. The technique is not practiced, to my knowledge, in peacetime because (a) it is dangerous and (b) most peacetime mortar gunners have not fired enough rounds in training to be any good at it.

16.

The arty accuracy number can change from 0 - 5 but to me it feels like the higher numbers doesn't make much difference. ... I would much appreciate if you could please explain how the arty accuracy is meant to work?

Its a bit more complicated than what follows and the accuracy number is also used for some things other than accuracy but in general the impact center of an incoming arty or mortar salvo may be off some random distance in meters from the intended target point according to the following table.

Level With Observer With No Observer 0 0..500m 0..500m 1 0..50m 0..250m 2 0..50m 0..250m 3 0..20m 0..50m 4 0..20m 0..50m 5 0..20m 0..50m

17.

Off-board artillery is straight forward but on-board is confusing. In the various articles on the subject it seems that smaller bore artillery needs to be grouped for good effect, but what of onboard main artillery like a 155mm?

The game allows on-board artillery and mortar units to be split down to individual vehicles, tubes, and or teams but this is not generally a good thing to do as the effective beaten zone of the weapon is greatly reduced in the process. By this I mean that a salvo from an onboard arty or mortar marker representing six tubes will attack a much larger area of ground than will a salvo for an arty or mortar marker representing only one or two tubes. The more tubes in the marker, the more ground will be effectively covered by a given salvo. The only time that breaking down an onboard arty or mortar units might be beneficial would be the case where you want to lay a long and irregularly shaped smoke cloud.

18.

Is the off-board designation of ONE unit equivalent to one on-board?

No. Off-board arty is not meant to necessarily reflect the fire of one discrete arty unit or even a certain size of arty unit. The slots in the off-board artillery support window provide greater levels of potential destruction per salvo than similarly named on-board units/markers. Each off- board arty slot typically represents a level of fire somewhere between one very hardworking battery and a lazy battalion.

19.

I broke up my three 60mm mortar teams up into individual units. I'm wondering how important is keeping the unit together in terms of firepower and smoke. For firepower, if a group of 3 mortars hit a spot, how does that compare to 3 groups of 1 mortars each hitting the same spot.

When you split on board arty or mortar units you reduce their killing and suppression effectiveness greatly - perhaps more than the percentage of split would seem to indicate. I would suggest that it is OK to split such units for smoke missions, but you are not going to kill much if you split them out for HE/ ICM missions. You should conduct some experiments using a custom scenario template and the " two players on one computer" mode. Set up such a game with a lot of enemy infantry in a stack and with only on board mortars and howitzers on the other side. Turn off the fog of war for both sides so that you can see the combat results and experiment with shelling the infantry stack with split units and with joined units.

20.

I keep wondering about the very quick response-time of on-map artillery and mortar units. ... I would not have imagined that a unit would be ready to start fire within seconds of being requested. Is really so?

Yes for the most part. Fire support is not "always" as responsive as portrayed in TacOps but the game engine assumes that everyone is achieving the optimum through good comms and prior planning. Also, some of the fast response in TacOps is just a mechanism for achieving playability in the obtaining and placement of the fire support. I am more interested in adequately portraying the realism of the effect of the fire support once it impacts rather than portraying the procedures involved in getting it. In real life you can not magically alter the path of an incoming arty salvo 15 seconds before impact *g*. You apparently can do this in TacOps because I am portraying the results of fire support rather than the procedure and not because I fail to realize that it does not really work that way.

21.

I have had bad luck when using the MRL while playing OPFOR while it always seems very effective when used by the computer opponent. I raise this question to understand from others if the rocket barrages'. wonderfully devastating effect in games vs the computer is the fluke, or if the fluke was in the human vs human games.

Some background info... The combat resolution for MRL, MLRS, in fact all arty attacks is the same for games against the computer opponent as for human vs human games. The computer opponent does not get extra explosive effect. The only arty related "good deal" for the computer opponent is that it gets a one level accuracy increase for the first arty salvo that falls on a given observed map point - instead of the accuracy of such a mission starting at zero, it starts at one. The effectiveness of any form of arty in TacOps, in general, varies according to the terrain in the beaten zone and according to the tactical disposition of the units in the beaten zone. The clearer the terrain, the more effective will be the arty. Units that are moving/exposed (in any kind of terrain) are more susceptible to damage than are units that are stationary/in TacOps defilade mode or that are in field fortifications. In general, in TacOps, the best deal for arty is a target that is moving/exposed in clear terrain. The worst deal for arty is a target in woods or town that is also in a field fortification. In between these extremes, you get "in between" results *g*.

22.

While playing TacOps I have, on a number of occasions, successfully placed artillery rounds on top of vehicles moving across a battlefield at 50 to 100 clicks/hour. Can that be done in the real world, with a mortar or a field piece?

Currently the max possible speed permitted to vehicles in TacOps is 40 kilometers per hour.

What you are seeing in TacOps is the impact of a volley (i.e. more than one round) of arty or mortar rounds. In the real world a direct hit on a vehicle by one arty or mortar HE round fired as indirect fire would be more of a happy accident than anything else however super near misses from HE rounds can damage or destroy even tanks. HE fire in TacOps seldom kills heavily armored vehicles. ICM anti armor ammo is a different story. Each round of ICM anti armor ammo breaks into many bomblets that spread out over the target area. These bomblets are small shaped charges and they are quite capable of penetrating the top armor of tanks. ICM ammo in TacOps frequently destroys vehicles.

23.

...vehicle mounted mortars and the like have an engagement range. Can I set this to zero (so they won't fire rifles and the like at nearby enemy) and still expect the indirect fire to be unaffected..

Yes.

24.

...or will the mortar launch cause the automatic resetting of the engagement range to maximum (with subsequent small arms defensive fire)?

No.

25.

When artillery falls on my own pieces I see every explosion, S, D, E, and "skull" ... I think I just see a subset of that information for enemy units. ... Are there some rules for when I see those glyphs for enemy units?

If arty falls on an enemy infantry unit that is not in line of sight of and or visible to any of your units on the ground then you won't be shown the arty's effect. If arty falls on enemy vehicles and a vehicle is destroyed then you will be shown a secondary explosion but again if none of your units can legally see the vehicle then you won't see the actual vehicle or the nearby suppression results that undoubtedly accompanied the arty impact.

By the way, if arty falls on infantry or lightly armored vehicles, all such units roughly within the explosion animation (unless you are firing very small mortars in which case the effect radius is not as big as the animation) will almost always be suppressed even if you do not see an "S" for every one of the markers. When arty falls on armored vehicles they may or may not be suppressed.

26.

When you have an arty unit register an impact point as a TRP at, say, accuracy level 1, and you get the accuracy up to a higher level (say, 4), and then cease or shift fire, does the TRP stay at the last saved accuracy level, or does it automatically remember the highest level?

A TRP stays at the accuracy at which it was saved. Think of it as a bit of data that is saved one time and later reread whenever you shift to it. If you later get a fire mission going in that same place that has a higher accuracy level, you should delete the old TRP and save a new one at the higher level.

27.

How do I use them [TRPs] and what good do they bring?

In TacOps, TRPs are artillery target reference points. They represent artillery target points that have been registered with supporting artillery units. You can use the Artillery Support Window to start an arty mission with a TRP instead of starting one from scratch. When you start an artillery mission with a TRP you generally get your first salvo sooner and the initial salvos will be more accurate. In some scenarios you get a bunch of TRPs at the beginning of a scenario to set up on the map like unit markers. In all scenarios you can create TRPs by firing an observed artillery mission until its accuracy is high enough to suit you and then saving the mission as a TRP.

28.

Does artillery, ICM or HE, have any effect on helicopters at NOE altitude?

Not at present. Although I have no citation for an airborne helo ever actually being destroyed by arty fire, I have often thought that I probably should represent the possibility somehow particularly for helos at NOE altitude.

29.

I have tried to at least suppress helicopters with artillery, but it doesn't seem to effect them. Is this realistic?

I don't know if applying the current TacOps concept of suppression would be appropriate for helos but I do agree that something probably needs to be done in the game to realistically discourage NOE helos from loitering in an area that is receiving arty fire and to punish those that do.

30.

I've been paying close attention to the way arty works, and the best I can figure the randomizer considers the center of the TRP to be the Mean Point of Impact (MPI) of a "large" number of salvos, and each individual salvo describes a point about the Circular Error Probable (CEP) centered on the MPI. If you pay attention, you'll note that salvos "wander" around the center of the MPI (TRP) marker. This is completely realistic, and entirely proper behavior for arty. The perception seems to be that the center of the TRP is the specific point where the salvo will impact. It's not. If you want to have a significant, lasting effect on the target, let the guns work it over for more than one or two minutes. If you give the arty time to do its job you will notice the salvos spiraling into the center of the MPI (TRP) in ever decreasing random circles within the CEP.

Your analysis is 100% correct.

31.

Which type of arty is more effective against infantry, ICM or HE?

In the real world there are a few situations in which HE is better, however in TacOps, ICM is always more effective against infantry than HE. If target infantry are in the open then ICM is very likely to do a lot more damage than HE. If target infantry are in woods then ICM is moderately likely to do more damage than HE. If target infantry are in a town then ICM is slightly likely to do more damage than HE.

32.

And, more importantly, why?

Anti personnel ICM ammo does a better job than HE at dispersing more chunks of shrapnel evenly over a larger area at a height and angle more conducive to hitting people. Overhead cover reduces its effect however if overhead cover is a consideration then the firing battery can mix in some anti armor ICM and or dual purpose ICM ammo.

33.

Tactical question: if you find your on-board SP arty using direct fire against most OPFOR vehicles, have you made a grave tactical error somewhere?

If you are US probably so. If you are OPFOR then you might be within doctrine. They used to expect the 122mm SPs to frequently engage defending infantry with direct fire and I would think they would expect there to be usually some armor around enemy infantry. 122mm SPs carry a few rounds of HEAT for such ad hoc anti armor work.

34.

Also, the MRLS can fire within a minute of recieving orders even when on the move.

Maybe on an exceptional basis, but there is still time of flight to be considered. On a routine basis it would probably take at least a minute just to get them to answer and authenticate the radio call *g*. Very few things in real life happen in just 60 seconds.

35.

Against BTRs, maybe; they can't effectively return fire. Against anything with a >90mm gun tube or a ATGM, isn't the arty toast?

Heavy machine guns can get through the armor on the M109 155mm SP - its aluminum like the M113 APC *g*.

36.

...when I try shifting back to a previously set TRP, I do not return to the level 5 accuracy I formerly had.

An arty TRP stores the accuracy level that you had achieved at the instant when you first created that TRP. The maximum level is five. When you later shift back to that TRP, your first volley will get the stored accuracy level minus one. For example If you had achieved a level five accuracy when you created the TRP then your first volley after shifting back to it will have an accuracy level of four.

HOW DO I USE TRP?

1. I fire at a give TRP, in adjust mode, until the accuracy is up to five, than shift to a new TRP. Is this the right process?
1.

I fire at a give TRP, in adjust mode, until the accuracy is up to five, than shift to a new TRP. Is this the right process?

You don't create the TRP and then shoot at it. You fire first for a while and then you register the arty mission target point as a TRP. You should fire arty at a point on the map until you achieve a level five mission accuracy, then you should create a TRP for that mission. If you create the TRP first, it will be created at level one and will always come back as a level one.

By the way, real arty does not work this way - it does not wander around when unobserved. Modern arty will continue to hit pretty much the same spot, volley after volley until the gunners change the lay of the tubes. TacOps assumes that if a mission is unobserved then the firing batteries are walking the rounds around the target area to make up for not really knowing where the rounds are landing. I don't really like this but I feel I need to do it this way to prevent potential abusive use of unobserved arty - i.e. gaming tricks.

ATGM FIRE BUT DONT IMMEDIATELY IMPACT

1. On team Davis, I had been experiencing some instances where OpFor ATGMs fired but did not impact.
1.

On team Davis, I had been experiencing some instances where OpFor ATGMs fired but did not impact.

Not a bug - tis but another unpublicised realism detail *g*. TacOps considers the air speed of ATGMs. If they take longer than 15 seconds to reach their target their impact will be "held back" until the next pulse of the combat phase. If they are "held back" in the last 15 second pulse then they won't impact until the first combat pulse after an intervening orders phase. In general this is only noticeable for OPFOR ATGMs firing at ranges of 3000 or more meters. If the target disappears before impact then the inflight ATGM cancels out.

PORTABLE and TRANSPORTABLE BOMBS SECTION

Hmmm ... I seem to have left the portable and transportable bombs out of the user guide.

Portable and transportable bombs can be added to a scenario by use of the "Options/Add One" unit menu item. The power of the bomb is defined by the user (normally an umpire) when it is created. A portable bomb can be carried by dismounted personnel and by vehicles. A transportable bomb can only be carried by a vehicle. Bombs are activated by the owning player opening an orders window for the bomb and setting a detonation time. If an umpire opens an orders window for a bomb, the umpire may also specify or change the casualty radius of the bomb.

Bombs have the following attributes ...

  • A. Bombs do not spot. An exposed bomb marker will be revealed if/while any enemy unit is within 50 meters. A bomb that is being carried by a person or in a vehicle will not be revealed while it is being carried.

  • B. On map units will not engage enemy bomb markers with direct fire. Bombs may be coincidentally disabled or destroyed by indirect fire. An umpire can remove a bomb by using the "Options/Delete Units" menu item or the "Options/Kill Units" menu item. A US EOD/UXO Team or a Civilian EOD/UXO Team can disarm portable and transportable bombs. The unit is ordered to attempt to disarm a bomb by using a button in its unit orders window. There is a slight chance that an EOD unit disarm attempt will detonate the bomb. Disarming will take from five to ten minutes and the player will not know the exact time that will be required.

  • C. The power of a bomb marker is defined by its casualty radius. The casualty radius is defined at the instant of the bomb.s addition to the game. An umpire may also change the casualty radius of a bomb at any time. A bomb should not be given a casualty radius larger than 100 to 200 meters unless it is equivalent to a nuclear device. The special bomb markers are not really intended to represent nuclear devices but the following casualty radii are suggested if the user wants a gross approximation of the blast effects of a nuclear device: .5 kiloton - 600 meters, 1 kiloton -700 meters, 2 kiloton - 900 meters, 5 kiloton - 1000 meters, 10 kiloton - 1100 meters. Note that crater effect, blow down, fire, and radiation will not be represented when the bomb detonates.

  • D. Armored vehicles located within the first 12.5% of a bomb.s casualty radius will be automatically destroyed. The risk to armored vehicles then declines linearly to zero at 50% of the bomb.s casualty radius.

  • E. Dismounted personnel in entrenchments within the first 12.5% of a bomb.s casualty radius will be automatically destroyed. The risk to dismounted personnel in entrenchments then declines linearly to zero at 50% of the bomb.s casualty radius.

  • F. Unarmored vehicles located within the first 25% of a bomb.s casualty radius will be automatically destroyed. The risk to unarmored vehicles then declines linearly to zero at the bomb maximum casualty radius.

  • G. Dismounted exposed personnel within the first 50% of a bomb.s casualty radius will be automatically destroyed. The risk to exposed dismounted personnel then declines linearly to zero at the bomb.s maximum casualty radius.

  • H. All surviving units located anywhere within the bomb.s casualty radius will be suppressed.

  • I. Any bridge has a 95% chance of destruction if a portable bomb or a transportable bomb is detonated on the bridge. The center point of the bomb marker must be located inside the bridge marker.

1. I tried to add bombs [portable bomb and transportable bomb] to a scenario tonight, but they kept blowing up on the first turn, even though I had the time values set for greater lengths.
1.

I tried to add bombs [portable bomb and transportable bomb] to a scenario tonight, but they kept blowing up on the first turn, even though I had the time values set for greater lengths.

The numbers that you enter into the bomb timer are not "lengths" they are the hour and minute parts of a clock time. In other words, you enter numbers that indicate at what clock time the bomb is to go off. Example ... say the current time in the game is 0800 and you want the bomb to go off in 15 minutes, which will be a game clock time of 0815. Then you would enter 08 and 15 in the bomb timer window.

ENGINEER SECTION

1. The same question applies to Engineer units
1.

The same question applies to Engineer units

In TacOps ... Engineers are far more likely to recognize an unspotted minefield prior to walking into it. Engineers are far less likely to be attacked by a minefield as they move through it clearing a path as they go.

ENTRENCHEHMENT SECTION

1. Can all units fight as effectively from entrenched positions as from open or defiladed positions.
2. Is there any change in offensive capability [due to a unit being entrenched].
1.

Can all units fight as effectively from entrenched positions as from open or defiladed positions.

Yes.

2.

Is there any change in offensive capability [due to a unit being entrenched].

Being entrenched does not reduce a unit's offensive capability. Being entrenched could be said to increase a unit's offensive capability - since being entrenched reduces the likelihood of a unit being killed or suppressed then the unit has an increased chance of being able to fire effectively for a longer period of time.

1. After creating an impenetrable network of entrenchments in a game the other day, I was shocked when my opponent simply marched up, entered the entrenchments my troops were supposed to be holding, and dug in (eliminating my defensive advantage). Allowing enemy troops to enter an occupied entrenchment seems like a bit of a bug to me.
2. Is there a real-world situation in which this might occur, or have I misunderstood what an entrenchment is? (I thought it was like a bunker)
1.

After creating an impenetrable network of entrenchments in a game the other day, I was shocked when my opponent simply marched up, entered the entrenchments my troops were supposed to be holding, and dug in (eliminating my defensive advantage). Allowing enemy troops to enter an occupied entrenchment seems like a bit of a bug to me.

Is not a bug, because that is the way I coded it to work :). If you don't have enough troops armed with the right kind of weapons defending an entrenchment then the enemy will march up to it, enter it, and then clean it out. In TacOps an "entrenchment" is considered to be an area of relatively hasty positions consisting of foxholes, some shallow trenches, and perhaps a few reinforced firing positions. TacOps entrenchments do not represent WWII style concrete/log bunkers.

2.

Is there a real-world situation in which this might occur, or have I misunderstood what an entrenchment is? (I thought it was like a bunker)

In the real world, entrenchments don't stop attackers - it is the men and weapons in the entrenchment that must stop attackers. An entrenchment only gives protection to the occupants while they engage an approaching enemy. Once an enemy actually enters an entrenched position, then the entrenchment effectively becomes neutral - i.e. it gives the same advantages to both sides.

1. Just how defensively powerful are entrenchments. Seems like a unit dug in ends up pretty much invincible to DF attacks from all sides.
2. Don't entrenched units have severe limitations on movement and firing directions when dug in, esp. on hills?
3. Do entrenchments have a general orientation (east/west) or are they omnidirectional?
4. Under TacOps 0.0.2 entrenchemnts offer much more protection than under 0.0.1. Does this extra protection outweigh the advantage of backing away?
1.

Just how defensively powerful are entrenchments. Seems like a unit dug in ends up pretty much invincible to DF attacks from all sides.

In TacOps - very. All entrenched units are significantly harder to spot. All entrenched units are significantly harder to hit with direct fire. Entrenched infantry units suffer less personnel casualties when they are hit by direct or indirect fire. Entrenchments can hold an infinite number of units. [There is no need to have the game enforce stacking limits. Your opponent's artillery will generally drive the lesson home about not bunching up.] In TacOps entrenchments are omnidirectional as terrain features. However, during combat the facing of a unit that is in an entrenchment is still consulted so side and rear attacks are better than frontal assaults against entrenchments. Entrenched infantry will probably require a dismounted assault by your infantry with your armor just behind the infantry to provide fire support. Don't put the armor in front as they attract RPGs. Note the facing of the entrenched enemy unit and try to come at it from the side or even better rear. You get big benefits from attacking them from the side and rear.

2.

Don't entrenched units have severe limitations on movement and firing directions when dug in, esp. on hills?

Good units prepare alternate positions and move between them as the situation requires - TacOps assumes this. For playability reasons, I often have TacOps assume things like this rather than make the user do a lot of extra work with the mouse.

3.

Do entrenchments have a general orientation (east/west) or are they omnidirectional?

In TacOps they are omnidirectional as terrain features. During combat though the facing of a unit that is in an entrenchment is still consulted so side and rear attacks are better than frontal assaults against entrenchments.

4.

Under TacOps 0.0.2 entrenchemnts offer much more protection than under 0.0.1. Does this extra protection outweigh the advantage of backing away?

Backing out of sight will always be better since there is no chance of hitting a target that can not be seen. However, sometimes the tactical situation requires one to stand and fight no matter what. In that circumstance, entrenchments come in very handy.

MINEFIELD SECTION

1. Do minefields have any added effect if doubled (i.e., do two mines stacked together attack the same unit twice)? Or would it be better to "double belt" the minefields.?
2. Is the strength of a minefield attenuated by repeated exposure to artillery fire? I was wondering if you can blast a lane through a minefield with some PD 155mm artillery.
3. ...question about the OPFOR AI and minefields... although the main body of the OPFOR remained in defensive positions, the additional units decided that the best defense was a good offense. The charge might have been very effective had they not driven through their own minefield ... does the OPFOR AI know where the minefields are, and does it try to find a path around minefields or push through the middle?
4. Is there any numerical value given to the strength of a minefield? If there is, could it be shown to the player so that he could see how many more units may be damaged by that mine. For example, each arty mine has 5 damage points, and each hand placed has 7 points. When a T80 goes over a mine, the value drops, say 3 points, and when a Inf Team goes over it, it drops 1 point. This may be impossible to do, but it may make the minefields a bit easier to uOAnderstand.
5. I've been playing TacOps for awhile now and I've never seen a minefield. Or had a scenario to put mines down. Which scenario's are minefields present ?
6. What is the density of the mine fields?
7. ... [wants] artillery delivered mines as an option during the game rather than having to be emplaced at the beginning...
8. My opponent has selected two FASCAM which gives him 20 mine icons. He's placed them in at least nine locations (that I've stumbled across so far) in 1's and a few 2's with very little clustering. Is this realistic?
1.

Do minefields have any added effect if doubled (i.e., do two mines stacked together attack the same unit twice)? Or would it be better to "double belt" the minefields.?

Minefields have no added effect if doubled - in fact, stacking two mine markers together is a complete waste of one marker. It would be better to "double belt" the minefields.

2.

Is the strength of a minefield attenuated by repeated exposure to artillery fire? I was wondering if you can blast a lane through a minefield with some PD 155mm artillery.

Not in TacOps. I have a note to think about this though. Seems like if this were a useful tactic in the real world, I would have read or heard about it - which I have not.

3.

...question about the OPFOR AI and minefields... although the main body of the OPFOR remained in defensive positions, the additional units decided that the best defense was a good offense. The charge might have been very effective had they not driven through their own minefield ... does the OPFOR AI know where the minefields are, and does it try to find a path around minefields or push through the middle?

The OPFOR AI knows where its minefields are. In the case you observed its units just decided to bull their way through. Sometimes OPFOR units go around minefields, sometimes they go through them.

4.

Is there any numerical value given to the strength of a minefield? If there is, could it be shown to the player so that he could see how many more units may be damaged by that mine. For example, each arty mine has 5 damage points, and each hand placed has 7 points. When a T80 goes over a mine, the value drops, say 3 points, and when a Inf Team goes over it, it drops 1 point. This may be impossible to do, but it may make the minefields a bit easier to uOAnderstand.

Minefields are not based on point values in TacOps - they are pixel based. A pixel equals 10 meters in TacOps. Each time there is a mine detonation in a minefield the pixel in the minefield at the center of the effected unit is zeroed i.e. becomes cleared. Units that enter that pixel in the future will not be attacked by mines. A similar effect happens for each pixel (and a couple more on each side) as a unit crosses a pixel without triggering an attack - in this case a lane is cleared. Whether a lane is created by explosion or safe passage, the safe lane can be viewed using the "Plot Minefield Lanes" menu item.

5.

I've been playing TacOps for awhile now and I've never seen a minefield. Or had a scenario to put mines down. Which scenario's are minefields present ?

I don't think any of the scenarios have minefields in the normal startup situation - i.e. they are optional. You have to add them as optional units during the setup turn. Use the Optional Units menu items during the startup turn.

6.

What is the density of the mine fields?

In TacOps, one pixel equals ten meters. All pixels within a minefield symbol are initially active vs both sides. As a unit crosses a minefield, one of two things happens each time it advances a distance of one pixel - there is a mine attack result or there is a mine clearing/marking result. If you see an explosion then there has been a mine attack result - the pixel under the center point of the unit is usually now clear and one pixel "left" and "right" (per the direction of movement) of it are usually also now clear. If there was no explosion then there was a mine clearing/marking result - the pixel under the center point of the unit is usually now clear and one pixel "left" and "right" (per the direction of movement) of it are usually also now clear. By the way, infantry units are much more likely to get a clearing/marking result than are vehicles.

7.

... [wants] artillery delivered mines as an option during the game rather than having to be emplaced at the beginning...

"On call" usage of arty delivered mines was actually removed from TacOps during the final playtesting of the Mac version because several active duty arty officers said it could not be done in the real world in the limited amount of time represented by a typical TacOps scenario - i.e. one to two hours. The reasons given were (1) it takes a lot of prep time at the firing unit to get mine rounds ready for firing and once prepared they can't just be left laying around for "use when and if needed", (2) their firing generally has to be approved in detail well in advance by some local noble (military or civilian) who usually does not in fact want them used at all, (3) it takes a long period of concentrated firing by a lot of arty units to lay a minefield large enough and thick enough to be tactically significant and (4) arty delivered mines don't arm for a significant period after impact. The rule of thumb that I remember one of these gents giving me was "if you can see them coming [the enemy], it is too late to use arty delivered mines".

No one has since provided me with a convincing counter argument. Therefore the current TacOps approach of requiring you to make a pregame, "best guess" as to where arty delivered mines will be beneficial seems to best replicate the real world situation.

8.

My opponent has selected two FASCAM which gives him 20 mine icons. He's placed them in at least nine locations (that I've stumbled across so far) in 1's and a few 2's with very little clustering. Is this realistic?

The following doesn't answer the question. It is provided only to help the discussion. In TacOps, a minefield marker represents a square area of ground measuring about 150 meters by 150 meters that contains a sufficient density of both anti personnel and anti-tank mines to be tactically significant to both infantry on foot and to vehicles of all classes - i.e. a real physical threat to movement across it. A TacOps minefield is more than a nuisance minefield but less than a barrier minefield.

SMOKE SECTION

1. What is the visibility you assume in smoke for non thermal sight weapons?
2. If you smoke yourself and OPFOR does not have thermal sights (or you are using art smoke defeats thermal sights), does OPFOR art accuracy reset to zero?
3. I'm interested in knowing the duration of SMOKE for the units in the game.
4. I assume that there is no difference in the SMOKE from offboard 122mm and that from a 122mm SP Howitzer.
5. What effect does the number of tubes have on SMOKE duration?
6. What number of tubes will give full effect/half effect/etc.
7. What effect does deploying smoke have in a game where both sides have thermal sights? Other than preventing air strikes, smoke in thermal-equipped games seems pretty useless. Does it prevent infantry from seeing, or does it slightly degrade spotting opportunities?
8. ...does the amount of smoke make a difference? If I put down three smoke missions on the same spot, does it have any more of an effect on the enemy than a single smoke mission would?
1.

What is the visibility you assume in smoke for non thermal sight weapons?

Around 100 meters, measured from the center point of one unit map marker to the center point of the other marker. There is an accuracy deduction for such engagements. In TacOps, line of sight always exists at ranges less than or equal to approximately 100 meters. i consider 100 meters to be "point blank fire". Part of this abstraction is an expectation that units at such ranges would maneuver on their own initiative so as to be able to acquire a target and or that they would be able to sense a target sufficiently to engage it. Another consideration is that using the center point of a map marker as being a unit's position is not a high fidelity approach and thus some looseness in interpreting position vs range is appropriate.

2.

If you smoke yourself and OPFOR does not have thermal sights (or you are using art smoke defeats thermal sights), does OPFOR art accuracy reset to zero?

Yes, eventually. Arty accuracy decreases one level per turn against target points that were initially under observation but later became obscured.

3.

I'm interested in knowing the duration of SMOKE for the units in the game.

Arty and Rocket Launchers (all) - Initially set at impact to last 300 to 420 seconds. When original duration expires, there is a 50% chance each 15 seconds that the smoke will not clear.

Mortars (81mm to 120mm) - Initially set at impact to last 180 to 240 seconds. When original duration expires, there is a 50% chance each 15 seconds that the smoke will not clear. Mortars (less than 81mm) - Initially set at impact to last 120 to 180 seconds. When originalduration expires, there is a 50% chance each 15 seconds that the smoke will not clear.

Smoke grenades - Initially set at pop to last 30 to 70 seconds. When original duration expires, there is a 50% chance each 15 seconds that the smoke will not clear.

4.

I assume that there is no difference in the SMOKE from offboard 122mm and that from a 122mm SP Howitzer.

Correct.

5.

What effect does the number of tubes have on SMOKE duration?

None (I think).

6.

What number of tubes will give full effect/half effect/etc.

Any number of tubes provide the same duration (I think), but the area of smoke effect of one tube is less than that of a battery. If the on map arty/mortar unit has strength points of 1 or 2 you get a small smoke cloud. If strength points of 3 or 4 you get a medium smoke cloud. If strength points greater than 4 you get a large smoke cloud.

7.

What effect does deploying smoke have in a game where both sides have thermal sights? Other than preventing air strikes, smoke in thermal-equipped games seems pretty useless. Does it prevent infantry from seeing, or does it slightly degrade spotting opportunities?

Not every unit in TacOps is equipped with thermal sights. Most infantry units do not have thermal sights (generally only the portable infantry ATGMs have thermals) so smoke can reduce the number of infantry RPGs/LAAWs that are firing at your tanks and APCs. Also, there is a slight reduction in accuracy for even thermal equipped units when they are firing from or into smoke. Smoke will also slow down the movement of any unit inside it - sometimes it can be very useful to make an enemy unit take several extra minutes to get where it wants to go.

8.

...does the amount of smoke make a difference? If I put down three smoke missions on the same spot, does it have any more of an effect on the enemy than a single smoke mission would?

No - the game effects would be exactly the same.

BMP SECTION

1. I read ... that it takes a full minute to reload the missile on a BMP 2/3 ... Don't the TacOps BMPs fire once every 15 seconds?
2. May I ask for the same information regarding the BTR90?
3. Am I missing something here? I thought the BTR-90 was a BTR-80 with a 30mm cannon on the turret roof?
4. BMP 3 fires its ATGM with its 100mm rifled gun/launcher tube, just like T-64/T-80. The 100mm is effectively a modification of the same gun used in T-55s.
5. I seem to recall that one difference between Bradleys and BMPs is that a Bradley will fire ATGMs in two consecutive fire pulses then 'reload' for thirty seconds, whilst a BMP has to reload every shot.
6. I am assuming that the vehicle must be stopped in place while reloading goes on. Correct or not?
7. Hmmm. Can anybody tell me how easy it is to reload a TOW on a Bradley while in motion?
1.

I read ... that it takes a full minute to reload the missile on a BMP 2/3 ... Don't the TacOps BMPs fire once every 15 seconds?

In TacOps, all BMPs have a reload delay for the ATGM. The base reload time for each model of BMP follows: BMP1 = ATGM flight time plus 50 seconds, BMP2 = ATGM flight time plus 50 seconds, BMP3 = ATGM flight time plus 20 seconds. Random combat modifiers may decrease (rarely) the reload time by five to ten seconds or increase (more often) the reload time by 1 to 60 seconds. Also, in TacOps, all US and OPFOR ground vehicles that fire ATGMs do so from 'the short halt'. If an ATGM vehicle marker is moving at the time that it decides to fire an ATGM, the marker will automatically pause in place for the time of flight of the ATGM plus a few seconds.

2.

May I ask for the same information regarding the BTR90?

ATGM flight time plus 50 seconds. Same modifiers as for BMP1 and BMP2. IMHO, folks should not get hung up on feeling that they should know the exact seconds for things like this. Instead, I think folks should develop rough rules of thumb and follow good tactical principles. TacOps has a lot of detail and exactness in its combat rules but the results from event to event are intentionally made fuzzy by many modifiers. If folks try to deduce and predict events to the nearest second - i.e. rules lawyering - they are going to get pounded at critical moments *g*.

3.

Am I missing something here? I thought the BTR-90 was a BTR-80 with a 30mm cannon on the turret roof?

It also has an AT5 Spandrel ATGM launcher on the roof.

4.

BMP 3 fires its ATGM with its 100mm rifled gun/launcher tube, just like T-64/T-80. The 100mm is effectively a modification of the same gun used in T-55s.

The 100mm gun on the T-55 is a heavy, high velocity gun. I don't believe that the turret or suspension of the BMP3 could handle the weight, firing, or recoil of a 100mm high velocity gun. It is my understanding that the 100mm gun on the BMP3 is a low velocity gun that also serves as an ATGM launch tube. It is my understanding that the tube may also be used to fire an HE round but that the HE round is more like the rocket propelled grenade of the BMP1 rather than being like the HE round fired by OPFOR tanks.

5.

I seem to recall that one difference between Bradleys and BMPs is that a Bradley will fire ATGMs in two consecutive fire pulses then 'reload' for thirty seconds, whilst a BMP has to reload every shot.

M2, M3, and LAV-AT have two ATGM tubes. In TacOps, the second ATGM can be fired 15 to 30 seconds after the impact of the first ATGM. After the firing of the second ATGM the launchers get a reload delay. The base reload time for the ATGM launchers on the M2, M3, and LAVAT is ATGM flight time to last target plus 60 seconds. Random combat modifiers may decrease (rarely) the reload time by five to ten seconds or increase (more often) the reload time by 15 to 60 seconds. The best rule of thumb for M2, M3, and LAV-AT launchers is to plan for the reload delay to be two minutes/two turns.

6.

I am assuming that the vehicle must be stopped in place while reloading goes on. Correct or not?

The program just tracks the passage of time - it does not check to see if the vehicle is moving or not.

7.

Hmmm. Can anybody tell me how easy it is to reload a TOW on a Bradley while in motion?

I suspect that it varies in real life from hard to impossible depending on the speed of the vehicle and the terrain that is being traveled through. Regardless, I don't view this to be a significant detail given the game's other time and movement abstractions and the overall scale and scope of the game.

Misc. UNIT SECTION

1. What is the game purpose of the M113 PPS5 Radar?
2. M113 FIST-V?
3. Canadian M113 w ADATS - is this a dual AD and AT?
4. Could anyone tell me exactly what the LAV 25 is good for? Out gunned, out armored, and only four troops per vehicle. I don't get it.
5. I am not sure M1A2 tanks are useful on the US side, I haven't find a good use for them yet. It seems to me Bradleys are a much better weapon: They can kill T80 with missiles 4000 meters away with a good probability ... Since both type of vehicle die when hit by improved OPFOR warheads what is the advantage of Abrahms vs Brads?
1.

What is the game purpose of the M113 PPS5 Radar?

It can see through smoke.

2.

M113 FIST-V?

This is a specially equipped arty observation vehicle. If it has a clear line of sight to the impact of a friendly arty salvo, the accuracy of the next salvo on the same target will be increased by two levels rather than just one.

3.

Canadian M113 w ADATS - is this a dual AD and AT?

Yes, it fires a missile that is effective against both air targets and ground armor targets.

4.

Could anyone tell me exactly what the LAV 25 is good for? Out gunned, out armored, and only four troops per vehicle. I don't get it.

It is only out gunned and out armored if there are enemy tanks around. It is excellent for close, direct fire support of infantry vs infantry. It normally carries seven troops - four dismounts and three crew. In a pinch it can carry a couple more inside and a pot full on top. It provides good cross country transport. It is very fast on roads. It is easier and cheaper to maintain than a tank or tracked APC. It can be lifted by heavy helos. A lot of them can be squeezed into/onto amphibious shipping. All things considered, it fits overall Marine Corps doctrinal needs better than available tracked APCs.

5.

I am not sure M1A2 tanks are useful on the US side, I haven't find a good use for them yet. It seems to me Bradleys are a much better weapon: They can kill T80 with missiles 4000 meters away with a good probability ... Since both type of vehicle die when hit by improved OPFOR warheads what is the advantage of Abrahms vs Brads?

The M1 shows its value when you are heavily outnumbered at ranges under 2000 meters *g*. In a situation where OPFOR has weapons that can penetrate the M1A2 tank, the M1's main advantages over the Bradley are (a) the M1 has a much higher rate of fire than the Bradley and (b) the M1 is more resistant to arty attack.

In TacOPs, the M1 can fire four rounds a minute, minute after minute. The Bradley can only fire one or two TOWs per minute (depends on the range to the target) and once two TOWs have been fired in rapid succession the Bradley will not be able to fire again until its external TOW launchers have been reloaded - it takes a minimum of two minutes of inactivity to reload the launchers.

Thus, at optimum range, the M1 has a good chance of killing four enemy tanks per minute or 12 tanks per 3 minutes. The best the Bradley can hope for is two tanks per 3 minutes.

TacOps Tactics

TacOps Tactics - Defense Strategy

By Don Hill and Major Holdridge

This article summarizes a few key tactical principles for modern combat that translate well into better TacOps game play. Due to space limitations, only the most important defensive measures are discussed.

Stay focused on your mission and your enemy's mission. In TacOps, scenario victory conditions are always stated as missions. Any action that does not support mission accomplishment will usually support mission failure. There is usually more to a TacOps scenario than just charging directly toward the nearest enemy unit and slugging it out. Do not get drawn into firefights that do not contribute to mission accomplishment.

Analyze the terrain. Identify high speed avenues of approach - corridors where clear terrain or roads allow rapid movement to enemy units. Always cover these with observation and long range direct fire weapons and be prepared to move rapidly to block them with additional forces. Critical high speed avenues may need to be physically blocked by dismounted rifle units. Identify areas of rough terrain and try to channel the enemy into them by covering the easier routes with high accuracy long range weapons and or mines. An enemy armored unit moving slowly in rough terrain makes an easy target for artillery and air support. Rough terrain can often be initially defended just with observation posts, but be prepared to move in real fighting units as it becomes necessary. Compare the terrain against the enemy mission. You will often find that the enemy does not have the time or resources to use certain avenues of approach.

Analyze the general strengths and weaknesses of your units and those of your enemy. For example, if you are a Marine commander, you should recognize that Marine units have large footprints with more riflemen per unit and a good short to midrange anti-armor capability, but that they are often not very tactically mobile and are often weak in long range anti-armor weapons. Your worst problem may occur when OPFOR concentrates on one part of your defense since the rest of your force may not have the mobility to rapidly reinforce. If you are commanding an Army mechanized unit, you should recognize that you have very good mobility and a very good mid to long range anti-armor capability but that you may be weak in rifle level staying power. In this case, OPFOR's best threat may be to utilize multiple simultaneous avenues of approach either hoping to find a gap, or intending for one axis to be the main effort while the others pin or mislead you.

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of specific weapons, especially those on vehicles that frequently face each other. For example, the U.S. Bradley has a TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) that can kill armor out to 3750 meters. The OPFOR BMP has the AT5 ATGM which is slower than the TOW, but it hits at 4000 meters and beyond. If the BMP can engage the Bradley at ranges greater than 3750 meters it can kill the Bradley without risk of return fire. On the other hand, if the BMP engages the Bradley from 3000 to 3750 meters, the Bradley may have time to spot the BMP and fire the faster TOW, killing the BMP before its missile reaches the Bradley. Look for team solutions to tactical problems. The enhanced ammo of the OPFOR T-80 tank can not penetrate the front of an M-1 tank at more than 3000 meters. BMPs cannot kill the M1 tank from the front or side except with very slow to reload enhanced ATGMs. If the Bradley is teamed with the M1, the Bradley can kill the T-80 tanks before they close to within 3000 meters, the Bradleys can then pull back a bit and they and the M1 tanks can wreak havoc on the BMPs. Look for the peculiarities and advantages.

Gain and maintain contact and prevent battlefield isolation. The attacker has the initiative and will often attempt to isolate the battlefield by maneuver by concentrating his main force against only one sector of the defense. The focal point of the attack becomes isolated from reinforcement when more distant defensive units are unable to maneuver towards the point of decision either through faulty intelligence (fog of war ) or due to being pinned by minor enemy supporting attacks. Early and constant observation of the enemy forces are the keys to avoiding isolation. The defender must be able to observe the attacking forces early enough to both attrit them at long range and to assess their intended focal point so that the defense may be reinforced at that point. To do this the defender must not confine himself to the initial deployment limitations of the set up. Scouts and observation posts (OPs) should be pushed forward to cover all mission significant enemy avenues of approach. OPs should be redundant and they should be positioned to provide overlapping coverage of critical areas so that the loss of one OP to enemy action or its being masked by smoke or terrain does not create a large blind spot. OPs should generally not fire and reveal their position unless they are about to be overrun. Some defensive OPs should allow themselves to be bypassed so that they may continue to provide intelligence and to control long range artillery fires from behind the attackers.

Once the attacking forces are discovered, they usually should be engaged immediately. Generally it its best to first engage distant attackers with artillery and air support rather than direct fire to avoid prematurely revealing the trace of the positions of your short to medium range weapons. This is especially true if the attacker is deployed with much of his strength forward. Artillery can destroy anything on the battlefield, particularly with ICM, but artillery must have forward observers for maximum effect. The proper use of forward observers and artillery will go far in disrupting an enemy attack. If the enemy is leading with a small reconnaissance force, it may be more appropriate to engage the scouts with a few high accuracy, long range direct fire weapons so that you can immediately blind him and to prevent the reconnaissance elements from exposing your main positions. Try to take out such small advance forces with only a few concentrated volleys and then move any of your units that have fired to nearby alternate positions to await the main body. This is best done with forward deployed units, skirmishers, if you will, that briefly engage the lead enemy units and then retire using terrain and smoke to cover their withdrawal. This screening force must avoid becoming decisively engaged by the main enemy force.

The defender also has a means to isolate portions of the battlefield. The key to the concept is to concentrate units and to position them in a manner that allows them to momentarily engage a smaller piece of the enemy force. For example, as OPFOR units advance to contact, they will often be strung out in a column of variable density and length. The defender can place himself at an angle to or on the flank of this advance, using elevation differences, towns, and or woods to initially screen himself from direct observation by the attacking units. As enemy units begin to pass through the screening terrain, the leading elements will become exposed. Since trailing enemy units will not yet be able to see the defenders, the defenders will be able to destroy the more forward attackers piecemeal without being subjected to return fire by the entire enemy force. If enemy reaction is sluggish and he continues to feed his troops into the kill zone after the initial ambush, this tactic can be continued from the same or nearby alternate firing positions. If the enemy reacts well and begins to deploy against your flanks, then immediately move to positions that will provide a similar terrain advantage against his flanking maneuver. This technique is known as terrain masking by angle.

The same tactic can be based on terrain masking by elevation. In this case, the opposing forces are on significantly different ground elevations. The opponents cannot see each other until the leading attacking units crest a hill. The defending force can then engage and destroy just the leading units, again without being exposed to return fire from the entire enemy force.

There are variations, such as using smoke to separate the leading attacking units from following units, but the concept remains the same.

Whenever possible the defense should be conducted as a mobile defense that withdraws through a series of temporary fighting positions to a final point of decision. Until the attacker is heavily attrited, the defender should avoid decisive engagement. The initial formula should generally be: observe, engage with artillery, engage briefly with long range direct fire weapons and withdraw those weapons, engage briefly with mid range weapons and withdraw those weapons. Repeat this until either the enemy has been reduced to a manageable size or there is nowhere left to withdraw to - this is the point of decision. Assuming surprise fire is still possible, the defender's first goal at this last position is to kill as many targets as possible in the first few volleys of direct fire. After that the only choice remaining is usually to maintain fire, maintain position, and ride out the attack.

TacOps Tactics - Offensive Strategy

By Don Hill and Major Holdridge.

Mission accomplishment is the standard by which success or failure is judged. Focus your plan of attack primarily on the mission and secondarily on the enemy. Individual enemy units are only relevant to the degree that they can interfere with the accomplishment of your mission. Do not become so caught up in fighting that you forget your mission.

Once you understand the mission, the next step is to analyze friendly and enemy forces and their capabilities. If you are commanding OPFOR and your force is composed of T80s and BTRs, the T80s will be about the only effective weapon you have for engaging enemy vehicles at long range. In this case, you cannot afford to pause and slug it out with a mechanized defender. You must rely on speed, artillery support, and the mass of numbers to close with and overwhelm the enemy. If your force is composed of T80s and BMPs you will be able to engage in a more deliberate attack , perhaps even a multi stage approach, since your BMPs can engage enemy APCs and IFVs at long range, and can even kill the M1 tank if enhanced ATGMs are being used.

As the US commander you should note that the M1 can kill anything on the battlefield from any aspect at great range, and that it has superior armor to the OPFOR tanks. Without improved ATGMs, only the T80 can kill the M1 from the front or sides. This usually makes the M1 the best choice to lead any advance. If your force consists of M1s and Bradley IFVs the Bradleys should usually trail the M1s by 500 to 1000 meters. If your force consists of LAVs and M1s, the M1s should usually still lead but you will have to approach the enemy more carefully, taking maximum advantage of terrain masking. Only the M1s and a few LAV TOW vehicles will be able to kill T80 tanks and just about anything can kill an ordinary LAV25. The same applies with a force of AAV7s and M1s, but you must be even more careful in your attack. The AAV7s simply carry too many Infantrymen to be rashly exposed to enemy fire. If there is enough time, dismount the Javelins in the AAV7s to overwatch the advance, but never lead with these huge APCs.

When analyzing the enemy force you must consider his ability to maneuver and his fire capabilities. If the enemy force consists almost entirely of unmechanized infantry, then he will not be able to reinforce the point of attack rapidly. In this case, you may want to focus your attack on a rapid assault of one small area of the battlefield. Attacking unmechanized infantry on a wide frontage will usually only work to your disadvantage as it exposes you to a greater number of short range infantry weapons. If the defender is mobile, attack at multiple points but focus on one as the main effort and threaten the others with supporting or diversionary efforts. Supporting attacks will tend to keep the defender from being able to shift his troop line and from being able to concentrate artillery and air support at the point of decision . Be alert to exploit unexpected success on the part of a supporting attack. A supporting attack may find a gap in the defense or the enemy may recognize the main effort early on and choose to ignore the supporting attacks. In such a case it is possible that a supporting attack will encounter so little opposition that it should immediately assume the role of the main effort.

Analysis of the enemy fire capability is important for choosing target selection. If the enemy forces consist of BTRs or BMPs without improved ATGMs, then only the T80 will be able to kill the M1. In this case, the T80 should be the US's priority target. Once all are eliminated, the M1 will be able to dominate the long and mid range battlefield. When fighting Marine forces, TOWs and M1s should be the priority targets due to their maneuverability, and long range lethality. All exposed infantry and ATGM teams are highly susceptible to casualties and suppression from artillery fire. Just a suppression result will greatly reduce infantry's movement speed, rate of fire, and accuracy. ATGM teams should always be a special priority for artillery.

When analyzing the terrain for offensive operations you should first consider the time available to accomplish your mission. Next identify all reasonable attack routes or avenues of approach that will meet your mission time limit. Mentally identify likely enemy unit defensive positions along each route and select the route that offers the best potential for coping with them. The obvious advantage of a high speed avenue of approach, such as a road or open terrain, is that it takes the attacker less time to close with the defender and thus the defender has less time to adjust artillery and to engage in direct fire. Fewer shots by the defender translates directly into fewer kills. Being able to speed through incoming artillery is especially advantages to the attacker. The primary considerations in deciding whether to attack using a high speed avenue of approach is the expected density of enemy long range weapons defending that route and how much of the route they command. High defender density combined with long range line of sight usually means disaster for a high speed attack. In such a case, you should look for a more covered route, take the time for an extended artillery bombardment, and in general make a more deliberate attack. However, if you have very little time allowed for your mission, then you must use the most direct attack route, regardless of consequences. In such a case, using your supporting artillery for widely roving general suppression may prove more beneficial than concentrating it for killing effect.

Using a low speed avenue of approach through rough terrain, woods, or a town also has its advantages. They generally offer long range concealment from enemy observation and best case, some units may avoid detection altogether. Even if you are spotted, such terrain often reduces the enemy's direct fire hit probability significantly. It is also likely that these approaches are less heavily defended than the high speed avenues. The disadvantages are that once attackers are spotted in rough terrain, their slower movement makes them easier to hit with artillery and allows the defender more time for direct fire. Also, the slower rate of advance will give the defender more time to shift reinforcements to directly face or flank your attack.

Both the attacker and defender struggle to control the pace and events of the battlefield. One way to achieve control is to isolate a portion of battlefield so that only a portion of the enemy's forces are able to participate in an engagement thus enabling you to overwhelm them with firepower. One way the attacker can isolate the battlefield is by maneuver. If the defending force consists mostly of unmechanized Infantry, then the attacker can use either surprise or superior mobility to focus his forces at one point faster than the enemy can reinforce .

Another way the attacker can isolate the battlefield is by using the terrain to restrict observation and exposure to direct fire. Attacking formations can take advantage of terrain elevation masking to advance in tighter formations while out of the line of sight of known enemy positions with a pause just before an elevation change to deploy into a more on line attack formation. As discussed in a previous article, terrain masking by elevation can work to the defender's advantage by suddenly exposing the attacking forces piecemeal to defending units at a different elevation. The attacker can reduce the effects of this by crossing elevation changes with his units more on line. When the attacker crosses elevation changes in this manner he is more likely to achieve fire superiority in an isolated enemy kill zone and to avoid piecemeal attrition.

As extended formations pass around woods or hills, leading elements may become exposed to fire while trailing units are still out of sight. For a moment, trailing units cannot support the leaders since their line of sight is still blocked by the nearby terrain feature. This is terrain masking by angle. The attacker can take similar advantage from terrain masking by angle as was discussed for masking by elevation. Crossing such terrain in mass or on line is just as helpful in reducing the effectiveness of masking by angle as it is against masking by elevation. If the attacker has enough time he can reduce the threat of terrain masking by moving through or over terrain that blocks line of sight in mass or on line. If the terrain feature is woods or town, the leading units should pause at the edge of the terrain feature and provide overwatch as trailing units move up to and perhaps pass through their position. Not only will the attacker have more forces to return fire, the units providing overwatch will be stationary and in cover thus increasing their chances to spot and hit and giving them added protection from fire.

STRATEGY SECTION

Someone recently asked me for a PBEM critique of a TF Savage game. The message that follows is that info restated without the personal notes *g*.

Critical Item One: In the defense, you must maintain contact if you are to be able to track the enemy. You want to track the enemy so that you can predict his attack routes and then react to them by repositioning your defense. Contact does not necessarily mean shooting - you can maintain contact just through observation. You must have an adequate security and observation screen. When on the defense you need to put out as many observation posts (OPs) as you can spare. You also need to overlap the OP's coverage so that when one gets eliminated or smoked there is another nearby which can still see what is going on. You should strive to always know within a kilometer where the major enemy elements are. When you know where the enemy is and or his route of advance then you can move units to intercept him. Just as important is knowing where the enemy is not. If through good battlefield observation, you know that the enemy is not in a given area in force, then you can pull friendlies out of that area to reinforce the developing point or points of decision.

Critical Item Two: Maintain worthwhile mobile reserves. Often you need two different kinds of mobile reserves. You should have one at least one reserve force consisting of medium and long range anti armor weapons for distant ambush/armor plinking. The other reserve force should consist of infantry with light anti armor weapons to be used to physically block a critical avenue of approach or to backstop a unit that is about to be overrun. As soon as you commit a reserve force try to build another to take its place - look for folks in non threatened areas to move to some central location to become the new reserve.

1. This brings to mind a point I've meant to inquire on. I'm often tempted to leave behind "sacrificial" observation or ambush teams, with no realistic chance for their survival or extraction. Is that practice at all consistent with Western (or, for that matter, OPFOR) doctrine?
2. This group was a sitting duck, because I didn't want to move them out of their defensive position. I would like to make my defense less static and more spread out so that he cannot shell massed troops, but I want my troops to be in good defensive positions.
3. This is important, I think. There's absolutely no reason (at least not in general), to start releasing at the first possible moment. Sure, due to one being in covering terrain and being unspotted, one will probably kill more units than one loses - but this advantage won't disappear as a result of waiting. What _is_ important is to see the enemy for as much of the time as possible.
4. When playing TacOps, I often do much the same thing with my observation posts. My OPs will stand until overrun, but the information they provide is invaluable when considering it helps to prevent an even greater loss. Yet, I would sure hate to be the poor slobs being overrun.
5. It seems sometimes I have command of a sharpshooting high kill ratio formation, other times a command that can`t hit anything let alone kill it ?
6. A general problem seen is that there is no reason to have units in reserve, at a tactical level. For instance, one person may want to deploy his tanks in a V formation. He wants four tanks to the left, four to the right and the last four in the middle but back about 200 meters. In the game all this means is the front tanks will be defeated/eliminated and then the back tanks will come up and be eliminated. We game players know that you put all tanks up so that the survivors can fire back at the bad guys and survive the second combat pulse.
7. I have'nt figuered out how to move my units forward without becoming ambush meat. Further, it seems that even in a full frontal assault, my units don't seem to fire often or soon after the enemy has begun firing. Any suggestions about offensive strategy would be welcome.
1.

This brings to mind a point I've meant to inquire on. I'm often tempted to leave behind "sacrificial" observation or ambush teams, with no realistic chance for their survival or extraction. Is that practice at all consistent with Western (or, for that matter, OPFOR) doctrine?

Inserting observation posts into enemy held areas has been a standard tactic - especially in counter insurgency ops. However I think intentionally leaving a team behind to be bypassed by advancing enemy units would be an unusual tactic for a modern US commander. On the other hand, I remember knowing as a Marine infantry Lt that 'observe and report' was a standing order for cut off or bypassed units. Also, several times in field training I was told to leave a fireteam behind as a hidden observation post to adjust arty and air support while the rest of the company displaced to a new position - the team was expected to later escape and evade to a pickup point. Things like this don't seem particularly unreasonable to me for light infantry ops (i.e. everybody is on foot). I suspect the pucker factor would go way up if somebody told me to try it with a Bradley or a HMMWV. A brief search of my Military Reference Library CD produced one US doctrinal note on this. FM 7-93 Long-Range Surveillance Unit Operations, page 3-15 says ... 'Stay-Behind Technique. The [recon] team purposely allows itself to be passed by the enemy to perform a specific mission.' In the 80s I attended several NATO defense plan briefings which included predesignated 'stay behind' teams in the friendly order of battle. These teams were not comprised of US troops.

2.

This group was a sitting duck, because I didn't want to move them out of their defensive position. I would like to make my defense less static and more spread out so that he cannot shell massed troops, but I want my troops to be in good defensive positions.

Holding ground is often not important. Killing OPFOR is what counts. When you first start receiving arty it is time to go somewhere else fast - you have to get out of there before his arty fire gets accurate.

3.

This is important, I think. There's absolutely no reason (at least not in general), to start releasing at the first possible moment. Sure, due to one being in covering terrain and being unspotted, one will probably kill more units than one loses - but this advantage won't disappear as a result of waiting. What _is_ important is to see the enemy for as much of the time as possible.

It is different now, but for much of my time in the Marine Corps, published doctrine was to employ a defense that engaged the attacker as soon as possible with whatever weapon could reach him at the instant. Most direct fire weapons were located more or less on line. The idea was that this would cause the attacker to travel through an ever increasing volume of fire. First he would be engaged by air attack, then by arty, then by TOWs, then by tank gun, then by mortar, then by heavy machine gun, then by medium machine gun, then by Dragon, and finally by rifle fire and LAAW. Each weapon system would join in the firing as soon as the attacker advanced into that weapon's max effective range. Such a defense might be useful against repelling a WWII banzai attack or a Korean War human wave attack, but I think TacOps accurately shows such a defense to be terribly flawed in a situation where the attacker has good comms and responsive arty and where the attacker precedes his main force with a thin line of recon/skirmishers. In the latter situation, the piecemeal firing of long range direct fire weapons at their max effective range just gives the attacker an early opportunity to take them out with arty.

In my opinion the optimum defense would be one that engages the attacker only with arty, mortar, and air for as long as possible so as not to reveal the trace of the direct fire defense positions. Direct fire should be withheld until it can be delivered simultaneously by as many weapons as possible in a devastating opening volley. What happens next depends on the terrain and situation but I am convinced that in general - whether a defender wins or loses the direct fire fight that follows this initial concentrated volley - he should move the bulk of his forces to new defensive positions as soon as possible to avoid the arty barrage that is sure to follow.

4.

When playing TacOps, I often do much the same thing with my observation posts. My OPs will stand until overrun, but the information they provide is invaluable when considering it helps to prevent an even greater loss. Yet, I would sure hate to be the poor slobs being overrun.

If it is any comfort, you don't have to consider the overrun infantry units in TacOps as always being "dead or captured". It is plausible that they went into hiding or escaped but that the nature of their situation became such that they were not combat effective or able to contact higher headquarters again for the time remaining in the scenario.

Were I too add a campaign mode of play to TacOps, I would likely usually restore a very large percentage of the unit losses (especially foot infantry) in one scenario for the begining of the next scenario. These would not be new guys or replacements - they would be troops and equipment that had returned to a state of combat effectiveness or that had regained command and control.

5.

It seems sometimes I have command of a sharpshooting high kill ratio formation, other times a command that can`t hit anything let alone kill it ?

Fortunes of war - however some general rules of thumb - units that shoot first from good, covered, unspotted positions will be rewarded - units that get surprised in weak positions will be punished - units that fire too long from the same position will tend to get punished. Also, if some of your units get royally nailed in a fire fight or experience several consecutive minutes of effective arty attack you need to try to pull them out of harms way for a few minutes. A lot of folks don't pay much attention to all those "S" (suppression) results produced by effective arty fire - that is a mistake *g*.

6.

A general problem seen is that there is no reason to have units in reserve, at a tactical level. For instance, one person may want to deploy his tanks in a V formation. He wants four tanks to the left, four to the right and the last four in the middle but back about 200 meters. In the game all this means is the front tanks will be defeated/eliminated and then the back tanks will come up and be eliminated. We game players know that you put all tanks up so that the survivors can fire back at the bad guys and survive the second combat pulse.

I almost always see a need for a reserve except usually not at platoon level and sometimes not at company level. Depends on the terrain and the situation. The same thing would happen in real life if the leading tanks could be seen and shot at and if the following tanks could not yet see who was shooting at (i.e. killing) the leading tanks. In rough terrain, a loose V formation can be the same thing as committing your tanks piecemeal. You are just parading into the kill zone.

7.

I have'nt figuered out how to move my units forward without becoming ambush meat. Further, it seems that even in a full frontal assault, my units don't seem to fire often or soon after the enemy has begun firing. Any suggestions about offensive strategy would be welcome.

You might want to pick up the next issue of Strategy Plus magazine. [4] The current issue (January) has an article on TacOps defensive strategy and the next issue (February) will have an article on offensive strategy.

In a nutshell ... in the offense you want to cross elevation changes and blocking terrain in mass so that you don't get in a situation where your guys in the rear can't support the guys in front. When you hit an ambush you want everyone up front to return fire. Walk artillery missions ahead of your advance - target likely ambush sites before you start getting fire. Artillery even when it does not kill, reduces the accuracy and rate of fire of enemy units in its impact zone.

If at all possible don't do frontal assaults. Back out of the kill zone and try flanking the enemy. You get big advantages from firing at the sides and rear of defending units, even those in entrenchments.

Bottom line though is when you are in the offense you are gonna take some lumps. That is why you usually have a 2 or 3 to 1 advantage in force in the offensive scenarios.

TACTICS SECTION

If you lose a platoon of armor to concentrated enemy fire at less than a thousand meters, don't send another platoon into the very same position five minutes later *g*. When you are on the defense, you should generally try to avoid advancing toward the enemy as much as possible- move laterally and to the rear, but avoid poking directly toward the enemy. You know where the enemy must go to accomplish the mission - position yourself to cover the ground that he must cross and wait for them to come to you.

Avoid massing Javelin ATGM teams in one marker and don't position them in exposed areas and away from transport. If an ATGM has a large field of view then so does the enemy. In such situations the ATGMs may toast a couple of vehicles but they will then be inundated with return fire and enemy arty. With no transport and with no covered avenue of escape nearby they can not fire a quick volley and then scoot to another position.

Machine guns are anti armor weapons if you are fighting BTRs and if you can get flanking and rear shots. Spread them out and position them with your SMAW teams. Let the enemy BTRs get within 500 meters and you can burn up a lot of them.

Don't automatically position troops right on the edge of your mission objective at game startup especially not ATGM teams - it is often a waste of weapons. You want to heavily attrit the enemy as far away from the objective as possible. By the time OPFOR gets in sight of the objective it is often too late if he has a good number of wheels and tracks left. Static objective defense forces are often better used with trucks and APCs as a mobile reserve. If towards the end of the game it becomes obvious that OPFOR is going to be able to roll within sight of the objective then at the last possible moment you break contact wherever you can and you retreat some units into final defensive positions on the perimeter of the objective.

Spread out your infantry more if they are meant to physically block an avenue of approach to the objective or to be used in a point blank range anti armor ambush. In defensive situations, split the rifle platoons into squads and spread them out shoulder to shoulder. If possible put a second much weaker and thinner line just behind the first. If you do this you won't find whole platoons being taken out of the fight at a critical moment by enemy smoke.

1. ...should I use recon infantry by driving them up and unloading them in a strategic position?
2. Once you see the enemy, put smoke between him and your main defensive position (not on the enemy, he'll just drive thru it)..
3. My question is how do I establish a Forward Observation position, or Ambush when my forces cannot see outward from a slope!
4. I need a tactical primer ...
5. Is it best to use 'real-life' insertion techniques - i.e. dummy drop-offs?
6. Can anyone tell me a good technique to position my units such that I can ensure that they can back up immediately after firing and disappear from enemies' view. I know about SOP but my difficulty is with positioning units in woods/town just at the threshold of having a LOS to the outside.
7. How does one copy and paste SOP orders? If I have a subset of units which I want to copy a given unit's SOP orders to, how do I do it without opening and closing every desired unit's marker?
8. The best strategy I found was setting up all 18 of my Apaches exactly 4000 meters (limit of visibility) from a spot I expected opfor to march through. This let my helicopters concentrate their fire on one unit at a time -- at least while the bad guys stayed in road march columns - which resulted in whole units of 14 BMPs being obliterated in much less than a turn. The only problem is that it felt a lot like one of those dreaded game tricks to me.
9. They [120mm mortars] probably result in more dead javelin crews than all other stuff together! Does anyone have tips on how to avoid this ?
10. Maybe I just can't execute this move very well, but once they come in contact, sending APCs in to get them results in a high (unacceptably high) level of APC casualties.
11. Is there an easy way to determine if a weapon can penetrate the armor of a particular enemy unit? I want to avoid putting certain units in the way of enemy units if they can't even be effective.
12. What is the best way to get rid of the pesky things [UAVs] as the OPFOR player?
13. HINTS?
14. Is it realistic to set up an infantry unit, on top of a hill, put a Bradley on the bottom of the hill, shoot the infantry, load and load it before the enemy has an opportunity to respond.
15. When ever I try this in the way you describe I end up with a bunch of dead Bradlys and no(or very low) infantry because they couldn't get out in time. How close to aproach before dismounting and how far back should the Tanks sit? Should I be using smoke as well if I have thermal sites?
1.

...should I use recon infantry by driving them up and unloading them in a strategic position?

Yes - if you can do so without any chance of their being observed while enroute to or while occupying the strategic position. A recon unit is no good if the enemy knows where it is - arty usually makes short work of them in such situations. It might be better for you to settle for setting up your observation and recon screen farther back (i.e. to the west) so that you can be sure that they get into position unobserved. Heck ... in the case of map 1, you have 15 kilometers to play with. Don't get hung up on trying to keep the enemy from gaining some ground. Let him have all the ground that he is willing to pay for. Cheerfully let him bleed across the whole length of it if necessary *g*. Once you kill the last BMP you can have all that ground back just by holding a parade *g*.

2.

Once you see the enemy, put smoke between him and your main defensive position (not on the enemy, he'll just drive thru it)..

It can also be useful to put smoke directly on advancing units - if you mix in an ICM volley from a second arty unit. Units slow down while in smoke and thus become somewhat easier to engage with arty.

3.

My question is how do I establish a Forward Observation position, or Ambush when my forces cannot see outward from a slope!

There is a 'magic' zone along the 'uphill' side of the TacOps elevation contour line. The contour line in most TacOps maps is a dark green line that separates high ground from lower ground. The zone is about ten screen pixels wide (a hundred meters more or less). If the center point of a unit marker is in that zone, then that unit can see both high ground in all directions and can also see the low ground that falls away from the nearby contour line. In other words, if you position a unit marker just 'uphill' of a contour line then that unit can observe both high and low ground.

4.

I need a tactical primer ...

Below are some tactical primers that you might actually be able to find in a local bookstore.

"Armor Attacks" and "Infantry Combat" (large format paperbacks) by LtCol John Antal.

The following books are fiction paperbacks but for modern weapons and tactics info they are as good as a lot of nonfiction works: "Team Yankee", "Sword Point", and "Bright Star" all by Harold Coyle, and "Red Storm Rising" by Tom Clancy.

Or call the Marine Corps Association at 1-800-336-0291 and order their book called "Mastering Tactics" by Major John F. Schmitt, USMCR. $11.95 for Association members and $14.95 for non-members. This is a 8 1/2" x 11" work book that breaks down 15 of the Tactical Decision Games that appear every month in the Marine Corps Gazette. The scenarios cover everything from squad to battalion level engagements with detailed maps and the book includes an excellent Table of Organization for the USMC.

5.

Is it best to use 'real-life' insertion techniques - i.e. dummy drop-offs?

Yes. Or approach the LZ at nap of the earth altitude via a path that you are sure can not be observed by OPFOR. In the case of moving units it is also helpful to not move long distances in a straight line. If the AI is going after a moving target it will often plot its arty targets to fall well ahead of the current position of the moving unit based on the speed and facing of the moving US unit when it was last observed. The AI can also shift arty fire that is already falling the same as the human player can but the AI is probably better at predicting a moving unit's future position (based on facing and speed) than most human players.

6.

Can anyone tell me a good technique to position my units such that I can ensure that they can back up immediately after firing and disappear from enemies' view. I know about SOP but my difficulty is with positioning units in woods/town just at the threshold of having a LOS to the outside.

Visualize about where you want the unit to be on the edge of the woods. Then use the line of sight tool to find the point near there that is the most inboard from the edge of the wood but that can still see out - does not have to be exact - with vehicles you can usually be off by five or six pixels but the more accurately you place the center the better. Place your unit at that point and set its SOP to backup after firing. The unit will fire, and will immediately begin to back up. Since it only has a few pixels (40 or 50 meters) to move until line of sight will be blocked, the unit will usually get away without suffering return fire - unless it was already spotted before it fired.

The special spotting buffer zones at the edge of woods, towns, and high ground is 100 meters or ten pixels wide (give or take a couple of pixels from what the map shows). Given your monitor settings, visualize how wide ten pixels is. Then visualize the center point of a unit marker - as long as that center point is anywhere in that ten pixel wide buffer zone then you are OK. Unit position, line of sight, and spotting are all calculated from the center point of the unit marker.

Or put another way ...

The outermost 100 meters of high ground, woods, and town terrain (ten pixels plus or minus a pixel or two) provide a dual spotting zone. In the case of high ground it relates to the ability to see from the high ground down to low ground. In the case of woods and town terrain it relates to seeing out. From the first or outermost 100 meters above the contour line a unit can see both all otherwise unblocked high ground and all otherwise unblocked low ground. If the unit backs away from this 100 meter buffer, then it will only be able to see units that are on high ground. If it crosses the contour - headed downhill - then it will only be able to see units that are either on low ground or that are themselves right next to a high ground contour. In the outermost 100 meters of woods and town terrain you can see and shoot out of the woods and town but your visibility to the enemy is greatly reduced (until you fire). For visualizing LOS, you need to key on the center point of the unit marker. If you are "in the zone" and if you are using one of the larger marker sets, a lot of the unit marker will appear to actually be out of the woods. Again, it is where the center point of the marker is that is important for LOS.

7.

How does one copy and paste SOP orders? If I have a subset of units which I want to copy a given unit's SOP orders to, how do I do it without opening and closing every desired unit's marker?

Select the unit whose SOP you want to copy - either by holding down the Shift key and clicking on the unit or by dragging out a selection rectangle that surrounds the unit marker. Then select the Orders/Copy SOP menu item. Then select the unit or units that you want to paste to - either by holding down the Shift key and clicking on one or more units in turn or by dragging out a selection rectangle that surrounds one or more unit markers. Then select the Orders/Paste SOP menu item. A similar method also works for copying and pasting orders.

8.

The best strategy I found was setting up all 18 of my Apaches exactly 4000 meters (limit of visibility) from a spot I expected opfor to march through. This let my helicopters concentrate their fire on one unit at a time -- at least while the bad guys stayed in road march columns - which resulted in whole units of 14 BMPs being obliterated in much less than a turn. The only problem is that it felt a lot like one of those dreaded game tricks to me.

Ganging up Apaches at extreme range on isolated enemy units is not a game trick - it is good tactics.

9.

They [120mm mortars] probably result in more dead javelin crews than all other stuff together! Does anyone have tips on how to avoid this ?

Fire a volley or two and then immediately move your Javelin teams several hundread meters to a new firing position.

10.

Maybe I just can't execute this move very well, but once they come in contact, sending APCs in to get them results in a high (unacceptably high) level of APC casualties.

There is rarely time to "send APCs in" to get ATGM teams. The APCs have to be colocates with the Javelin gunners at the firing position so that they can load up right after the volley and scoot to a new firing position by a concealed route (i.e. a route that is out of observation of the enemy).

11.

Is there an easy way to determine if a weapon can penetrate the armor of a particular enemy unit? I want to avoid putting certain units in the way of enemy units if they can't even be effective.

Use the Unit and Weapon Data Base reports in the Report Menu to study the armor thickness of various units and the penetration capability of various weapons.

12.

What is the best way to get rid of the pesky things [UAVs] as the OPFOR player?

Helos will go after UAVs (air strikes will not). The ZSU-23-4 AAA and ZU-23 AAA do ok if the UAV comes close enough. Whatever you use, it will usually take a good number of firings to down a UAV.

13.

HINTS?

Advice from a TacOps user: If you have trouble with entrenchments containing infantry, put artillery smoke over them and drive up with an M-1. Set the tank's SOP for "Pop smoke and stop after firing" and "Pop smoke and stop after being fired at". This lets you drive the M-1 through the smoke which blinds the RPGs. The M-1 will probably see the entrenchment before the defenders see the M-1, so after it fires, it will stop where it is, and should be out of range of the RPGs. The pop smoke effect is just a precaution in case the artillery smoke screen dissipates before you anticipated. The tank will eliminate the defenders in one or two minutes.

14.

Is it realistic to set up an infantry unit, on top of a hill, put a Bradley on the bottom of the hill, shoot the infantry, load and load it before the enemy has an opportunity to respond.

It is realistic for defending infantry to be able to choose to expose themselves for one quick volley and then to immediately drop into cover or to immediately move with relative safety to another firing position. This is one of the few capabilities of infantry that is a real world problem for tankers to deal with *g*. The game method that you are mentioning is the only way to simulate this in TacOps. As long as it is not abused, I have no problem with it. I can see how others might disagree.

15.

When ever I try this in the way you describe I end up with a bunch of dead Bradlys and no(or very low) infantry because they couldn't get out in time. How close to aproach before dismounting and how far back should the Tanks sit? Should I be using smoke as well if I have thermal sites?

If attacking with Bradleys, you should dismount beyond or at the extreme end of OPFOR RPG range. Smoke is almost always helpful for infantry assaults as it blinds the RPG gunners and other non ATGM equipped infantry.

OPFOR SECTION

1. I noticed that when a group of Opfor vehicles are sighted/hit by artillery that they disperse in all directions...is that current Soviet policy? I'd have thought that they would continue to advance.
2. does the OPFOR notify the reinforcements "at the start of the scenario" or only after they start taking fire?
1.

I noticed that when a group of Opfor vehicles are sighted/hit by artillery that they disperse in all directions...is that current Soviet policy? I'd have thought that they would continue to advance.

I would think that dispersing under effective arty fire is both doctrine and the prudent tactic. In TacOps, once the OPFOR companies disperse into platoons, they generally resume their on-line advance as soon as they can get reorganized. As an experiment you might turn off the fog of war and watch them maneuver.

2.

does the OPFOR notify the reinforcements "at the start of the scenario" or only after they start taking fire?

At the start. I figure the incoming helos would be picked up on radar or visually well before reaching the compound.

OPFOR ARTILLERY

1. I also recall seeing somewhere (TacOps Gazette or FAQ) that OPFOR artillery tends to be more accurate than our artillery.
2. I think OPFOR often has preplanned artillery missions at points of obvious cover.
3. What kind of targeting bonuses does the OPFOR get for their artillery, if any?
4. I was playing TF Peterjohn the other night and OPFOR seemed to be dropping HE all over the map at potential ambush locations with high accuracy (i.e. right on the edge of the southern ridge, on the edge of the town, etc.), with no "mis-fires" I see when I've got accuracy 0.
1.

I also recall seeing somewhere (TacOps Gazette or FAQ) that OPFOR artillery tends to be more accurate than our artillery.

OPFOR artillery is slightly, initially more accurate when you are playing against the AI. Against a human player, OPFOR arty is slightly less accurate than US arty and is somewhat slower to initially arrive. The AI has two advantages not allowed to a human player and I think both of these are documented in either the manual or in the FAQ file. The AI gets a one level advantage in first salvo accuracy of observed artillery fire (but not air) and its APCs can pick up dismounted troops at a slightly greater distance than the human is allowed to. Both of these items were compromises that eliminated huge blocks of AI code and they do not significantly affect game outcome.

2.

I think OPFOR often has preplanned artillery missions at points of obvious cover.

Correct. Such terrain targets will be engaged randomly if the AI has no recent, legally spotted, US unit targets.

3.

What kind of targeting bonuses does the OPFOR get for their artillery, if any?

The computer opponent's arty often starts at accuracy level 1 (still not very accurate) for its first volley. After that it works the same as for the human player - i.e. if observed it gets better, if not then it gets worse.

4.

I was playing TF Peterjohn the other night and OPFOR seemed to be dropping HE all over the map at potential ambush locations with high accuracy (i.e. right on the edge of the southern ridge, on the edge of the town, etc.), with no "mis-fires" I see when I've got accuracy 0.

Just coincidence. You probably don't notice all the times it misses horribly with its "searching fire" or the times it engages with HE when ICM would have been better.

A big reason why the AI often gets very good use out of its air and arty assets is that it maintains a running target list just as a good human player would. The target list contains recent US unit positions that were legally acquired by spotting and it contains points on the map that would be good places for the US player to use in a given scenario. If the AI is in the attack, the target list also includes terrain points that would make good US defensive positions . At the end of each combat phase, the AI plans its orders for the next turn just as the human player does. The AI looks at its target list and it usually selects arty and air targets based on the most recent spottings of valuable US units. If it doesn't have any solid unit spottings to work with, then it will randomly target nearby terrain that would make good US attack or defensive positions. The AI also notices when it gets secondary explosions and may decide to "stick" to an area for several turns.

But also keep in mind that you don't have to leave them there as sitting ducks. You can (and should) plan some escape route for them when their main usefulness is served. You could extract them using some mobile element. But you can also just move them back into deep cover.

This is an excellent example of one of the many ways to improve the realism of wargame play by the setting of personal goals - i.e. adding handicaps and conditions that are not enforced by the game engine. Playing a wargame while giving realistic consideration to preserving the lives of your troops adds another whole level of challenge.

TIPS

The TacOps Gazette is an informal (very informal) compilation of TacOps user email and forum postings and my responses to them. I save everything about TacOps that is sent to me privately or that is posted on a public forum. Every couple of weeks I go through the pile and I summarize the more interesting material into an "issue" of the Gazette. I then post this as one long note (usually 9 to 18K) on a couple of Internet game newsgroups and on games forums on a couple of national info services.

This issue is a slightly edited digest of a recent public thread from an Internet newsgroup. The original posters provided excellect game play tips.

Topic: TacOps: reconnaissance in the offensive

============== John M.

What's the right way of carrying out recon. on the attack ? Do you just send scouts forward and watch them get blown up (and where from) ? Do you sneak them to a place under cover from where you can register artillery on potential sites of resistance ? (the second seems to take a lot of time)

Sub-question 1: is using air strikes as speculative recon. a good idea, or is it a waste ?

Sub-question 2: is "reconaissance in force" a viable concept at the TacOps level (or is it rather a strategic concept) ?

I read somewhere about the WWII commander Jochen Peiper's recon technique: sending half- tracks down the road and pushing until they got blown up. The Soviets seem to have done the same with penal battalions. But what about modern tactical doctrine in these matters ?

============== Jim S.

In my experience, the best way to recon in TacOps is to set engagement distance to 0, set SOP to unload when fired on, and push forward as long as you can till you get shot at/blowed up. If you can drop some infantry off along the way for backup recon, that's great. The only problem with the above method is the bad guys 'know' where they blew you up and probably suspect you have an infantry guy there. With that knowledge, they can send a couple of tanks to zap you, or just 'smoke' you so you can't spot.

============== Eric G.

Reminds me of the old joke about American armored cars in World War II -- the standard crew of an M8 was said to be three: a driver, commander and a priest.

Often times this is how mechanized/armored recon works on the offensive, especially if the offensive is a concerted drive. You spread a screen of scouts out ahead and wait till they bump into something. Now, the scouts don't have to be stupid and drive around in the open with a banner flying saying "Shoot Me!" You can use terrain, maneuver, etc to minimize your vulnerabillity, but ultimately when advancing into unknown territory, the quickest way to find out where the enemy usually involves getting shot at.

There are other ways of reconning and combining other assets with your scouts to help maximize your resources and minimize your vulnerabillity.

First, try adding in a UAV or a flight of helicopters, and use them to scout ahead. If you don't want to do that, you can use "recon by fire" -- advancing artillery out ahead of your scouts, hitting likely enemy hiding places and waiting to see what scurries out or blows up. Cover your advancing scouts with smoke (really great if your enemy doesn't have thermals.) Break up your scout units into individual vehicles and spread them out a bit -- don't run them all down the road in a nice neat column. Use "scout and move" -- advance some, put some in overwatch. It takes some doing, but it is a little more effective than just advancing them and seeing what happens. Combining all of these assets or techniques can really help you in scouting -- but it takes time. And you can almost always be assured that you'll miss something, and the only way you'll find it is when your Bradley or LAV goes *BOOM*.

[Using air stikes as speculative recon is] Largely a waste of airpower -- especially in TacOps, which is VERY unfriendly to aircraft. In TacOps airpower is best used hitting formations which are already under attack and have been softened up.

"Reconaissance in force" is one of those more nebulous military terms which is very much in the eye of the commander. Usually it means simply sending forward a force large enough to handle whatever you expect it to bump into. On the TacOps level this really doesn't come into play, as you could think of entire scenarios as being recons in force -- battalions advancing on an objective, etc.

Modern recon would like to rely on numerous assets and technology to let a commander see the battlefield ahead of him -- drones, sensors, aircraft, helicopters, EW, satellites. Specially trained units of recon troops or special forces infiltrating on foot, or inserted covertly, scouting out enemy positions. However, on a certain level there still is no avoiding "movement to contact" sticking something out there until it finds, or is found by, the enemy.

============== Ronald G.

I would add one thing to the thread and that is you may want to set the SOP to smoke and reverse course if fired on. This gives your advance unit more of a chance of surviving. Though it is no guarantee.

Keep in mind that normally both forces would have some scouts out front in a situation where recon is really a major factor. In other words, if both forces are mobil then neither knows where the other is and both are scouting. This gives your scouts some chance of meeting an 'equal' unit (another scouting force).

If OPFOR is in a roughly known position, then I think recon must be in force unless you like the suicide mission approach. It is tedious, but I like to move my mobil scout close, but under cover, where the OPFOR is, then dismount and let some grunts walk up (e.g. to the edge of a woods) and peek out. They are pretty hard to see that way, but can see anything that moves. Then you can advance the mobil stuff and see if that draws fire (assuming the grunts couldn't see anything).

Like I said, some of this is pretty tedious, because TacOps is not really a game built to operate at that detail level. But if I were in charge of a scout unit, I know I would want to operate that way.

============== Sherwin

My favorite method of scouting is by having infantry teams walk out in the open (after having been dropped off at the edge of the woods by their APCs). This way, tanks will open up on 'em if the opponent hasn't been careful with his targeting priorities. Heh. Or if your opponent is holding back his fire and using his artillery, quickly mount an assault about two and a half klicks from where the artillery rounds land, taking advantage of the fact that it takes time to shift artillery fire.

Or to spice things up, I'd send an ATGM team or two along with the inf teams. It's sort of like chess--save your best pieces for last and use your pawns wisely.

This scheme (I daresay tactics) takes time, of course, but you can save a few vehicles, and frustrate the hell out of your opponent.

============== John M.

The next question your post brings up is the correct way to deal with enemy recon: let it through and take it out with units (e.g. M1s) deep inside your defense formation ? shoot at it with some of your advanced defenses, as far out as possible ? Send forward dedicated anti-recon units ? The latter sounds the most fun-- what's the ideal mix ? A few Bradleys I suppose... In the light of what you wrote on the essence of offenseive recon (no way around "things that go boom" approach) I don't envy those sent out as forward recon units.

==============

Jim S.

I have found that when setting SOP for recon units, it's best to set SOP for NOT smoke and reverse if fired on. I usually have my guys coming out of forests and if they survive the first attack, by not smoking before reversing, they have a better chance of reversing into the forest, and out of sight. The smoke slows them down. You of course are right about them having a better chance of surviving multi-phase ATGM attacks if you smoke, but I find most attacks on my recon guys are usually not at extreme range.

============== Sherwin

Usually, whenever my recon units are out in the open and far from cover, I just have 'em stop (no smoke), and let the heavy hitters do their thing from behind. At this time, the recon units should have their ranges set to zero to save 'em for another try (by letting them disappear from the battlefield). If your opponent decides to use artillery on [them], you won't be losing much.

When to eliminate enemy recon varies from situation to situation. I usually use ATGMs from afar, but only when there's no other way of stopping them. Using artillery is okay, but then the opponent is quickly alerted of the fact that he's being watched. Most of the time, though, infantry teams deployed way ahead of my main defense suffice to knock the vehicles out of commission.

When I see enemy recon units inching their way forward, I'd sometimes let my artillery set up TRPs about 1.5 to 2 klicks away from the main thrust of the soon-to-be offensive and have everyone hold his fire to give my opponent a false sense of security. Then when he's close enough, I'd unleash everything I've got and scoot to the secondary firing positions.

============== Ronald G.

I am definitely selective about how I take out enemy recon. One of the things I definitely avoid is having one of my own forward units attack their recon. Once that happens, your forward recon is likely to be attacked. Which is not at all what you want. I usually attack the recon unit with something mobil, and something that is in a misleading or unimportant position. And after attacking the recon I have the unit move. You want to keep OPFOR guessing, or better yet fool him or her into going into a killing zone.

============== Jeff M.

Here is my method for scouting on the offensive (assuming I do not start in contact):

I like to concentrate the full force of my attack at one point. Feints are useful, but only in moderation (they make more sense at the operational level). Helicopters and LAVs are ideal scouts, but assuming their lack, I tend to push a mixed armor/armored infantry force in moderate strength about 2 klicks ahead of my main body. These can both locate the enemy's forward forces and usually deal with them unassisted. Once I have spotted the enemy's forward force, I'll leave a large portion (20%) of my force to deal with them, while the rest of my units push through. At the second enemy line, I have good strength to push through and hook either left or right with a further 20% of my force. By this time, the 20% I had dealing with the forward scouts have moved forward, and are able to exploit the gap, while the main body of my force deploys in a line to protect the route of advance of the exploitation force. I can then pull in units at the back end of the corridor as the exploitation force passes them, and have the exploitation force guarding the corridor ahead for these units to pass. Essentially, I am using groups leapfrogging forward under cover of the majority of my units.

In this method of attack, the only role of recon is to find the enemy's eyes and blind him...not to the point of my attack but to keep him from directly targetting my units. This method does not work if you don't have a good numerical or quality superiority.

I like to use this [air strikes as speculative recon] under a few conditions: 1) any enemy unit in the target area poses a threat to my advance 2) the lead elements of my ground forces are already approaching the target area 3) I don't have a need for the air power in a later planned situation

In fact, offensive recon without force is usually a waste of time and units. A good defensive player will let them pass, and get them in a fire pocket behind the front line.

============== Craig V.

My own preference is to use any available attack helos as a scouting force using terrain shielding and appropriate use of "pop-ups" to scout along and adjacent to the main axis of my offensive. By careful use of timing and altitude control you can often identify defensive concentrations.

Of course, even better is to have and use a UAV in this role as it has a better survivability factor in most situations and isn't subject to SAM attacks which the helos are. The downside of the UAV is that it doesn't have a thermal imaging system and thus is blinded by smoke. On the upside, because it can linger more safely at medium altitude it is very useful in registering TRPs and otherwise directing arty.

In general it [ air strikes as speculative recon] isn't that effective and I hate to waste the "shot" that a planned air strike can deliver.

It [reconaissance in force] is indeed viable (certainly in any of the "task force" level scenarios and is what I tend to use in situations where no air power is available to me and I'm on the offensive. Given the nature of most of victory conditions it is foolish (IMHO) to not concentrate your forces to a greater or lesser degree (keeping in mind always the possiblity of MRS and air attacks). When you're trying to break through on OpFor you want to be able to concentrate more force at the point of the attack to sustain the momentum of the attack and break through and then curl up the defense before they can mass to repulse the attack. Part of doing this is using a bit of intelligent pre-scouting of the terrain map to ascertain likely chokepoints that OpFor will use as well as determine routes that are terrain masked from potential defenders. Ideally the final routes should share an initial path and then branch into two or more "end paths" somewhere short of where you anticipate contact with the enemy. This way you can start out by massing your forces loosely together and be able to swing onto the best path your scouting reveals.

After establishing at least two potential avenues of advance send out your helos if you have them, or a small tank force if you don't have any helos, to scout along the paths and start marshalling your forces to follow up towards the branching point. If your scouts run into "significant" forces they should, if ground based, pop smoke and withdraw to a defensible firing position and dig in at least temporarily to see if OpFor is going to come after them in force. If OpFor doesn't (ha!) lay some smoke and head back to main force asap to avoid taking a beating from arty. If OpFor seems to be coming after you, start directing your own arty onto OpFor's line of advance (keeping in mind that it takes a few minutes to get any reasonable accuracy so lead OpFor's advance appropriately).

About this point you have to decide which of the possible routes to commit your forces to. If OpFor is going for a particular scout group on the ground consider the possibilities for flanking their attack or if the odds are too grim, simply dodging left while they go right (or vice versa). Also keep in mind what the mission objectives are and what you need to complete them successfully. This sometimes means that discretion is the better part of valor and using a scouting group to engage the enemy while the main part of the force slips by quietly and exits safely.

==============

Mike N.

Dealing with a human opponent can be a lot of fun as well as a big challenge. Humans tend to react too quickly or too slowly to different stimuli. Knowing this, one can poke an opponent into doing what you want, even if on the passive defensive. Assuming that both sides are using recon elements properly (I usually do, but my opponents mostly don't) my favorite tactics follow along these lines:

Situation 1) Opponent uses few, if any, forward recon elements. I will usually take out the recon elements with direct fire or supress them with artillery. When enemy infantry recon units are spotted, I generally concentrate on eliminating them or smoking them. After taking out the enemy recon, I pull my own recon elements back to a different position.

Situation 2) Opponent uses large numbers of recon units, but not a recon in force. Many players send out hordes of vehicles (usually M3s or BTR/BRDMs) at me on line. Their expectation is to react to my fire directed at them and then proceed to either fall back and go around, or push into and past my firing units. My tactic is to hold my fire and let them come. I'll generally smoke a few of them in order to slow them down and break up the recon line. When the line becomes uneven and gaps appear, I take out specific units by direct fire. This tends to widen the gaps in the recon line.

Situation 3) Opponent uses the "recon in force" tactic. This tactic involves a large number of "throwaway" elements. Their typical mission is to find the enemy recon units and wipe them out. My tactic in dealing with this threat depends on my resources. If I have a MRL battalion off map, I use it on this recon group. I will also target my artillery on clumps of vehicles or infantry. If I have mortars, I'll set up a smoke screen using individual tubes (single SP mortar vehicles) and then I'll just create a mess of smoke in the area after that. What this tends to to is break up the recon group into managable chunks and I'll take them out one at a time.

Other defensive tactics: I prefer to use large numbers of infantry for static OPs. I'll place my units in good locations (but not *too* good so as to avoid the eventual smoke or HE rounds) and crank their range down to 200 meters. I then back up my infantry with a few vehicles so I'll have some thermal coverage. I'll then target my artillery on clumps of vehicles or infantry. Since most recon units aren't tanks, the infantry can generally deal with them when they get too close. Even if the infantry units are wiped out soon after, they would have accomplished their assigned mission (to spot the enemy) and quite possibly have also taken out an enemy recon unit.

A. How this faq was made

The real work was getting the all those pdf Gazette files and converting them into an xml question and answer set.

I wrote up an python program to search and replace [4] what the major had already done,ie, he had already set up a rudimentary structure and luckily I was able to use this

The program takes the text version of the gazette pdf and then chops and adds the xml portions

#!/usr/local/bin/python2.4 import re a = open("TacPy.txt","r") b = a.read() print len(b) c = re.split('<<',b) e = open("test1.txt","w") for x in c: d = "<qandaentry><question><tpara>"\ + x\ + "</para></answer></qandaentry>" e.write(d) e.close() f = open ("test1.txt","r") g = f.read() h = re.split('>>',g) i = open ("test2.txt","w") for x in h: d = "</para></question> \n <answer><para>"\ + x i.write (d)



[1] Did this ever come out?

[1] Can we still get this?

[2] Can we get this now?

[4] Does anyone have to the article(s)?

[4] I realized after a while all I had done was just write a simple search and replace script.:)