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 Post subject: The games preferences are important.
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:29 am 
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The game settings or preferences are important to how the game will play.

I have saved these sections for the end of this document because it is going to be one of those things that each player will have to deal with and choose his own limits or preferred settings. I think it is fair to say that not everyone will want to play the way I choose to play or even play the way that someone else prefers to play. It's your call. But what I can do is explain some of the things that the team that worked on the North Afrika mod learned when we started to delve into the game settings and what they actually do. We spent two years testing games with different settings and documented the results so that we could make decisions on them. We spent time making up test ranges and compiling data on the weapons and units and how they functioned. In effect we spent time ripping the game apart in order to rebuild it in a manner that gave us the game we wanted to have in the end. The end result of all that work has been given the name Low Carnage settings (LC) and I strongly suggest that if you are capable of playing with command and control on that you try them in a few games to see if they are something you want to use more often. If you are interested in using the LC settings but think you know something we don't, we would like to hear from you. We are more then happy to share what we know about it and are always interested in helping players who have the desire to learn and use what we have worked so hard to discover about the game to make it even better. I do suggest you try them as we designed them before you start tinkering with altering settings you don't agree with for whatever reason. These numbers were selected after extensive testing and for reasons. We didn't just pick numbers.

Visibility

The first one that can truly alter the game is Visibility. In so many games and scenarios the visibility that is used is under 24 hexes and the weather is set at 1 so it is a bright sunny day with great weather.But you can only see 1200 yards or meters (depending on how you set the game to display it) Is it me or is something wrong with that set up? Now for Scenarios I somewhat understand since the focus is on a battle and the area or start lines may have to be set in ways that make higher visibility a problem.It's fudged or set low to allow the scenario to take place within the limited space the designer has to work with. I don't begrudge them the right to do that to make it all work. What happens when we as players set it that low and get so used to it that we do it frequently. Others pick up on that and do it too. Whole threads full of complaints and arguments over smoke have come about because of this. Whole groups of weapons are made less useful over this. Terrain effects are removed from the game by this and last but not least tactics are altered by this and players come to think those tactics will work in higher visibility and then can't adjust to there favorite tactic becoming useless. So rules start getting made up to deal with it. Wouldn't it just be easier to raise the visibility up to a more realistic level and learn to work with it? Wouldn't that make you a better player because your then learning what those weapons, terrain effects and tactics that were effected really do? I think you almost have to admit I am right on this. Low visibility is good when your first learning to play the game and want to get the feel for it but after a point this should be one of the first settings that gets adjusted to a more realistic level.

Lets look closer at the effects that are created with low visibility and then what happens when you begin to use more realistic or higher visibility settings. When you set the game to have a visibility at or below 23 you have done things to the game that make it much easier for weaker players to survive in. Smoke then becomes a force field that not only blocks los but prevents fire from penetrating to hit what ever is behind it. It is the perfect Oh **** I screwed up tool to get you out of trouble. Players begin to use it to screen movement and to screen forces from return fire. Fights over its use start and rules are made in the pre game discussions to limit smoke use. None of this is good for a player who wants to learn or play at a more realistic level of play. It promotes sloppy play and poor tactics.

The next effect you have is that all trees begin to block los and because of that act as concealment. A single 1 hex forest can hide an army of units behind it and unless you get a flanking angle on that tiny forest hex you can not see what is behind it or shoot at it. Its almost as good as smoke. You end up with players moving whole formations from tree to tree hex trying to advance and stay hidden behind a 50 yard hex of trees so dense that sight and firing through it is impossible. Realistic? Not a chance or every army in the world would have battalions of nursery men and tree planters leading the way.

Weapons systems are effected in a big way. The effective range of most WW II rifles is in the 300 to 600 yard range. Sure they can shoot farther and a skilled shooter can hit a man sized target at 1000 yards or more. But I think most professional soldiers will tell you shooting at that range is a really bad idea. So we have Mg's to do that work. They can fire out past the 1000 yard range and still be effective. No one doubts that I think. But we have weapons such as Infantry guns, AT guns, AA guns and most of our vehicle mounted main guns which not only have optics that allow them to see much farther but also shoot accurately much farther then 1200 yards (24 hexes) Yet we have a wall of darkness that comes down and limits them to just 1200 yards. Not only does that make those weapons less able to do the work they were designed to do it means that the tactics they have to employ to remain useful will be altered to allowed them to be useful. The German 88mm flack Gun is the perfect example of a gun that is a total waste to buy if your playing in a game with such limited visibility. It is not the only gun that becomes a waste of points but it is the most shining example of it. Here we have a gun that is rather large and easy to spot at closer ranges. It is more then capable of killing almost every tank in the game at a range over 3000 yards (60 hexes) yet when put into a game with a visibility of less then 1200 yards it becomes less then desirable as a weapon. Its going to die when it exposes itself to the first Mg that can fire on it.

All of this is great for a new player still learning to move his units and struggling with the game mechanics. Is it a good thing otherwise? I don't think it is. I would hope you don't either. The lower settings are more then understandable if you have set the weather to give you rain or snow or other logical reasons for not being able to see so far. It is not a good excuse to blame map size or start lines making it necessary to do this. You can either keep reading and I will tell you how to move start lines on a map or you can always find a larger map to play on. But at the very least try playing with higher visibility.

What happens when the visibility is set higher? The first thing that happens is that smoke no longer acts like a force field. It will take two or more hexes of smoke to block los and fire through it, It will
still act like a force field at that point but it is not going to last as long. It also means that more smoke has to be used to create that effect and that means all that smoke that your units have is now some how starting to make more sense. Smoke is going to act in a way that is more logical. You can fire through it and you can see through it but it at reduced capability. It effects your spotting and hitting chances.

The trees now act in a similar manner it will mean those 1 hex forests do not provide you a shield to hide behind. It is going to take two or more rows of trees to block los and fire. You will have to find
larger forests to hide in and then you will have to stay deep enough inside the forest if you wish to hide in them. If you go up and look at the pictures I used to show how to place your guns you can see that I had the visibility set higher then 23 when I took those pictures. The one shows a gun placed in a hex that it has a tree in front of it. In a game with a low visibility that gun would not be able to see or fire through that hex.

The weapons are now going to be able to be used at full potential, They will be able to fire out to the ranges they have the ability to fire to with out having to take steps to hide or move to avoid return fire that they should not be subject too. They become more effective. This alone will force a change in tactics as your exposed to longer range fires then your used to. Guns will be able to fire on targets that are spotted and not have to worry about being killed or suppressed by the mg fire from vehicles that they would of destroyed long before they got into effective mg range. Remember your smoke is not a shield either so your going to need new tactics.

Spotting

One of the reactions I have seen suggested to an increased visibility is players thinking that lower spotting is going to offset it. This is not true. Spotting is not tied to visibility like that. Units are not necessarily going to be spotted farther away just because visibility was increased. What is going to happen is that units that are spotted can be fired on by units that are farther away. That means that you want your recon to get a good look as far out in front of you as possible. Effective recon will be much more important to you.

Spotting effects the ability of units to see each other as they come into contact range. This range varies with several factors and while visibility is one of them in that it allows you to see farther it is not the main factor involved with becoming spotted or attempting to keep from being spotted. The main factors involved with spotting are unit movement, stance, terrain, size of unit including number of men in the squad and suppression. Things like dust and smoke between the spotter and the target units also come into play. I can not at this time say that experience comes into play I have not seen anything that suggests a units experience effects its spotting ability. It may effect a units ability to hide but not its ability to spot. Again I lack any solid proof to make a claim one way or the other.

Most games between human players have reduced spotting and I think that is a good thing as long as it is kept at reasonable levels. The game when set at the default setting of 100 seems to allow you to spot a bit too well. Games set in the 80 to 90 range seem to offer spotting that is more suitable to playing human players. It allows the scouts and smaller units to hide better and sneak around a bit better. I do caution that going much lower then 80 is going to make for a game where larger units like mgs and guns are going to become very hard to locate and this makes for bad game play as it will cause players to turn to things like the combat log to determine range to a gun they can not find. It means that z fires on suspected hexes is going to happen and it is going to give a defending player a much larger advantage over an attacker then they should have. You want to work a bit to find the enemy but they should not be given the chance to hide so well that you can't find them even if your standing on top of them and blasting away at them hoping the z fire allows you to spot them. Use caution with this setting. Don't take this to the level where your in effect playing in the dark when it comes to seeing units that you should by all rights be able to see.


Spec Op Fire Freq

This is the preference setting and not the op fire that I have told you tends to be accurate and effective. It does not effect that accuracy or effectiveness in any way. What it does do is control the chances that other nearby units will come to the defense of a unit that is taking fire. This is something that we do want to have happen. The rest of your force is not going to sit back and watch as a friendly unit is taking fire and destroyed. They are going to start shooting at the attacker in an effort to support the squad under fire, Yes you did read this paragraph correctly I am telling you that it effects all op fire and not just the special op fire frequency as the name suggests. Keep that in mind.

This single setting can effect a game in a major way and is possibly even more destructive to fair play then any other setting. If you set this number low enough units will sit and watch as units in the same hex are slaughtered, they will wait for there turn to die. It can be set so high that even the slightest movement brings op fire on you from every unit that can see your location. Players are cautioned to use a lot of care when adjusting this setting as it will effect the way the game plays. You want to pick a setting that is fair to both sides and allows for the units to act in the defense of nearby units.

I have seen ranges from 75 to 150 be suggested. I even have an on going dispute with Jeb Davis over this setting since it does play a part in the low carnage settings that we worked so long to create. I have come to the conclusion that 125 is a nice number that allows the defender to have 1 or 2 nearby units open up and op fire in support of a nearby unit under fire. I think going much higher is going to be too much support. He currently lists the number of 150 as the setting for Op fire but will be happy to tell you if asked that it is still under testing and open for change. To this all I can say is OK.

Now with that in mind I like the low carnage settings so I like the 125 number but that does not mean it is a good number if your not going to use the low carnage settings. I have played a lot of games with the number set to less then 100. This does make it easier for the attacker to come forward since he will take less op fire from movement and it does give them the ability to single out a unit and fire on it with out the risk of taking op fire from other nearby units. The 125 number works well with the LC settings but players should not be in a hurry to raise this number because they want more defense ability. The default number of 100 works well and even reasonable lower are acceptable. I would be reluctant to accept a game with it set below 90 if I was the side going to defend and I would not want to see it much higher then maybe 110 as an attacker unless we were going to use the LC settings. I keep coming back to this because of the wide disparity of the numbers I am talking about. The reason for this is that the other settings we adjusted in the LC setting like the infantry toughness which makes the infantry tougher needs to be toned down a bit. Increasing this settings number helps to do that. In part this is due to the fact that most of the op fire that will happen in support will come from nearby units in close contact and that is mostly going to be your infantry and the support weapons near them.

Be aware this setting is going to effect all of your units not just the small units or infantry. It will mean your armor will also be effected. So if there was ever a setting that needs to be discussed before the game is created it is this one. Make your choices carefully in what you will accept and be on guard if a player wants to raise or lower this setting too much. There is going to be a reason they want to change this number. Playing with it in the 90 to 110 range is quite fair and not going to make too much of a difference in the game. You will see only minimal effects from those numbers. But consider also if the effects when spotting is higher and op fire is lower. This is an attackers set up and the poor guy who is defending is going to be at a real disadvantage. The same holds true for a game set with low spotting and high op fire. That would make it a defenders set up and put the attacker at a real disadvantage. So when in doubt of what your getting in the way of settings leave this one at 100 and call it fair.

Hitting

This setting is seldom altered by players when haggling over the games settings and rightly so. It works fine at the default setting of 100. It controls ALL units ability to hit what they shoot at. So it might be something you want to raise if you want to play a game using old World War I tanks or in a game where you have some really sorry units that can't hit each other until they are in hand to hand combat and even then miss too much to make the game fun. Experiment with caution. Leave it alone if your not sure.

Rout / Rally

This is another setting that is seldom haggled over by players and again it works fine at the default setting of 100. This setting effects all units ability to rally and the amount of fire they will take before they become pinned or routed. Raising it means units rally better and are harder to pin. Lowering it makes them less likely to rally and easier to pin or rout. The units experience levels come in to play with these things. So keep that in mind if your going to experiment with this setting. It can be raised if your playing with nations that tend to act in a shoot until fired on then run away and never come back manner. Games with the two China's are a great example of this sort of battle. I would avoid messing with this when using the major nations. You could use it to allow a weaker minor nation to fight on a higher level against a major nation but use it sparingly. Make small adjustments not big ones.

Troop Quality

Using this setting is something I think most players don't want to mess with. It requires you turn off the national characteristics setting for it to be active. Then you will have to set the level of experience you want to use. It is useful if you want to set up a Red vs Blue sort of battle where experience and morale tend to be equal but with the weapons also being different this is still not a perfect Red on Blue game. I suggest you leave this one alone for the most part. If you do alter it be ready to play a few test games with your choices to see if this is what you really want. Most players have become accustomed to working with 1 or 2 nations as favorites they like to play and losing the national characteristics will alter the way units act. However like the Rout / Rally you may want to consider this if your going to be using the minor nations for your battles since you can raise the levels of troop quality to a more playable level. I suggest you stay within the 60 to 80 range for most reasonable results

Infantry Toughness

This setting is one of the main settings we altered when creating the Low Carnage settings so we did a lot of testing on this. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble if your willing to accept that we did our homework before we altered this setting. The way it works turned out to be a bit of a surprise. It does not seem to respond to minor alterations which is why the number is at 150 and not 130 or 125 or some other number. It does not seem to make a difference that is noticeable enough to use those numbers. That is why we are at 150 on this number. I think FlashfryeSP has explained this better then I could ever hope to do so I am going to quote him here.

FlashfyreSP wrote:
...the Infantry Toughness Preference affects the overall casualty results. Setting this higher than the 100% default divides the actual casualty result by this to determine a "final" casualty: for example, if a unit fires and would cause 1 casualty, but the Toughness setting is 200%, the "final" result is .5 (fractions dropped) so no casualty is caused. The unit would have to get a "2 casualty" result for it to have a "final casualty" result of 1. It appears that a setting of 150% gives the best results, with a moderate reduction in casualties overall, but still allowing them to occur.

Now make no mistake this does not make units into super soldiers and you can not rush into Mg fire and get away with it. If you try you will die doing it. It is still possible to do something really stupid and get killed. This setting at the 150 number still allows the game to send telegrams to your mom telling her you died because you were stupid. I think most players will want to leave this one alone and not tinker with it. If you really do want to have fewer casualties I think your best call is to use the LC settings as a package and not just adjust this setting. We started with adjusting this alone and did not like what we saw by only adjusting this setting.

Tank Toughness

Now similar to Infantry Toughness this setting makes your armor harder to kill but it does it by adding to or taking away from your armor so that it is applied before the causality results are calculated. When you adjust this number your either raising or lowering the armor rating of the units by the amount of deviation from the base setting of 100. So a 110 makes your armor 10% tougher and a setting of 90 makes them 10% weaker. The game already does a good job of dealing with the armor combat so it is not something you want to alter on a whim because you can. It was done in the North Afrika mod because we have so much more armor in the field that we wanted to make it possible to move more armor in the open with out taking a lot of damage. We went to the 110 setting in the LC settings to give the armor a bit more chance to survive, but that is also somewhat countered by the hitting being lowered. So the overall effect is to make armor a bit harder to kill. For North Afrika this works. I don't think most players want to have this same effect in other theaters. So it is probably best left alone by most players. If you do alter this setting keep your adjustments small,

Artillery v Soft Targets and Artillery v Hard Targets

These two settings effect the amount of damage the Artillery will do against Hard Targets such as bunkers and Armor and against Soft Targets like men guns and trucks. There has been a lot of coverage in the Depot forums about these settings and the general consensus is that it is too weak at the default setting of 100. This is due to changes that were done in the last update. Now even with that understood the exact number of what they should be set to has never been decided on and is one of those things you should go over when you haggle about the games settings. My own opinion is that it should be raised at least to the 120 level but it is going to depend on your exceptions. I think I made it clear in the artillery sections that I feel artillery should not be counted to kill a lot of units during play. Artillery should be used to create suppression and kills from it are a bonus. I have played games were there was too much artillery and games were too much heavy artillery was available to players. They are not a lot of fun to play. It seems cool if your doing the shooting and you win because of it it but your not using a lot of skill to blow stuff up with artillery and its not a lot of fun to be the one on the receiving end of it. I also do not like to see artillery used as a means of killing off tanks. The number of top hit kills from mortars will go up if you go to far with the Artillery v Hard Targets. Again this tends to turn the game into a artillery duel taking away most of the enjoyment. Too much artillery or to powerful artillery is a game wrecker. You also want to avoid going much lower then 100 and I even feel that the 100 setting is just not enough to make the artillery effective. Units should be pinned and armor should be forced into buttoning up when under a barrage but kills on either should be low. It's understood that Artillery caused more casualties then other weapons during WW II but in game terms no one wants to spend a lot of time to make plans and buy units only to have it all destroyed by artillery that even the AI can use to good effect. Your better then the peanut the AI brings to the fight use some common sense with these settings and try to play games where you enjoy the challenge you have with out blowing everything up by turn 10 with a lot of heavy artillery.

Battle Points

My personal preference for this setting is to set it high. 20000 seems like a good number for the most part, I like doing this because it creates a bit of fog of war when you don't use points to limit the size of the game and set up games based on the number of companies you can buy. With players who can control themselves and who know enough to purchase reasonable support forces you can eliminate the points counter players from knowing exactly how many units you have left. This is up to the players to work out and not everyone is capable of dealing with idea. Keep in mind that even if you are going to use points for the game you can set them higher then the planed number you will buy. This can be important if you want the ability to call reinforcements but you have to watch what you buy since the game will no longer stop you if you spend too much.

The other thing you need to know about the battle points setting is that it controls the available points
that can be called in for reinforcements. If you set the game to 3000 points for each side and buy
3000 points worth of units you will not be able to call for or use more then 600 points for the purchase
of reinforcements in that game. The amount of points available for reinforcements is 20% of the
total you enter into this setting. So for every 1000 points you get 200 for reinforcements.

If you playing a scenario in PBM mode or in another 2 player mode you can not buy any reinforcements at all. They would of been set up by the scenario designer and you can not access
them. So do not plan for them to be available.

Another thing you need to know is the game does not like working with odd numbers. If you want to
use 5458 points for each side set it to 5500 points and limit your purchase to the agreed on points. It is best if you try not to give the game a reason you bite you for making it think. Nothing is worse then losing a game to a crash because the game got a bad attitude about something your asking it to do.

Air Sections

This setting determines the number of aircraft sections that you can purchase. If you leave this to the default settings it is possible none will be available at all depending on nation, time of year, weather and visibility. If you want air to be available it is better to set a number in this area. Then make sure you have a game set up where not only visibility is good but weather is also good for flying. If the visibility is set to low or the weather is not at least decent (no rain, snow or dust storms) then no air will be available. I use 4 for the number since this is 8 aircraft and for most games far more then you would want to have available. This setting controls strike aircraft not cargo or troop transport units.

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 Post subject: Re: The games preferences are important.
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:47 am 
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Setting up a Game with out using points

In a previous post I mentioned that we at times have set up battles with out using points as the means of setting the size of a battle. It is not something that all players are going to be able to do unless they are willing to spend the time to learn what reasonable support units are for the infantry companies and armor companies that form the bases of your combat forces. All to often the players simply lack the knowledge to do this. They just don't know what should be purchased. There is no easy fix for this problem you can't expect someone to learn these things quickly.

In the game folder there is another PDF file that lists the larger formations for most of the major nations that were involved in the war. Many of the minor nations used a similar pattern for there own forces. This file is called SPWAWTOE.PDF If you at all serious about using more historical forces and formations you should look into this file. While not perfect it does give you some indication as to what support units should be included when you purchase units to build a larger formation.

About all that I can suggest is that players who are serious about learning WW II history they should look into the forces that were involved. The best way to go about this is to pick your favored nations (the ones you like to play with) and learn more about them and the units they used in battle. Then once you have reached the point you can do well with those forces switch to a new nation and learn about that nations forces and there equipment. In this way your own knowledge is increased as you play. You made learning this sort of thing easy and fun. What better way to learn something.

There are several web sites and a ton of books that give you a beak down of what a unit was equipped with. They too can be used to help you set up games with out the need to have the points
limit what you can and can not buy. You just need to learn what should be there and should not be
there and keep it reasonable.

While I am on this subject I want to rant a bit about something that I have seen in the past. I find it
to be a sign on the times. Players want to have extra points to make the forces they have special or unique in some way. WHAT? You want, You NEED. Get real. :banghead: My suggestion to this is simple and quite reasonable. Roll a 6 sided dice and if the number is even you lose that number in
hundreds of points, if it is odd you gain that number in hundreds of points. There you now are
special. Go make mommy proud and try not to get killed. If you had any clue as to what that sort
of thing can do to a designers work to balance a game so it is fair you would not even ask about this
sort of thing.

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