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Author Topic: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em  (Read 6275 times)

Paul

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Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« on: 02 April 2015, 16:29:15 »
Not sure this is the best home, but let's start.

The intent of this post is to create a guide that'll make it easier for people to use artillery. Artillery can be a fun game element that works differently from any other weapon in BattleTech, but the perceived complexity of it can be offputting. Meanwhile, a different mindset is needed to make good use of it.

A second intent is to improve the document based on feedback. I consider myself a veteran player, but I'm not an expert in artillery. If some advice seems incorrect, inferior or incomplete, please comment, and the base article will be improved.
Similarly, if you've never messed with artillery before, and this post makes you think about starting, we're on the right path. Your input is extremely valuable though: it's possible for the experts to consider something to be self-evident, that isn't obvious at all to a new player. That's hard to catch.


OK, enough preamble.

Short list of bullet points, detail below.

Artillery rules: pp. 179 - 186 of Tactical Operations.

Artillery is good at:
* Area denial
* Wrecking terrain or buildings
* Wrecking battle armor and infantry
* Clearing minefields
* Causing your enemy to over- or underestimate it.


Artillery is poor at:
* Doing damage to mobile, dispersed units
* Providing good support very close to your own units



Artillery is often seen as a firepower enhancement, but a better way to think about artillery is as if it's some kind of terrain or planetary condition you have some control over. It's best used to create an environment your enemy doesn't want to be in, causing them to leave positions, or causing them to not enter positions. Area denial. In that sense, they're best compared to a formation of Battle Armor hopping towards a hill or occupying an area, or to 'Mechs with AC20-sized guns. Your enemy tends to change his maneuvers based on those units, and that capability can be very powerful. It is a huge tactical advantage if you can execute your plan, while you're making your enemy change theirs.
One advantage artillery has to the two examples is that it has much higher 'mobility'. If that brace of Hunchbacks or Elementals is on one side of the battlefield, and you need some area denail on the other end, you're usually stuck. With artillery, it's just a matter of waiting for the new shells to arrive. In fact, artillery's ability to get to spaces you can't otherwise reach or affect is one of its best features.


So, that's the philosophy. The above does require that you deploy artillery wisely, and knowing what should be considered a poor use.

* Artillery needs numbers.
Many players look at artillery as some kind of big AC or LRM barrage. That's not totally inaccurate, but the key aspect to understand about artillery is that it's inaccurate even at the best of times. You need multiple barrels to be effective, outside of certain narrow conditions. It's therefore much better to have 4 Thumpers than it would be to have 1 Longtom, as a crude rule of thumb.

* Artillery needs forethought.
Regular BattleTech play tends to train the player in to assessing his current situation, and making the most out of it. Because of the delayed arrival time, artillery requires an ability to predict where the action will be 2 or more turns from "now". Try to estimate where the enemy will be if they continue their current advance at their current speed. (This is also why artillery is very effective against an enemy trying to hold a fixed position)

* Artillery should be used to modify your opponent's behavior
The fact that you're publicly targeting a location can be a great advantage if you use it well. Use bright D8's or D10s (anything but D6s) to mark target hexes, using the numbers on the dice to indicate how many more turns it will be before the shots land. It's good to make this obvious to your team (friendly fire sucks) but the real key here is the constant reminder your enemy has that those shells are inbound. Whenever those numbers count down, make sure your opponent is totally aware of it. You want him to leave, or never enter, thereby taking the terrain without using a single unit. And you can "hold" it by letting the rain continue until your own units can contest the location.


* Artillery requires solid documentation
One of the big obstacles with artillery is the paperwork. Find attached a document I use to keep track of when artillery is fired, when it arrives, and what ammo's going in. This does require that you keep a close eye on what turn it is, so use the Turn counter to keep track of that, incrementing it every time Initiative is rolled.


Targeting
When targeting, don't worry about the amount of damage you can get in 1 hex. Try think about your target as an area you're putting damage in to. The attached diagram indicates a targeting solution that makes it very probably that there will be damage 'inside' the box, even with a 11 to-hit. The teal stars indicate the target location for your 4 guns. If you have 8 guns, it pays to double up on each.
The 2 blue arrows indicate the 2 hexes (911 and 1012) that cannot be hit directly by a drifting shell in this diagram. This seems undesirable (and if you think so, adjust the targeting to 1110 and 1113 to correct), but this firing pattern creates a larger number of hexes where damage will be applied.
(Plus, it shows you which hexes to target in case you're aiming 6 guns)

And that's the business you're in: not maximizing the damage to a single hex, but maximizing the damage to as many hexes as possible.
Once targeted, it will make the wooded area inside the box extremely undesirable to the enemy. Additionally, it will also likely cause terrain reduction of the woods to Rough, if you play with those rules.
Or, if you're deploying smoke, it will very likely ensure your units will be safe in that area.

The math:
Hitting the target hex on an 11+ happens 3 in 36 times.
Missing it with a MOF of 1 happens 3 in 36 times.
Missing it with a MOF of 2 happens 4 in 36 times.
Missing it with a MOF of 3 happens 5 in 36 times.
Missing it with a MOF of 4 happens 6 in 36 times.
Having it drift in the ideal direction is a 1 in 6 chance.

So. The odds of your 4 attacks putting damage in hex 1011:
Attack on 0809: (4/36)*(1/6) + (5/36)*(1/6) = 0.0185 + 0.0231 = 4.16%
Attack on 0812: (3/36)*(1/6) + (4/36)*(1/6) + (5/36)*(1/6) = 0.0139 + 0.0185 + 0.0231 = 5.55%
Attack on 1111: (3/36) + (3/36)*(3/6) + (4/36)*(1/6) = 0.0833 + 0.0417 + 0.0185 = 14.35%
Attack on 1114: (4/36)*(1/6) + (5/36)*(1/6) = 0.0185 + 0.0231 = 4.16%
Ground total to get damage in 1011 = 28.2%
Seems low? Remember that the odds of doing damage to that hex when aiming for it is 'only' 16.7%, you just improved those odds by almost 70%.

And note the red-marked item: that's the beneficial math that kicks in when you aim next to a target: the drift die starts working in your favor.
Other aspects of this firing pattern:
The odds of creating damage in the hexes in between the 4 targets ('spokes' such as 0910+1010 and 0810+0811) is: 24.06%. Yep, just 4% less.
The actually targeted hexes (due to each have drift overlap with 2 others) are 30.55%

Putting all this together, it means you're creating probabilities for each hex, so the pattern provides the following:
4 Hexes: 28.2% (center of the box)
8 Hexes: 24.06% ('spokes')
4 Hexes: 30.55% (corners of the box)

And you'll be affecting the hexes just outside of this box decently as well, so you're creating a large zone where the odds of taking damage are all effectively better than a 9+ to-hit shot.

Pre-designated hexes
Using these rules (p.180, TO) dramatically increases the effectiveness of artillery, and should be included as much as possible.
There's a couple of strategies in selecting them. The best approach in my view is to focus on the area denial job. Each pre-designated hex created 7 hexes you can do damage to almost at will. Combined with a firing pattern, you can rapidly inflate the area you can reliably damage.
That's a great way to cover areas the enemy might use for their advance, or areas they might use defensively.
Just remember: the whole point of the doomsday device is lost if you keep it a secret. Sometimes, it can be to your advantage to let your opponent know that an incoming attack will not drift. Usually only effective if you want to prevent them from entering or staying in an area. But just as often, you don't mind relies on drift to keep his position safe, only to identify the hex as pre-designated.

Spotters
Spotters are an important part of artillery, as they allow you to increase your accuracy, which results in additional hexes you can hit on command.
To make the best use of this capability, it pays to keep a few infantry units occupied with nothing else. Spotting requires LOS both when the round is fired and when the round lands, something that takes multiple turns in the best of cases. Tying up main combat units with that job is expensive. Most recon units are also good for this; you don't loose much firepower, and unlike LRM Indirect, you don't have to worry about terrain and movement modifiers: you just need legitimate LOS to the target.
(This also means Smoke can be effective *against* spotters in some situations)
When using spotters, it may pay to put 2 units on the same hex. Assuming they're not 2 gunners, but in the 3-5 gunnery range, you don't lose quality, but you substantially reduce the likelihood that your friendly LOS to the target hex gets interrupted by hostile action or an unexpected Movement Phase event. (Sideslipping, etc). Vehicles work well in this capacity since they can share the same hex: makes it easier to ensure the same LOS.

Finally, don't be afraid to task one or two of your guns/launchers and spotters to ranging: specifically trying to get a shot-on-target on a hex you'd like as a pre-designated hex. You reduce your overall firepower, but improve accuracy. Plus, pre-designated hexes can be an on-going denial area, where the enemy will avoid them because they know how easy it is for you to land a shot there.


Damage Resolution
When using artillery, keeping track of damage can be tricky. My advice is to place a 1d10 or 1d12 (as long as it's different from a D6, and different from whatever die you're using as an arrival turn counter) in each hex that has something in it that's taking damage. The number on the die should indicate the number of 5-damage groups that must be resolved.
For example, if a hex containing a 'Mech gets hits by a Long Tom (25), while a Sniper(10 splash) and a Thumper(5 splash) land 1 hex away, the die would indicate an '8'.
Don't forget that the incoming attack comes from the direction of the artillery piece, though the splash damage comes from the hex where the damage landed. Whenever this is relevant, use multiple damage dice, and place them on the side of the target that reflects their origin.
For example, let's say the Long Tom hit on the Left Hand side, while the Sniper landed behind the 'Mech, and the Thumper landed in front, you'd place 3 dice total, a '5' on the left side, a '2' on the rear, and a '1' on the front.
If only a few shots landed close enough to do damage, you may be better off resolving the damage immediately, rather than using this method.


Smoke
Smoke is extremely powerful, especially if you allow the rules to have it act like Heavy Smoke (p.356). This makes it very probable that an area will deny LOS to the enemy, permitting an approach that would normally be extremely costly.
Additionally, it allows you to provide cover for units that are trying to hold a position, though this is a little trickier. Even a little drift may deny shots you were hoping to take; you may be better off using Smoke LRMs or SRMs.


Battle Armor
Battle Armor is very effective at the area denial role. They can stay effective despite losses, and between the ease with which they break LOS and get a 3+ to hit (most suits), they can be a major problem to dislodge, requiring several Mechs or vehicles to work together.
Or just a couple of your artillery tubes. The way Area Effect Damage works is very deadly to infantry, Battle Armor included. (Probably too deadly; but whatever). Use a firing pattern (see Targeting, above) either on a position Battle Armor is holding, or in front of their path of movement if they're heading to a location you don't want them to take. Their slow speed makes them vulnerable to artillery drift staying relevant.


Clearing Mines
Mines can often be ignored, unless they come in the 30-point density, or unless they're Active. Even 20-point fields can be a nuisance.
Artillery allows you to "recon" the area prior to getting there, or clear a known area. Presuming a direct-hit happened, you can consider the hex safe. (Yes, there's a 1 in 6 chance for the hex to still have active mines in it. A second hit reduces this to 1 in 36.)

Counter-battery fire
Surprisingly effective despite the mobility of artillery units, the real purpose here is that as the GM, it's a tool you can use to pull the plug on artillery if it's proving too unbalancing; sometimes its effects are difficult to predict.
You can either have this happen gradually, by removing individual artillery weapons, or all at once. (The latter'd be a fighter squadron bombing and strafing them to bits)
Artillery shouldn't be a suicide pact that kills the fun.


That's about it. As you can see, artillery can add an interesting game mechanic without becoming to overpowering. It gives you an ability that's difficult to duplicate with regular combat units.

Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #1 on: 02 April 2015, 16:36:02 »
Tagged.

Say, can you give me an example of Mech Mortars?  I want to use them on trailers, but don't understand the calculation.
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Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #2 on: 02 April 2015, 16:44:56 »
Tagged.

Say, can you give me an example of Mech Mortars?  I want to use them on trailers, but don't understand the calculation.

Will do, though I'm not entirely sure I understand the question. Are you asking how to arrive at the to-hit, or the probability of its effect if it drifts?

Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #3 on: 02 April 2015, 16:50:16 »
This could be interesting ...

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #4 on: 02 April 2015, 17:23:37 »
Excellent light reading, thanks Paul!

And for the record, Fan Articles is most definitely the place for tactical guides of this sort.

noisenerd

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #5 on: 02 April 2015, 17:39:19 »
Thanks for this. Been trying to talk my players into using artillery, but they seem scared. Maybe reading this will help them get over it. O0

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #6 on: 02 April 2015, 19:34:19 »
Seriously awesome, I'm glad something like this is up now. I'm not the hugest user of artillery, so I can honestly say that I learned a lot by reading it. Thanks a ton for taking the time to write this up!!

One question, though: you said that when using this "box" the 9111 and 1012 hexes are effectively untouchable. But later on, in the math section, you wrote that the 4 hexes that are at the center of the box have a 28.2% chance of getting hit...should that be the 2 hexes (0912, 1011) at the center, or are 9111 and 1012 hittable through drift? If it's the two hexes, then damn...that's pretty good.
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #7 on: 02 April 2015, 19:48:43 »
As a huge artillery fan, this was a great read... even if only for putting to words concepts that already are rattling through dusty brain cells without the ability to properly relay them.   Thanks for writing this!
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #8 on: 02 April 2015, 20:22:51 »
Time to take the on vacation tag out.  You're everywhere around here lately!
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Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #9 on: 02 April 2015, 21:34:51 »
One question, though: you said that when using this "box" the 9111 and 1012 hexes are effectively untouchable. But later on, in the math section, you wrote that the 4 hexes that are at the center of the box have a 28.2% chance of getting hit...should that be the 2 hexes (0912, 1011) at the center, or are 9111 and 1012 hittable through drift? If it's the two hexes, then damn...that's pretty good.

I may have to work on the phrasing some, but those 2 hexes can't receive a direct hit, they'll still take splash damage.
And yes, that means they'll have less *total* damage potential, but the % are purely about getting some damage in them, no matter how small the amount is.
Now, in practice, the bulk of the damage will be inside the box vs outside of it, of course. But sometimes nothing lands inside. Hence why doubling up with 8 guns isn't excessive.
Also note that all that math starts with a 4 gunner on the artillery pieces. Accuracy marches up drastically when you have a 3 gunner doing the shooting... And some units (in the Inner Sphere) can make a logical claim to have 2 gunners firing their guns and launchers.
(With ATOW skills, things can get even more disgusting)

Hmm, realized I didn't talk about accurate fire enough; your grouping becomes tighter... Will work on that, and add a diagram.


Thanks for writing this!

Thank you and everyone else who's given this a thumbs up!
(Now go check my math, I can make dumb mistakes ;) )


Time to take the on vacation tag out.  You're everywhere around here lately!

Looks like that tag's gone. ;)

Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #10 on: 02 April 2015, 21:59:41 »
I may have to work on the phrasing some, but those 2 hexes can't receive a direct hit, they'll still take splash damage.
And yes, that means they'll have less *total* damage potential, but the % are purely about getting some damage in them, no matter how small the amount is.

Ohhh ok! Thanks for explaining it to me, I didn't get that the first time around.
I'm reading through the spotting rules now, and a bit confused as to how they work. If I have a gunnery 4 infantry platoon spotting for some artillery, does it give a -1 to-hit to the aiming artillery's attack? So what's the deal with "For every 2 points of Gunnery Skill less
than 4 possessed by the spotting unit"? Does that bonus turn into -2? Or is that something else entirely?

Sorry for asking so many questions -_-;;
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Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #11 on: 02 April 2015, 23:32:29 »
Ohhh ok! Thanks for explaining it to me, I didn't get that the first time around.

No worries, I'll improve the phrasing.

Quote
I'm reading through the spotting rules now, and a bit confused as to how they work. If I have a gunnery 4 infantry platoon spotting for some artillery, does it give a -1 to-hit to the aiming artillery's attack? So what's the deal with "For every 2 points of Gunnery Skill less than 4 possessed by the spotting unit"? Does that bonus turn into -2? Or is that something else entirely?

Sorry for asking so many questions -_-;;

No problem, this thread is about trying to make Artillery easy, and that includes making the rules less of an obstacle.

First, the gunnery skill one: I'll make a brief table

Spotter Gunnery Skill
Bonus or penalty
0
-2
1
-1
2
-1
3
0
4
0
5
0
6
+1



Hopefully that clears up the skill bonus; does mean our example platoon does not provide an inherent bonus.
But yet, if he had LOS to the target hex both when the shot was fired and when it landed, it means the NEXT shot that gets fired will gain a bonus.
Example:
Thumper (Gunnery 4). 2 turn delay. Spotting platoon (Gunnery 2, so 1 bonus) has continuous LOS to the target hex the entire time. (Another 1 bonus once it kicks in)

Turn Shell Fired
Arrival Turn
Bonus from spotting
Bonus from Adjusting Fire
1
3
-2
0
2
4
-2
0
3
5
-2
0
4
6
-2
-1
5
7
-2
-2
6
8
-2
-3

The reason the adjusting benefit doesn't kick in until the 4th round shot is because of the sequence of events. The first time the platoon sees a shell land is in the Artillery Attack Phase of turn 3. The next Attack being made is in Turn 4.

So, yeah, spotters are a big deal. You gain 'immediate' benefits, and the 'Adjusted' benefits climb rapidly. By turn 8, your to-hit rolls have become 11 - 5 = 7 or better.
NOTE: remember that you can always hit hexes you've successfully hit before. So, in the above example, if you have 4 guns, all with a 4 gunner, have each attack a different hex. There is no clear upper limit to how how many different weapons 1 unit can spot for. Meanwhile, you'll hit the target hex sooner or later, adding him to the list you can hit perfectly without needing a spotter.


Attached is the diagram for a tight grouping, which you'll use either because you designated the 4 hexes with a star as pre-designated, or because you've got your to-hit numbers down to a point where hitting the hex is becoming more probable than drifting. (To-hit 7 or better).

In this situation, you use the splash damage to stack some serious damage on the enemy. Let's presume 4 sniper guns; this means that every hex in the 10-hex area will take 20 damage. The 14 surrounding hexes will take 10.
That's huge, and any time you can cause guaranteed piloting skill rolls in an area, things are great.
You could make the grouping even tighter for more stacked damage, but at that point, you might as well drop all 4 on the same hex.

And it bears repeating: pre-designated hexes can be used by all friendly units, but hexes that have been successfully hit can only be automatically hit again by the unit that achieved the hit.

Paul
« Last Edit: 02 April 2015, 23:37:51 by Paul »

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #12 on: 03 April 2015, 01:46:51 »
Will do, though I'm not entirely sure I understand the question. Are you asking how to arrive at the to-hit, or the probability of its effect if it drifts?

Paul

The to-hit, please.  Its important to my AU.  Some background, first.

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #13 on: 03 April 2015, 02:07:56 »
On letting the enemy know where your designated hexes are?  My view is one of the great advantages of artillery is to convince campers it is time to move.  Rather than turn the game into assault turret tech.

Now to drive this point home, I wouldn't say a hex is predesignated until the rules say I have to.  See in that case the enemy wastes time taking a position I know they can't hold.  Or if they try I can pound them into the ground with impunity and only for the cost of the artillery ammo and tube wear and tear.

This plays into another aspect of artillery, while initially inaccurate, over time concentrating on the same target(s) means your get more accurate with your salvos.  So once you 'dial in' a position, either ahead of time or with fire, your enemy should know that the longer he stays in that spot the thicker the steel rain is going to become.  Surprising him with where you have the predesignated spots means you can see if he's going to set up, and soften him up with a salvo or two before the artillery flushes him out of there.

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #14 on: 03 April 2015, 07:45:59 »
Any view on FASCAM and Inferno Arrow IV? I use them a lot, they are my favourite area denial weapons. Even better if You load those mines with Inferno charges, then You can just barrage freely infront of Your enemy troops puting whole mapsheets on fire.
No vechicle or infantry (except Salamanders and such) can go through :)
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #15 on: 03 April 2015, 08:24:57 »
Any view on FASCAM and Inferno Arrow IV? I use them a lot, they are my favourite area denial weapons. Even better if You load those mines with Inferno charges, then You can just barrage freely infront of Your enemy troops puting whole mapsheets on fire.
No vechicle or infantry (except Salamanders and such) can go through :)
And the smell.... the smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. :D


I think the Arrow IV is an odd one as it can also be used as more direct fire support and guided as well as artillery and is almost too short-ranged for easy use in-universe as artillery; Charlie 6 (a real life artilleryman) equates it more to the mortar section directly supporting a unit rather than the "real" artillery (Long Tom, Sniper and Thumper)
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #16 on: 03 April 2015, 08:44:18 »
Differences when using direct fire?
It would seem to change the effectiveness versus mobile, dispersed units entirely, but I haven't put it in to practice.  Not enough artillery use in general :).
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #17 on: 03 April 2015, 08:48:37 »
Nice precis. Tagged for later perusal.

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #18 on: 03 April 2015, 12:14:36 »
Dammit Paul! Now you're giving away your gaming secrets too?

In all seriousness though, as someone who regularly games with Paul, he has taught me a lot about using Artillery.  It has made me semi-competent when it comes to using it in his games. I think the biggest thing with regards to using it, as it has given me an appreciation on using it in conjunction with terrain as an area denial to dictate an opponent's movement.



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Charlie 6

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #19 on: 03 April 2015, 22:47:03 »

I think the Arrow IV is an odd one as it can also be used as more direct fire support and guided as well as artillery and is almost too short-ranged for easy use in-universe as artillery; Charlie 6 (a real life artilleryman) equates it more to the mortar section directly supporting a unit rather than the "real" artillery (Long Tom, Sniper and Thumper)
Despite Dan’s (DoctorMonkey) confidence in my expertise, I doubt I’ll contribute more than Paul already has specific to game integration.  I had some diagrams that I used on a previous iteration of the boards to describe some of what Paul laid out in his first post but I'm not sure they are relevant any longer.  So instead, let me put my comments in the form with which I’m confident, Real Life, and let some of you smart gamers try to implement it.  Another contextual point, I was a regimental operations officer so my scale is on supporting a division rather than a lance or company.

Paul is correct, mass is key.  I had an instructor tell me nearly 20 years ago that if you want to tick the bad guy off then fire a platoon (3-4 guns) at him but if you want to kill him:  use a battalion (18-24 guns).  Normally battalions are employed in support of regiments and I’d keep it that way for BT.  Organizationally, I’d take the 36 vehicle and make three batteries of six guns, three observer vehicles, and three security vehicles.  Attach the observers to your maneuver units; put the observer in a position to gain line of sight without getting into to enemy contact.

I wouldn’t call artillery an area denial weapon because that denotes persistence (and me as pedantic) but instead allows the player, as the commander, to influence the battlespace.  Artillery can both break and break up enemy formations.  By ‘break’, I don’t mean make him run although that can be a result.  Instead, I focus on costing him combat power as a battalion killing mission (each battery fires three rounds at an aim point for a total of 54 rounds arriving in a minute from the cannons commencing firing) is focused on neutralizing an entire enemy company.  For example, if you opponent attacks with an armor battalion against your battle armor company he might think he has an advantage initially depending on vehicle type.  However, if you can mass a battalion on that lead armor company then you’ve both broken that company and broken up his attack because that lead company is now missing vehicles and his attack can’t go off as planned.

One aspect that I didn’t see Paul touch upon was combined arms and complimentary arms.  The reason infantry can beat armor is engineers and artillery...together.  Let your opponent come wandering down that nice avenue of approach and when he gets in your minefield amidst complicated terrain hammer him with artillery – repeatedly.  If you really want to be mean, do all of that and then roll in some air support.  Engineering efforts makes him deploy, maneuver force direct fire makes him focus, and artillery (or air) kills him while he’s preoccupied.  Oh, hitting moving targets is about timing impacts to his rate of advance or making him stop where you are about to shoot.

By supporting a regiment I don’t mean to imply that each lance ought to expect a battalion of artillery to be shooting in support of it.  If you wish to manage how much your players, or you and your opponent, have access to then you can build a mission context.  For example, a ‘Mech Regiment in the defense positions two battalions forward and one back (aka two up, one back) and each of the forward battalions puts a lance out on a defensive patrol on a constant basis.  Those two lances might have a battery each in support while the third battery is laid on a priority target (likely pre-designated in game terms).  If either of those lances stumble upon anything larger than a similar patrol, then they ought to run while the artillery masses.  The artillery battalion then supports that ‘back’ maneuver battalion in the counterattack.  On the flip side, if I were attacking, I’d use a company to “move out and draw fire” with the intent of getting you to unmask your artillery and kill it with counterbattery fires.  That’s of course, if the defense wasn’t running a counterbattery trap, shooting to get you to shoot so air or a regimental mass mission could end your artillery’s day.  Fun game real life.

Sorry for the ramble.  Paul has really put together some of the best thoughts on in-game employment I’ve read on any version of the boards since I joined in ’02.  Frankly, as collegial discourse that isn't focused on whining about what is broken but instead using the tool to its maximum it impressed me.  I’ve developed some pet rock ‘house rules’ regarding Paul's "paperwork" comment that I’d propose but haven’t played.  If anyone wants to read them, let me know and I can jog my brain to recreate them.  Also, although I describe artillery supporting the defense with the right organization I can plan wonders for the offense.

S/F

Matt

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #20 on: 03 April 2015, 23:58:44 »
For me, the greatest challenge in using artillery effectively lies in the fact that99% of the games I play in are to mobile and fluid to adjust fire - I never have cause to hit the same hex twice, so never have time to correct shots. Similarly, BV constraints limit my ability to bring large batteries - usually two or three guns max. As such, I'm experimenting with using tube arty more like assault guns, things that travel with the main force(or maybe only a few hexes behind it) and provides moment-by-moment fire on trouble spots such as troop concentrations, infatry or BA that shows themselves, and whatnot.
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #21 on: 04 April 2015, 00:47:14 »
My biggest problem is that the artillery always hits me.

Always.

If the artillery isn't aimed at my hex, it will scatter to catch me, without fail.

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #22 on: 04 April 2015, 01:07:03 »
Spotter Gunnery Skill
Bonus or penalty
0
-2

Am I the only one that uses Ferret-Cargo with 0 Gunners as the most cheesy "Spotters" in the game?  >:D


I also find that Direct Fire arty at 17 hexes from a 2-3 gunner is pretty nasty. 
Talk about blowing away fast Hovers or Vtols.
Its mean really.   }:)
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #23 on: 04 April 2015, 03:14:27 »
For me, the greatest challenge in using artillery effectively lies in the fact that99% of the games I play in are to mobile and fluid to adjust fire - I never have cause to hit the same hex twice, so never have time to correct shots. Similarly, BV constraints limit my ability to bring large batteries - usually two or three guns max. As such, I'm experimenting with using tube arty more like assault guns, things that travel with the main force(or maybe only a few hexes behind it) and provides moment-by-moment fire on trouble spots such as troop concentrations, infatry or BA that shows themselves, and whatnot.

My problem with using the big artillery pieces in a direct fire role is that they are huge for that role and the vehicles that carry the regular tube artillery in terms of canon designs are not exactly the best bang for the buck.   It seems more like an emergency trick than to try to actually strategy.    That having tried to actually do it, had more than one occasion of drift and blast radius taking out my own units when the time came.   That and the advent of the artillery cannon, smaller but still deadly in terms of damage and capable of short ranged indirect fire, does the assault gun role more efficiently though they are not perfect.
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Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #24 on: 08 April 2015, 15:33:46 »
The to-hit, please.  Its important to my AU.  Some background, first.

A Lance of vehicles, each with four trailers armed with a MM/8, linked by a C3 system, each firing Airburst munitions.  Gunnery skill of 4, Medium range, TMM of 1 (3 hexes).

Depends on your firing mode:
Direct: Gunnery 4 + 3 Mortar Direct Fire + 1 TMM + 2 Medium Range = 10.
Direct with Airburst:  Gunnery 4 + 3 Mortar Direct Fire + 2 Medium Range = 9.
TMM goes away, as you target a hex, but don't gain the -4 bonus for an immobile target. But hey, you just nullified a TMM completely, that's pretty cool.

Indirect
I'm presuming you have a spotter that didn't make an Attacker Movement Modifier, and doesn't have anything between it and the target. Note that Mortars use LRM Indirect rules, so unlike artillery spotters, those penalties can apply.
Gunnery 4 + 1 Mortar Indirect Fire + 1 TMM + 2 Medium Range = 8.
Airburst: Gunnery 4 + 1 Mortar Indirect Fire + 2 Medium Range = 7.

Now, if a unit in the C3 network was able to get to 7 hexes, those shots become rather easy.
Other points:
- make sure to drop the trailers off someone nice, IE, behind a hill, so the vehicles aren't slowed down. Keep them hitched if you expect them to get shot at.
- Drop smoke if you can for your own protection.
- Look at the SG variant if you want to hurt people.


Any view on FASCAM and Inferno Arrow IV?

Mines require accuracy to be useful in affecting the opponent's movements.
Inferno Arrow IV is useful because of its larger footprint, but still needs a lot before it gets functional.
Still, there's a fair amount of hostiles that don't care about heat, so its utility is case specific.

While I'm on the topic of artillery ammo:
ADA: Useful, but not really artillery; ignoring them for now. Worth keeping a ton around when you have to worry about fighters.

A4 Homing / Copperhead: Very handy way to make people worry about TAG. Two tactical flavors:
- You have only a few TAG: just keep 2 missiles/shells in the air each turn and keep the TAG units as very difficult targets, or as a target that sweeps behind them. Actual utility is minimal, but it can disrupt your opponent unduly.
- You have a lot of TAG: Let them fight in the shade of your Homing missiles. Launch all zig for great justice. Focus your TAG to all hit 1 or 2 targets each turn, tops. Go for easy targets, not necessarily the same priorities as your main line of battle.
Don't forget that you can target hexes to some small effect: mostly only useful against Battle Armor/infantry

Cluster: If your opponent lets you have some, use it to headcap 'Mechs in rapid fashion. This ammo is broken, and it's unlikely you'll get to use it more than once.

Flechette: Great way to cripple fast moving vehicles, but not much good otherwise. Totally insane against conventional infantry, but regular HE works pretty good also, so only take if you know you'll find use for it. Use a fairly tight pattern to ensure progress against fast movers. Remember what happens to hovercraft above water...

Laser-inhibiting: Great way to prepare a position you're trying to hold, especially if your side is fairly ballistic/missile in nature. Not bad defensively against fighters. Remember that's it's per-hex, and doesn't break LOS. Stacks nicely with smoke, but its 1 turn duration does reduce the utility a chunk.

That's about it.


Differences when using direct fire?

If you placed your artillery pieces to reduce intervening terrain, you can really wreck fast units. The flat 1d6 scatter is a pain though. Best to make a tight firing pattern, and hope for the best.
An overlooked feature is that it ignores the terrain of the target hex, so a Mech parking it in heavy woods can be made to pay for his insolence.
The remedy is to rush the side with artillery cannons, so it's unlikely it'll be a persistent feature in your scenario.


Will swoop back and improve the quality of the article in the near future.
Thanks for all the high praise and encouraging words!







Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #25 on: 08 April 2015, 22:55:59 »
...From my understanding, I don't need to detach them before firing.  Since the tow vehicle is an APC, it stops to drop spotters and trailer crews, and can run away.
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Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #26 on: 09 April 2015, 10:18:04 »
...From my understanding, I don't need to detach them before firing.

True, you'll note that's one of the options I described. But since Mortars can fire indirectly (and, provided you have spotters, it's effective that way), my presumption is that you'd normally want to unhitch to gain more use from the towing vehicles.


Quote
Since the tow vehicle is an APC, it stops to drop spotters and trailer crews, and can run away.

The trailer crew is in the trailer for game purposes. RP-wise, I guess it's possible for the APC to be more comfortable.

Paul

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #27 on: 09 April 2015, 22:52:32 »
True, you'll note that's one of the options I described. But since Mortars can fire indirectly (and, provided you have spotters, it's effective that way), my presumption is that you'd normally want to unhitch to gain more use from the towing vehicles.


The trailer crew is in the trailer for game purposes. RP-wise, I guess it's possible for the APC to be more comfortable.

...Oh, right.  Forgot these are the mortar trailers, not the missile artillery ones.  The AU's rules and some tech are a bit different - the mortar trailers could keep their crews safe, but the missile ones are a bit different.
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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #28 on: 10 April 2015, 05:25:40 »
One more question that arised when I was digging through TacOps (+errata).
TacOps p.185 states that when direct firing artillery if You miss, MoF doesn't affect the scatter- it says to use "only 1d6 is rolled to determine distance".
If You look into TacOps errata p.38 you will see new rules for scatter- use only one die to determine direction of scatter, missed round scatter by number of hexes equal to MoF.
So if We add those to rules toegheter it means that direct fire scatters always only by one hex. Am I right?

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Re: Artillery guide: how to kill em without looking at em
« Reply #29 on: 10 April 2015, 05:42:52 »
I thought I asked this a week ago, but apparently it got swallowed:
How is the psychological effect of Artillery warped in a double blind game?
You don't have that "don't go here" effect anymore unless you use mines or always hit the same hex, but the "it could drop anywhere.... #P" effect could work just as well.
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