Author Topic: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios  (Read 679 times)

DamnKerensky

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Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« on: 30 March 2024, 15:02:34 »
Played a Breakthrough (Attacker) scenario a few weeks back and was wondering "WHY?"
Scenario rules state that Defender controls the field after the battle.
And Attacker doesn't get any AtB Bonus Rolls for accomplishing anything.
As a Mercenary, sure, you want more wins, and maybe you can get 2-3xp worth of kills spread across your lance, but it just seemed like the thing to do was to Flee off your spawning map-edge on turn 1 and take the Draw, no?  Risk/Reward seems hopelessly off unless the specific force balance / map tells you its going to be a walk in the park.

Right now, I am looking at the setup for a Breakthrough (Defender)
I, the defender, start in the Center.  Okay, makes sense.
OPFOR, the attacker, start North.  Okay, fine.
Problem 1:  OPFOR's reinforcements, however, start SOUTH!  How exactly is this a "breakthrough" if the enemy already has a load of forces behind us??
Problem 2:  In the scenario description it says I need to prevent at least 50% of the initial attacking force from reaching the "NONE" map-edge.  That can't be right.

Breakthrough scenarios aren't all that uncommon.  I can't possibly be the first person to have encountered these issues, right?

ArcFurnace

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #1 on: 30 March 2024, 16:15:49 »
I believe the design intent of the "breakthrough" scenario is that the Attacker has become isolated from the rest of their forces and needs to "break through" the lines of the Defender to rejoin them. As an Attacker it's literally "Objective: Survive" (with killing enemy units as a secondary bonus, although if you kill everyone on the field you obviously make it through), while the Defender wishes to destroy or cripple as many of the enemy units as possible, and forcing enemy units to retreat anywhere except their destination edge (past the Defenders) counts as having prevented them from breaking through, basically running away (still isolated from their main force) to try again later.

I will note that the version of the scenario described in Total Warfare (page 261-262) does not have the added reinforcements on the home edge for the Attacker and determines margin of victory based on a point system, and doesn't really cover how it would work outside of a single isolated scenario (what happens to the units that retreat without making it to the destination edge?). "In universe", if you head to some spot where you want to try to break through enemy lines to rejoin the main body and realize it's not going to happen, immediately retreating to try somewhere else might actually be the correct option.

The "NONE" edge is an outright bug. What version are you on?

DamnKerensky

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #2 on: 30 March 2024, 17:21:35 »
Thank you for your reply!

Okay, so it's a breakout (of encirclement or just generally being cutoff) - the first issue I had with the Breakthrough (Defender) scenario makes a lot more sense now!  In my head I was imagining something completely different, which is why I was so confused.

Version 49.15
I'll point out that I am playing the scenario right now, and Princess seems to be doing what it's supposed to ... all the enemy units are going balls-to-the-wall for the far map-edge, in preference to trying to decisively engage my units.  Maybe it is just a text error?

That just leaves the rewards question for Breakthrough (Attacker).  I don't see what my motivation is for actually fighting those scenarios.

MoleMan

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #3 on: 01 April 2024, 01:24:22 »
Just fluff

Tempest56

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #4 on: 07 April 2024, 17:27:38 »
Risk/Reward seems hopelessly off unless the specific force balance / map tells you its going to be a walk in the park.

You aren't. I get the general intent, but the balance is entirely out of whack. Extremely high risk - since any unit significantly damaged is a total loss - with zero reward.

And frequently the in-combat balance makes the described situation implausible as well. I'm constantly having a lance of 4/6s facing off against a light/medium company that's impossible to outrun/evade. Instead of a chase/fighting retreat, Breakthrough effectively changes the win condition to 'defeat 100% of the opposing force'.

In practical terms, Breakthrough (Attacker) is Stand Up but with twice the required kills for victory and zero reward. It's a bad scenario.

dgorsman

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #5 on: 08 April 2024, 10:47:22 »
Quote
In practical terms, Breakthrough (Attacker) is Stand Up but with twice the required kills for victory and zero reward. It's a bad scenario.

Sometimes it is - you have to advanced down a narrow map.  Or the terrain funnels you into a limited set of paths which are easily blocked.  But sometimes it is not - you get a map wide enough that you can decoy the princess forces to one side and sneak the rest of the units through.  Sometimes enough force can be applied that you only need to kill/cripple a percentage that allows you to force an opening.  Some of this goes with choosing appropriate Princess settings, which are different for most scenarios (I go for longer engagement ranges and more herding than normal so they hold ground rather than wander about).  And some of it is switching Princess behavior which does not happen automatically i.e. when their position has become untenable, I /kick them and have them pull off their home edge rather than fight on to the death (well, except for DCMS officers during the late Succession Wars but that's a little extra).

I do agree there are a few scenario types which require some tweaking or general rethinking.  For example, Diversion does not account for terrain (e.g. mud) or lighting conditions (e.g. moonless night, no searchlights as they draw too much attention/been shot out) so the 'cross by XX rounds' rarely makes sense; I have to self-adjudicate that one.  Pursuit and Harass need a bit of rejiggering to render them a bit more useable; my current process is to remove deployment delay, use the deployment depth/offset to put the chased side further into the map, and reduce the BV multiplier.  I've also changed the Harass conditions to reduce the need for OpFor kills and added/increased friendly force preservation - forces that can keep up with a fleeing enemy rarely have the firepower to put them down or the armor to take massed fire.

As for the rewards, the victory is good enough.  Simply leaving the field in a Breakthrough scenario is a defeat which will cost strategic victory points (if they're being counted) and combined with other losses will give a bump to OpFor morale which has future consequences.
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elf25s

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #6 on: 10 April 2024, 07:37:48 »
as i see it it is scenario you are NOT to win all the time and that is it
you sure cannot out run death...but sure as hell you can make that bastard work for it!

Tempest56

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Re: Issues with Breakthrough scenarios
« Reply #7 on: 10 April 2024, 22:20:25 »
Sometimes it is - you have to advanced down a narrow map.  Or the terrain funnels you into a limited set of paths which are easily blocked.  But sometimes it is not - you get a map wide enough that you can decoy the princess forces to one side and sneak the rest of the units through.  Sometimes enough force can be applied that you only need to kill/cripple a percentage that allows you to force an opening.  Some of this goes with choosing appropriate Princess settings, which are different for most scenarios (I go for longer engagement ranges and more herding than normal so they hold ground rather than wander about).  And some of it is switching Princess behavior which does not happen automatically i.e. when their position has become untenable, I /kick them and have them pull off their home edge rather than fight on to the death (well, except for DCMS officers during the late Succession Wars but that's a little extra).

From my play experience - which of course could differ from others - it's the last one at least 75% of the time.

For example: my last Breakthrough fight pitted my light line lance (Hunchback, Whitworth, Panther, Enforcer, plus an attached Shadow Hawk) having to cross fifty hexes against eight light tanks, two Stingers, a Wolverine and a Clint, with an additional lance (Hermes, Wasp, Urbanmech, Spider) as reinforcements. No terrain layout or bot setting is going to make that a 'punch through' scenario, and that one's fairly typical of what I run into.

Is it beatable? Absolutely. My complaint isn't that it's too difficult. It's that the idea of the Breakthrough is one where the theoretical objective to evade/push aside the enemy is rarely what plays out, and instead the optimal solution is usually to hang back, let the bot string itself out as the OpFor charges you, and then kill/cripple every unit on the map. Actually attempting to play to the objective is frequently suicidal as 'run past' translates to 'lumber in a straight line for 10 turns while four light mechs get free range 2 backshots on you'. Even using a sacrifice unit as bait frequently loses half the force because of the weight of sheer numbers and relative speeds. There's occasions where the roll of the dice ends up with a quicker unit that can actually run and gun, but in my experience that's not even half the time unless you're playing an overall light force to begin with.

Quote
As for the rewards, the victory is good enough.  Simply leaving the field in a Breakthrough scenario is a defeat which will cost strategic victory points (if they're being counted) and combined with other losses will give a bump to OpFor morale which has future consequences.

I would counter that by saying that no, it isn't, because it rarely actually gives anything towards victory. If you've got adjunct units I find they frequently suicide themselves by trying to play to the objective (usually by running full speed ahead and being swarmed exactly like I mentioned), resulting in a contract score loss that's equal what you get from winning. You get no salvage, you always lose crippled units, you frequently don't gain points towards victory, and the requirements to win are in practice higher than any other mission type.

Breakthrough (Attacker) manages to combine the worst of all factors while frequently not actually playing out the situation it claims to. It's almost as bad as Chase.

 

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