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"Combined Arms" Explained

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Strategy & Tips' started by scoutsout, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

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    I put this article together from some posts in another thread. While the War Academy has a couple of excellent articles on the use of Artillery, I haven't really seen an article or thread that specifically describes Combined Arms. This is offered to those who might need a little help working with the concept.

    (For those that care, I mostly play Regent and Monarch level vanilla CivIII)

    The term "Combined Arms" often comes up when discussing early to mid industrial era warfare. Let's say you're doing fairly well scientifically; just built "Theory of Evolution" to get Atomic Theory and Electronics; you're building Hoover Dam, researching Corporation. Even at max science, you're at least 24 turns from Tanks. You are militarily or par with or slightly superior to your closest rival, but blitzing with waves of cavalry is not feasible.

    This is a dangerous time for a war.

    I try to avoid wars in this period, but sometimes can't. I'm usually in Democracy, so war-weariness is a problem after just 10-15 turns of war. (Sistine Chapel/Bach's Cathedral and Sufferage can extend this, but not indefinitely.) The greatest risk is getting involved in a "war of attrition". (more on wars of attrition below)

    Keys to warfighting in this period: Technology favors defense; Infantry fortified with artillery in large cities are formidable defenders. Movement generally favors the defender early in the war if he has a rail network built up. Though Infantry and Cavalry are "equal" in the attack, the retreating ability of Cavalry makes them potentially useful. The problem with Cavalry is that they're lousy defenders; if this is the only unit used to attack you can expect heavy combat losses (read "war of attrition").

    "Combined Arms" provides an effective set of tactics to solve these problems, and take the war to the enemy.

    I like to organize stacks of Infantry, Artillery, and Cavalry into "Combined Arms Task Forces", that will generally stick together as a group through the conflict. The tactics are simple: the "CATF" uses Artillery to soften up the target, to give an edge back to the attacking Cavalry. The infantry are used to defend the Artillery and Cav en route to the target, to secure a city once taken, and occasionally to finish off a last weakened defender that you'd rather use Cavalry to attack (but have attacked with all your Cav in that turn).

    A common complaint about artillery tactics is movement. While moving one square per turn in enemy territory is slow, you can offset the downside of sluggish advances.

    1) Take the high road. If a path to the next enemy city keeps you in the mountains, TAKE IT! Your infantry will enjoy a defensive bonus, and your cavalry won't be tempted to outrun your infantry. Your Combined Arms Task Force will arrive at the city full strength, ready to do some serious damage.

    2) Open a second offensive axis of advance on the same front. If you have the resources (units and movement ability) to assemble additional CATFs of Art/Inf/Cav, start a second or third axis of advance. If you have 3 CATFs operating in concert, one can be advancing on a city while a second is attacking a city, and a third is consolidating a city just taken. Just as the AI is ineffective at multi-front wars, he is usually ineffective when confronted with a multi-axis front.

    By maintaining the initiative, and giving the AI no rest, usually the war will reach a turning point that the enemy's army is sufficiently weakened that it makes more sense to send waves of cavalry into the remaining cities to finish the AI off in more of blitzing fashion. At this point the cavalry losses are of less consequence than ending the war - but the key is to END the war this way. (If you get to motorized transportation before war's end, dedicate your production to tanks...)

    On Wars of Attrition:

    Much is said about the need for short wars under Democracy; and these are certainly not blitz tactics. It is important here to distinguish between a long war and a protracted war. If you are shelling a city with artillery, attacking with infantry and taking 3-4 turns to take a single city, you run the risk of a protracted "war of attrition", especially if you are losing infantry in the process. If, OTOH, you are taking cities in 1-2 turns on each axis of advance, and keeping those cities after taking them, you will fight a much more decisive war, that should end sooner.

    Force preservation is the key to avoiding a war of attrition. Each unit that survives to the next turn equals one unit added to your total force next time one of your cities produces a unit. Each unit preserved on a foreign continent means precious transport space will be used to make your overseas expeditionary force stronger. Force preservation is the reason Cavalry are key to Combined Arms. Though reaching obsolescense, they attack as well as infantry and suffer lower combat losses because they can retreat.

    Some notes and finer points:

    My unit mix for a CATF: 2 or 3 parts cav to 1-1.5 parts Inf to 1-2 parts Arty. A transport load is the basic "part" for my recipie. If landing on another shore, I'll take more cav to secure that first coastal foothold. This is scaled up as needed. In the defense I will only use a couple of infantry, the rest are in cities.

    Some prefer to use larger (20-30) stacks of Artillery with just enough Infantry to protect the stack. A variation on the same theme, and just as valid a tactic for pummeling the enemy. There is no single "right" way to employ the Combined Arms concept.

    Here are some uses for the "additional" (NOT "extra") infantry that I include in my CATFs:

    1) Some infantry must be left behind to defend captured cities.
    2) Individual infantry can be used to form picket lines across railroads outside my new cultural borders, to keep the enemy from using these rails to hit me deep where my wounded units are resting.
    3) A small stack of 2 or 3 infantry can be used to protect a stack of captured workers that are busy on infrastructure projects to help in the war effort. A complete rail line to the front conserves movement points...
    4) If I have just taken a city deep in enemy territory (maybe next to the enemy capitol) I can use additional infantry to form a perimeter around the captured city. In the event of a culture flip I only lose the one unit IN the city, he cannot reinforce that city, and my first counterattack is already there.

    By war's end I usually have infantry scattered all over the place...but that's a nice problem to have, as the outlying cities that border my "next enemy" are easily reinforced. <g>

    I know some will say "I don't believe in Artillery and just like to attack with stacks of fast moving units", but I'd like to hear comments on this. I'd also like to read about alternative Combined Arms tactics, either different mixes and their uses, use of combined arms in other periods, etc.
     
  2. The Economist

    The Economist Chieftain

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    Well, here are my comments and opinions.

    The thing that you have to remember when fighting a war with a democracy (also republic and feudalism or any other gov't that has war weariness, but i think those are the only ones) is that war weariness increases EVERY time ANY of your units comes under attack. Even if it wins. Even if it is still at full health and gets promoted. Even if it made a great leader from the fight.

    Therefore, you will run into some big war weariness problems very quickly when fighting a country that just throws countless calvary at your stacks of infantry. You'll probably win most of the fights, but unless you can turn around and quickly nab some cities, your war weariness will start to overwhelm you if they're making many attacks.

    I personally don't think that there should be any war weariness generated if your unit survives at full health, but that's not the way it works. If an enemy conscript warrior that it got on the 3rd turn of the game and for some reason have never upgraded attacks an army of 4 elite Modern Armors, which wins without taking any damage, it generates war weariness. Only a little, but still enough to potentially throw some cities into disorder.

    I think that being attacked on your own soil should never result in increased war weariness. In fact, I think that losing units on your territory should REDUCE war weariness, even allowing it to go into the negative numbers. Think "The Alamo" (although I know it wasn't legally part of the U.S. at the time, but there were still U.S. citizens and celebrity frontiersmen like Davy Crocket who were killed there), think "Pearl Harbor" (the perfect example, it caused an enormous desire for the U.S. to declare war, in fact the Iriquois tribe even declared war! [a purely symbolic gesture, as it did not have its own army. although many brave Native Americans risked and sometimes lost their lives in the war, they were considered U.S. soldiers and not soldiers of a tribe, if they happened to come from one]). When a democracy is under attack, the vast majority of the time, the people will becomee passionate supporters of military action in their defense (or an offense percieved to reduce the threat of another attack).

    But uh okay I went off on a huge tangent. Anyway, oh yeah, my opinions. Right! Well I think that artillery is very useful, but only if you don't have to bring them accross an ocean (unless you have a lot of transports already made, moving a stack of like 50 of them along with your other troops is a nightmare).

    Actually, I experimented with Catapults and was kind of impressed. They are absolutely awful at bombarding cities, so you can't use them like artillery unless you have a truly huge amount of them. But for wounding normal units, they are really quite good. Their attack value is 4, and an ancient spearman only has a defense of 2, so you can really do quite a bit with just a few catapults. Bring along 2 - 3 with you to use against any units that are out in the open. They're also good on defense, its always nice to have one less hitpoint on an enemy attacker.

    Artillery is also extremely important to use in a democracy. They help make sure that you will win most, or hopefully nearly all of your offensive battles, which means that they won't generate war weariness. I'm not sure if a battle you win gives 0 war weariness, or if it gives just 1 point, but either way I am quite sure it causes more war weariness if you lose the fight (whereas with defense you get the same war weariness wether you win or lose).

    Its my personal preference to do most, if not all of my major offensives in the ancient and middle ages, but that's just crazy ol' me.

    Anyway, hope some of that was helpful :)
     
  3. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

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    I generally don't build catapults, but I may play with them more next time I capture a few. <g>
    Consider this military axiom: "Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics." (I've seen this attributed to both Patton and Rommel...)

    In a world of continents I start planning for industrial era D-day scenarios about the time I get Knights. No kidding.

    While only one harbor is needed for trade, harbors make veteran naval units. Not only do I like to have a few of these around, but I like to try to position harbors strategically. I look for the spans of ocean that are the narrowest. These are the most likely avenues of a threat from the sea, so I'll want a naval presence there at some point. Well placed harbors also allow me to upgrade my Galleons to transports as soon as I get the tech.

    My AI opponents often find a lot of transports idling in my "shipping lanes". If I have cities on islands, I position troop carriers (caravels/galleons/transports) in such a manner that I can reinforce that position with one boatload of troops in a single turn. While it's expensive to have these idle boats, I get a cost savings by not over-fortifying a distant town to the point that it needs to withstand 4 turns of assaults before I can reinforce it...

    My goal with naval logistics is simple: I want to be able to put one boatload of troops in a location of my choosing on my next turn. That does not mean "anywhere on the map", but it does mean that I can reinforce any of my positions, or land on any potential enemy's shore in a single turn.

    I generally reshuffle my transports during wartime. A single shipping lane is identified for the war; transports are consolidated in that lane. It is generally the shortest sea route to the AI shore. If the war was initiated by an AI assault on my shores, I may wait a few turns before making my move.

    My goal at this point is to take a coastal city with an initial invasion force of 4-6 transports, and land one transport load of fresh troops every turn for 4-6 turns. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider than you'll have transports returning empty, it takes fewer transports than you might think.

    I don't mean to sound critical, but if you find yourself losing many offensive battles or campaigns, you might want to consider this:
     
  4. The Last Conformist

    The Last Conformist Irresistibly Attractive

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    The Economist: That's not my understanding of how WW works. To my knowledge, WW only accrues for i) losing units, ii) ending a turn with troops in enemy territory, and iii) having your cities razed. ii) is the main problem with Arty/Cav/Inf stacks; you will end most turns with troops in enemy territory, while a MA or Cav blitz can avoid that almost altogether.

    The chief attraction of using huge Arty stacks is that they offer the possibility of pummelling a fully fortified Metropolis to a Town sans Walls and Civil Defense with redlined defenders in one turn. This minimizes both the time you spend on enemy turf and the losses of cavalry.

    I realize I have pretty much never reflected on the military usefulness of Harbours - I unfailingly build them in my coastal cities (corrupt hellholes excluded) for the food bonus!
     
  5. mbrown

    mbrown Chieftain

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    I like artillery, but generally use it for defensive purposes.

    I have a central reserve of artillery and mobile units which can be rushed to any central point via railroads. Use the artillery to soften up the attackers then the mobile units to finish them off. Since artillery normally knocks off a point or two, the mobile units almost always win.

    You can also use a similar "combined arms" tactics against those pesky enemy units bombarding from shore. Note that artillery can be used to bombard naval units within range. Use artillery first them finish them off with fast attack ships like destroyers, ironclads, etc.
     
  6. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

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    Navy and Army Combined Arms - I love that! Though I've used artillery stacks to redline approaching transports (and the units within) I haven't really done coordinated attacks on warships. Neat! (and a nifty way to make SURE Elizabeth doesn't get her golden age!)
     
  7. MajorFallout

    MajorFallout Battalion-Command

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    Talking about dealing with AI Civs naval ships, as well as relining the buggers, you should have a few cruise missiles at hand to sink em.

    That's what is happening in my game at the moment. I'm on a sizeable continent, and all other civs are on their own islands, and 2 of them have ganged up on me (French + Germans), and have started to bomb my land with carriers and land troops & tanks/MA on the bit of land where all my offensive armour is located! Talk about a daft move on the AI's part.

    For combatting invasion from the sea, here some tactics I've devised:
    1) Sink as many enemy ships as possible, especially escorted transports. Either with your ships or with artillery/radar artillery/bombers and cruise missiles.
    2) Use your bombers to knock the ships' health to 2 or 1 hit points so that they head back home without offloading their troops.
    3) When enemy carriers start sending their bombers over your land to cause some havoc around some selected cities, base your fighters (3-4 per city, at least) and set them to air superiority mode. That will virtually wipe out their bombers in 2 turns, for each carrier, rendering them useless for a short while.
    4) Mobilise your land based offensive forces, and place them at expected landing areas. Also stackup a few artillerys to blast the crap out of any landing forces, so that any of your powerful units can mop them up.
    5) Capture or raze any of their cities on your land. They are obviously used as bases for importing more of their troops and aircraft. So destroy/capture them ASAP.

    That's about it for the moment.
     

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