The infantry unit is the one unit that is capable of doing virtually everything on the battle field. Infantry can kill enemy infantry and tanks, assault fortifications, hide in ambush, lay smoke and generally make life difficult for the enemy. They are also very vulnerable to kinetic energy in the form of bullets and explosions. Any force without infantry is likely to get ambushed and destroyed fairly quickly. The main strength of infantry is the ability to spot enemy units, as well as remaining hidden when they open up with their relatively meager weaponry. The ability of units to spot and hide is directly related to their experience. Their ability to kill units is based on their skills and that of their commanders leadership. Infantry have two basic missions in the game : killing enemy infantry and slowing attacks by other types of forces until antitank forces can be deployed to deal with them.
The single most important factor for our infantry's effectiveness will be whether they are moving when they fire or are fired at. Infantry is most effective and deadly to enemy infantry at ranges between 100 and 600 yards, when they are positioned (not moving). Their effectiveness is doubled if the target unit is enemy infantry and also moving. Correspondingly, when our infantry is moving, it is much less accurate at hitting the enemy, and much more vulnerable to fire. If our infantry is moving and gets hit by fire at close range from positioned enemy infantry, most of that unit will buy the farm. This leads us to a couple of simple rules. First, always seek cover. Whether you are moving fast or just moving, head for trees, holes, and other cover. Second, when cover isn't available, move slow. Don't order your troops to run around at long distances, they're bound to get ambushed. Move a maximum of 200 yards per ten minutes, when enemy infantry or tanks are within 1000 yards. Slow moving units are still fairly effective at firing back, and they're not quite as likely to get cut up when the enemy opens up.
When moving as an infantryman, there is also a tactic known as bounding overwatch which is used by most modern armies today in one form or another. I will demonstrate this using our grenadier's make-up of 4 units. If you have a four-kompanie battalion, 2 of the 4 units would move, leaving the other two in positioned status. Once the area is secure, the movers become positioned and the old positioned units move up. If enemy infantry is detected, the positioned troops will be more effective at suppressing them than the movers. For an odd numbered battalion, they would use the 1-2 bounding method (moving first one unit, then two, then one again). Even when your moving troops have completed their move and you think it is safe to now move up the positioned unit, think twice about it. If the enemy pops up during their movement and starts firing, you may have no units in positioned status who can return fire with optimal effectiveness. When you come up against a position that is too strong, either bring up reinforcements or support, or lay smoke and back off. If you hang around too long, your troops might get pinned and you won't be able to get them out unless they retreat or route away (in which case they will take heavy casualties).
The other important factor in infantry effectiveness and survivability is their ability to detect enemy infantry which is moving towards them or waiting for them, and their ability to fire. These factors are directly related to their experience and skills. Less experience and skill means the enemy will creep up on you undetected, more means that you will do that to him. You may notice that when you are moving, you will sometimes detect enemy infantry and they will turn and fire on you. Other times, you may see them, and they don't react. Assuming the enemy still has units left for react fire, they probably didn't see you. This all has to do with a comparison of their experience and skill versus your experience and skill, and whether they or you are moving or not. You may need to adjust your tactics slightly depending on what you have determined to be the relativity of these factors. If we are dealing with a situation where our infantry are relatively less experienced and skilled, then we will have to move slower, and even use sacrificial support infantry to detect the enemy. Even on a static defense, the enemy can creep up to your positions and start firing before your greenhorns even know what's happening. Using snipers is an excellent detection method, so are mines and machine gun teams. Just place a few of these units in front of your rookie core units and they will at least have some warning. The last thing you need to do as an infantry unit is pay attention to where your battalion commander is. This is important because the performance of the whole unit can depend on the existence and proximity of the leader. He is the one giving the commands and if he goes down without your knowledge, the entire unit will degrade in its performance.
Mechanized infantry is much more effective than regular foot infantry at just about everything. We will be using half-tracks as vehicles, which will make it easy to get around almost any terrain with ease, and they come with that extra added-bonus machine-gun. I like to have the half-tracks follow the infantry during advances in enemy territory and not fire them at all, instead letting them react to enemy fire and suppress them, enhancing the survivability of my guys. The really big danger of mechanized infantry is the temptation to stay mounted and move around quickly. Half-tracks which get hit by anything bigger than a rifle bullet are liable to become smoking clods of useless junk, taking out the riders in the process. Never, never, never mount your infantry in an area where the enemy is putting up an active resistance and may have any direct-fire gun weapons such as tanks and AT-guns. Even small-caliber artillery can flatten an infantry carrier and scramble the riders inside like an egg yoke. However, if enemy resistance is broken and only a few routing squads are about, mech. inf. excels at mopping up operations. When they move near a unit and dismount to begin firing, they are classed as positioned, so their fire is more effective than ordinary infantry who had to jog up to that position. If you are moving around the battlefield while mounted, be sure to dismount at regular intervals. Sometimes, this alone will reveal the presence of enemy infantry which would not have been otherwise detected. There is a small danger in doing this in that when you dismount the riders, the half-track is vulnerable to assault and destruction. Also, the act of dismounting may cause the enemy to react fire on the newly dismounted infantry, who are classed now as positioned. This is a small price to pay in comparison to losing both vehicle and rider.
The German army had excellently equipped infantry squads armed with plenty of firepower. It usually included a squad automatic weapon. The wanna-bees squads will have only rifles for their grunts. In addition to our experience and skill, our infantry will have a distinct firepower advantage in the way of the MG34. This weapon was effective to 2000 meters, and at closer ranges it has the ability to penetrate. Meaning while some bullets are mowing down the front lines, others are going in deeper to hit troops further back. This weapon alone will be responsible for many more casualties among the enemy targets than your rifles. In such a case, we will want to keep our distance from the lower quality enemy, especially if we are trying to keep our own casualties to a minimum. At the same time, if you are commanding some of the poorly equipped units, you might want to think about waiting to fire until the enemy gets really close, where your guys at least have a fighting chance to hit something with their rifles. There's always a risk, however, against good troops that your unit will get spotted before they can ambush the enemy, so you'll want to open up at the 300-400 yard range.
Dealing with enemy tanks is very difficult for any group of infantry. Even after our infantry gets upgraded with unit antitank weaponry, these weapons don't have much penetration power, though they can still waste the big tanks with a lucky shot. These will be most effective while assaulting from close range. While assaulting a tank several things can happen. First, your assault will go forward and destroy the enemy hulk. Yeah! Second, your assault will go forward and not destroy the enemy tank. Figures!. Third, your assault will not go forward and instead the troops decide to fire their rifles and other small arms in an attempt to mess up the tank's paint job. Good move, boys! Fourth, your assault will not go forward and nothing will happen. What? Fifth, your assault will not go forward and your troops will either become pinned (Hey!), retreat (Hey, wait for me!). What is happening here? The more experience and skill your troops have, the more likely they will be to carry through an assault. The success of the assault will have much to do with both the kinds of weapons the unit has, and the experience and skill of the troops and leadership.
As for the other results, where the troops get pinned or rout, this is probably because there is some basic fear in the assaulting unit. That is, if the enemy tank is a monster, the troops will figure that this is a hopeless attempt and bail. Or, if their side is really hurting or the squad itself has taken casualties and is in a bad spot their morale will weaken. In any event, the result reflects real world considerations in my opinion, and in the real world assaulting tanks takes competence and leadership. Even if your unit's morale fails and you become pinned, you can still attack the area in hopes of getting a kill. You might want to verbally rally your units first, to boost their morale.
Sometimes, too, an assault will expend all of the unit's remaining firepower, while at other times the assault will be astoundingly successful and expend very little, leaving you with the ability to assault other tanks nearby or move around. Again, this will be based on morale, experience and leadership factors. Regardless of the outcome of the assault, in most cases the squad will receive suppression fire, much more if the assault fails. The tank will then return fire on the assaulters.
Our troops will also be assaulting enemy vehicles which are moving towards us without suppressive fire. If you see a group of enemy vehicles moving towards an infantry position which has not been spotted by the enemy, or which will not be spotted by the tank before it pulls up alongside, make sure that, you nail the sucker! If there is a risk of the infantry becoming spotted, lay some smoke in front of them. (Be careful, though, because laying smoke is considered firing and can actually result in your infantry unit becoming spotted. This is especially risky if visibility is high and one lousy smoke grenade does not actually totally block visibility through the front. To check this, at some point during the game, you should attempt to check your LOS through a smoked hex yourself and determine if a newly smoked hex does in fact totally block visibility.
One tactic that your infantry will greatly appreciate if you order them to assault a vehicle is to direct fire against the target tank with other units before going forward with the assault. This will cause suppression on the target tank. The target may fire back at the units causing the suppression, but this will only help your infantry when they go into assault mode because the tank will have expended all of its defensive fire against those other units, leaving your infantry unhindered in the assault, and negating the risk of casualties from the tank's return fire on the assaulting unit. On very rare occasions, the assaulting unit can provide the suppression fire itself. If your unit is unspotted, you will get to fire at least once before being spotted. So, you could fire with the assaulting unit first, move adjacent and then assault. I don't recommend this as a standard tactic, however, since your movement will usually result in the tank seeing you and opening fire. However, if the battle has already been going on for some time and the target tank has fired and been fired on a great deal already, this one last bit of suppression may be all that is needed to completely suppress the crewman and save you from their return fire.
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