Self Defense

    Regardless of how much like Patton or Rommel you think you are, there are occasions when a good grounding in defensive tactics will be a lifesaver. Patton has been credited with saying that "the only good defense is a good offense," and he was absolutely correct. It is the interpretation of that statement by the rest of us that causes confusion about the value of defensive tactics. If you think of "offense" as having more than enough firepower to defeat any threat and if that firepower is properly and efficiently applied, you'll have no trouble absorbing and folding defensive tactics into your approaches to tactical problems. Deploying for defense is a little different than that of attack. Since your forces will not be moving around as much, you do not need to group them into teams as much. Instead, you'll want to cover the obvious approaches to your positions with fields of observation and fire that will allow you to detect the enemy, engage the enemy, and ultimately defeat the enemy. Also, don't deploy units in heavy concentration in areas where the enemy will likely plaster with artillery, this will only cause you the aggravation of casualties and having to move out of your wonderful defensive positions if your troops are to be at all effective.
    Detecting enemy attacks can be more difficult than you think. Unless the enemy army is very poor in experience, even moving troops and tanks will not always be seen. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have the widest possible view of the battlefield. Forward Observers and snipers are the best spotters. You'll need to carefully look over the terrain and select positions which give these spotting units excellent fields of vision. A spotter is no good if they get killed before accomplishing their mission, so placing spotting units along direct lines of march is not advised. When playing be aware that the enemy will send its forces along general paths of approach to the target. They will take the easiest route in terms of movement. Rough terrain, in this game, will be a real stopper-upper. Tanks will tend to swing around it. Heavily forested areas sometimes have long lines of cleared areas, which will also be used by the enemy to move rapidly through these bush. Its these areas that you'll want to have covered with spotters. Frequently, the enemy will use smoke to mask their approach. In which case your cleverly placed spotters who are not on the line of march will have a difficult time seeing them. Defeating this tactic is a matter of having several key observation points which can see all of the possible or major lines of approach from several different angles. You'll also want to consider deploying some very low experienced units very forward and very much in the way of the advancing enemy, to insure that even if they are completely cocooned in smoke, these brave lads will still be able to keep tabs on them.
     Usually, the first significant firefights occur with long-range gunnery from tanks, AT-guns and infantry guns. Frequently, he who can make this first exchange of fire decisive will come out ahead when the battle is tallied. You'll want to be the first one to fire, thus choosing the time and place of the initial engagement, rather than letting the enemy decide. The key to gaining a decisive advantage during this initial round is to insure that the enemy is hit from as many sides as possible with as much firepower as possible, and loses as many vehicles and men as possible in the shortest amount of time. To do this, you need to determine an optimal engagement range for you defenses. As an example,you might have your AT and infantry guns set to open up at 1500m, your tanks at 1200m, your MGs at 600m, and your infantry at 200m. Done properly, before everyone is spotted, the enemy will be overwhelmed with firepower the minute they come within the engagement range. You need to caution yourself against setting the ranges too low, however. If the enemy turns out to be highly experienced troops they will spot your forward positions, and start firing on them before your troops have orders to react. If you can get good at setting engagement ranges to match the capabilities of your force and get many kills in just one or two mins., you'll see the effects of your units morale boost tremendously. If a unit loses three of it's five vehicles in one minute, the rest will frequently rout. If those three kills are spread out over the course of five hours, instead of happening all at once, there is less likelihood of morale effects.
    When you are preparing for the initial exchanges of fire, try to keep in mind that the first minute will not always be the decisive minute. The next couple of minutes, after your units have acquired their targets and have good hit probabilities, will be the time that the majority of kills occur. And, you should strive for this to happen. Setting range is important if the enemy has superior long-range engagement capabilities. You may want to lower the engagement range in order to overcome some deficiency of this character. If your units don't stand a ghost of a chance at 2500, but at 1200 they have not only a good hit probability but a good penetration value, while at the same time the enemy's long range capability is decent at the 2500 distance, then obviously you should choose to keep your unit's ranges set lower so that the engagement begins at a range where your relative capabilities are more evenly matched. With respect to targeting, keep in mind that your units will frequently target enemy units on their own initiative and fire at them. Before you know it, it may be that several of your own units have already acquired and fired at target, and now have very good hit probabilities against this acquired target. Once commited, let your men fire, otherwise you'll be throwing away a good chance to hit.
    If the enemy is superior to you in a number of categories, or you are outnumbered too heavily, another useful tactic for the defense is "Wearing down the enemy".  Wearing consists of causing the enemy to expend maximum shots each turn, as they continue to advance. The goal is to have them reach your main line in a state of complete exhaustion, so they won't be able to react to your now-overwhelming firepower. Wearing can be effected in a number of ways, but usually putting infantry units supported by a couple of tanks, all way out in front of your main position, holding up the enemy's advance, is the best way to do it. Each few minutes you fire at his lead elements a few times, cause them to react fire and then retreat to the next good firing position down the road. Using little tactical groups like this for wearing, can also be used for "Leading the Enemy" Most players will tend to pursue sighted enemy units. You can use the ambush and retreat tactic to draw them away from critical ground, or right into a kill zone. If you draw the enemy away from objectives, they can usually be caught in the middle of nowhere, pinned down by fire from your leading defenders and successfully creating a "Kill Zone"
    Kill zones are areas where the enemy comes in, but doesn't come out. They can be difficult to create because you've got to concentrate a lot of your critical firepower into a small area, and concentrating is the one thing that is difficult for the defense. If you have a fair idea of the routes the enemy might take, you might chance to roll the dice and set up a kill zone. A typical kill zone has clean fields of fire covered by several high-powered anti-tank guns, are painted with mines, and have entrenched or hidden infantry and machineguns at the edges, and sometimes by tanks on the surrounding elevations. Any enemy entering the kill zone will come under fire from the front and both flanks. You may also have an infantry unit, a tank section, or a recon section capable of moving into the rear of the enemy advancers and cutting off their retreat. "Leading" tactics can be used to draw the enemy in, and mines can also channel the enemy attack into one of these areas.
    One final word about the tactics of defense, which is particularly valuable if you are playing against a human opponent. One or two squad infantry ambushes are really annoying to the attacker, especially if they result in a tank exploding or a fast-moving infantry unit cut to pieces. If you are on the attack and this happens to you a couple of times, you'll start getting real cautious about moving around. There may be some places you just won't want to go because you don't want to have to deal with the stupid little infantry guys lurking about. As the defender, at times you'll gain immensely if you can induce caution into the enemy's ways. Setting up a couple of cheap, expendable infantry units in areas where they can hide and attack is a tactic that will cause any attacker to be much more cautious. This could buy you valuable time. If you do this, I recommend setting up at least two 1 or 2 squad ambushes like this, along likely lines of march. Write these boys off, though, if they radio back to you that 15 Shermans are coming down the road.

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