What do we do when we actually start to move out? A lot depends on the composition of your force and the availability of resources. If you have artillery, you should pre-plot some bombardments or smoke screens previous to moving out. Airpower, if you have it, can also be very useful in this prelim phase since it can detect some enemy units (depending on how well they are hidden), and give your attacking forces some idea of what to expect. Moreover, after you've spotted the enemy in this way, you can now call down some artillery (again, if you have it) and cause those unfortunates even more grief. As you start to move forward, remember that probably no enemy infantry will be detected near your deployment area. However, this is not an excuse to go gallivanting around. If the visibility is high, your troops can still come under long range fire from guns and tanks.
The big issue here is how do you plan to win. Obviously, taking the objectives is paramount to the score, but there are a number of ways to do this. If the enemy has weak players, concentrating on killing everything you see will reap the benefits of negative morale effects on the enemy. In such a case, you might actually want to detect large concentrations of easy-to-destroy units and, well, destroy them. Done enough times, this will later cause the undamaged enemy units to rout, in some cases leaving the objectives poorly defended or unoccupied. Against most first-class armies, however, the search-and-destroy method won't work very well. It'll just wear out your attacking forces before they even get to the objectives. One of the first choices you'll make is whether to try to take more than one objective at the same time, or to focus on one objective at a time. Usually, your forces won't be strong enough to advance against more than 2 of the 3 objective areas in any one night. If one objective area is widely separated from two others, that might present an opportunity for you to concentrate your forces and drive off the defenders with ease. Remember the basic battle tactic of trying to have as much or more firepower than the enemy at the given points of attack or defense? Concentrating your forces against one objective at a time will insure that you will.
One reason you might want to go after 2 objectives at once isn't actually to take both of them at the same time, but to pin down the units on the other objectives that could provide long range support to their com padres at the target objective. Once you've decided on a battle plan and method for carrying it out, you need, above all, to examine the terrain features and determine how they will either help you or hurt you. If your forces have superior equipment, you might want to get into view as soon as possible in order to start dukeing it out. If your equipment is more or less the equal of the enemy, you'll want to occupy some advantageous ground and position some units with long range capability to hold the attention of the defenders, while other units continue to move closer. If your forces lack something on the equipment side, you may want to use intervening terrain to hide your troops from the enemy until you can get close enough to do some real damage. If you are short on time or mobility and you need to get to the objective areas quickly, you'll need to concentrate on clearing paths which give you the highest probability of getting to the objective in the shortest period of time with the least amount of casualties.
Whether you are heading in one big group for the nearest objective, or in several tactical teams for a couple, there are a few tactics of moving forward which may aid you. First, you don't always have to have all the units moving at once. You can, and in many cases should, have smaller groups moving at a time. This gives you the least risk of walking into a buzzsaw, and insures that in the event the enemy is detected, you will have plenty of units to pin the enemy down. Another mistake that can be made in all the excitement is that when the enemy is detected, players will use the detecting unit to fire at the newly-discovered unit. If the enemy's positions are relatively untouched, this can be very dicey for the attacking unit. Use units that have the best probability to suppress or kill detected enemies, not just the nearest one or the detecting one. When firing, remember that every time you fire, this is one less unit of fire that you will have available to react with. Try to keep as many units as possible with the ability to react fire. Use your forces as a team, cover each other, and reserve a powerful ability to react to the enemy, when you aren't in control. This is not to say that there aren't times when killing the enemy now with that one handy unit will be necessary, just don't make it your default setting.
On the attack, your units will frequently have superior fire capabilities to whatever enemies are detected. Your units are concentrated, the enemy is dispersed and defending a long line. On occasion, the "swarming" technique can result in an utter rout. Let's say you've got a tactical team together moving across the fields and you encounter an infantry platoon in a woods line. If you use several of your units to pin the enemy down, they may run out of react fire. You'll notice this if you fire at one unit a couple of times and the enemy doesn't react when they clearly could have. Now, direct your fire (with some other of your units) against the enemy positions which you suspect could still react. After you've gone through this drill a couple of times, the enemy will be completely exhausted. Now you can roll up that fresh Engineer section, or recon element, and grind them to dust. Mech. inf., with their extra half-track, also excel in the swarming tactic since their vehicles can usually suppress the enemy, and then they just mount up the squad, take a jaunt over to the enemy positions, dismount and proceed to accept the enemy's surrender. Swarming consists of using your forces efficiently to wear out their react capability, and then just roll in with everything you've got. This has its risks, of course, but it can also greatly speed up the pace of an attack. Swarming also works well against fortifications and heavy tanks, but there is always the danger that what you've accomplished during the all the firing is suppressed only those enemy units you could see. There may be others waiting who are totally unsuppressed and will have a nice reception for your over-exuberant troops. If your tactics are good and evenhanded, you'll have little trouble getting close to the first objective.
Now, you need to be aware of the enemies tendency to counterattack. In many cases, the enemy will send almost everyone to attack the very first objective that you take. All those enemy units that you didn't spot will now be easy to spot heading for the objective you took. The only problem is, now you're outnumbered! Seriously, the counterattack tendency of the enemy is easy to deal with if you're just aware of it to begin with. As I said before, many players utilize this tendency to their advantage and bypass a lot of enemy forces on their way to the objective, just so they will have an easier time killing them during the enemies counterattack. When you reach the first objective, but before you actually occupy the area, start thinking about how you'll need to position your forces to defeat the counterattack. When you do occupy the area, take it all at once and fast, don't just take one small section and then the rest an hour later, the enemy will start moving into the attack when you spot you. If you have a couple of groups rather than just one, you may have one group which has taken an objective while the other is still in reserve or fighting it out somewhere else on the map. Once an objective is taken the group which is still in the rear or fighting it out on the front line will start finding itself with fewer and fewer enemies. Some players, again, use this tactic against the enemy in this way: They assemble one strong group to take the first objective and hold it. Then they have one or more other groups which remain uncommitted. After the objective is taken, the uncommitted or slowly moving groups are in an excellent position to make a mad dash for the other objectives, or slaughter the now moving enemy forces in open ground.
An important tactic of attack is masking off those enemy defenses that can harass your line of march. Frequently, masking is the only way to approach a position with some degree of cohesion, or to preserve a force which is having a tough time fighting forward. Masking is most commonly done with smoke, a combination of smoke and terrain, or just terrain. Masking allows you to deal with only a section of enemy defenses at a time, rather than everyone who can get you in their sights. In addition to the standard methods of artillery smokescreens and smoke grenades thrown by your infantry, don't forget that a lot of tanks come with smoke rounds. If your crew is lucky or good, you may be able to dish up a serving of smoke to the direct front of that pesky AT crew. Masking is useful even if you don't know the enemy's position and do not need to know exactly at that particular moment. Of course, if you can kill the enemy position without a big scene then do that; masking is an alternative mode to killing outright. However, masking may be preferable to killing if the enemy has lots of artillery and lots of spotters. In that case, your masks will be close to your forces so that they will be unspotted, rather than sealing off only portions of the enemy forces from view.
When you are on an assault mission, you will usually have to deal with enemy artillery, sometimes in very heavy doses. In cases where you've already broken the enemy's back and have only a few remaining objectives to take, you might want to hustle it up a little and take some risks that you wouldn't normally. These risks are preferable to a more cautious approach which will take many hours, hours in which your troops will continue to suffer the bombardments. You may lose actually fewer men by taking more risks on the ground and getting the mission over with sooner. Again, however, this is only advisable on a good assessment on the balance between the risks to your forces and the amount of enemy artillery coming down.
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