Tactical Guide: Off-Board Artillery

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Jackal
Posts: 1416
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:02 pm

Tactical Guide: Off-Board Artillery

Post by Jackal »

Tactical Guide: Off-Board Artillery

Probably one of the most important skills for a budding new Frontline Commander to learn is how to competently use--and defend against--artillery (often called 'Arty'). Artillery can do tremendous amounts of damage if it hits, giving it potential to radically alter the outcome of a battle. And since artillery is used in major high-stakes operations like Conquers and Kingslayers, knowing how how off-board artillery works couldn't be more important!

Artillery is very tricky to use, however. Artillery shells are very inaccurate unless they are fired at a Pre-Targeted Hex ('Pre-Target'). Fired anywhere else, they are likely to scatter and may even land on your own units! But since your opponent could potentially go anywhere on the map, how do you know were to place your Pre-Targets?

Further complicating the picture, artillery shells require several game rounds to travel to the battlefield, so you must plan ahead. But how do you know where your opponent is going to be at a particular moment in time?

The aim of this section is to help you make those predictions. We will discuss the rules for artillery, examine the use of Pre-Targets, and suggest tactics for using them effectively.


Artillery Types and Damage

Artillery is an 'area effect' weapon, meaning it does damage to a large area, not just a single unit. When an artillery shell lands it damages every unit in the 'primary hex' and also causes a lesser amount of damage (sometimes called 'splash damage') to units in all 6 adjacent hexes. Particularly large artillery pieces, like the Long Tom Artillery piece even cause a small amount of damage ('secondary splash damage') to the 12 hexes surrounding those inner 6 hexes. (Note: since each hex is 30 meters across this means these weapons have a massive 150 meter area of effect, 50% larger than a football field!)

As you might expect, artillery damage makes no distinction between friend or foe. Friendly units in the area of effect are damaged just like enemy units, so be careful where you aim!

Artillery pieces are rated both in terms of how much primary and splash damage that they cause. For example, a particular artillery piece might be rated 20/10, meaning it causes 20 points of damage to all units in the primary hex, and 10 points of damage to all units in the surrounding hexes. Artillery that causes secondary splash are rated X/Y/Z.

There are 2 types of artillery pieces available on MMNet: Sniper (20/10) and Long Tom (25/15/5). Which guns you get varies from battle to battle and is dependent on the BV of the two armies.

Damage from artillery is applied in 5-point clusters. So if a mech takes a direct Sniper hit, 20 points of damage are applied in four 5-point clusters, each of which receives its own hit location roll.

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Transit Time

Artillery pieces are generally located several kilometers away from the battlefield. Because of this, artillery shells require several game rounds to travel to the target once fired.

The exact amount of time depends on how large the battlefield is (higher BV games have bigger battlefields) and where on the battlefield you are firing. If the target hex is close to your deployment zone, it will usually take 2 rounds. Targets further from your deployment zone take longer, requiring 3 or sometimes even 4 rounds to arrive on-target.

Once you've fired, an orange 'artillery counter' (orange arrow) will appear showing where the artillery is aimed. If you hover your cursor over the counter you can see how many turns it will take for the arty to arrive. Artillery lands after movement, but before the weapon fire phase. If the counter says 0, it means that the artillery will land after the movement phase of the current turn. If it says 1, it will land after the movement phase of next turn, and so on.

Transit Time Tip: The best way to determine when artillery will land in is to add the number shown on the artillery counter to the current round. For example, if it is Round 1 and the artillery counter says 3, it means the artillery will land land after the movement phase on Round 4 (Round 1 + 3 Rounds).


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Pre-Targeted Hexes

Before the deployment phase you will have the opportunity to pre-target 5 hexes with your artillery. These Pre-Targeted Hexes (or 'Pre-Targets') have a very specific function in the game, and knowing how to place them intelligently is the key to using artillery well!

During the battle, you may fire anywhere on the map whether the hex is pre-targeted or not. If you fire an artillery piece at a Pre-Targeted Hex, it AUTOMATICALLY hits on-target. If you fire anywhere else, the chances are VERY HIGH (THN of 11 for most guns) that the Arty will "scatter," meaning the artillery still hits the ground, but in a random nearby location.

Because it is quite difficult to hit enemy units with scattering Arty (in fact, you may end up hitting your own units!), knowing how to place Pre-Targeted Hexes is very important.

There are two primary ways to use Pre-Targeted Hexes: Area Denial and Arty Traps.

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TACTIC 1: Area Denial

In the introduction to this section we asked a question: If your opponent could potentially go anywhere on the map, how do you know were to place your Pre-Targets?

The answer is simple: While you don't always know where your opponent WILL GO, you can probably think of a lot of places where you DON'T WANT HIM TO GO! Understanding this idea is the principle behind Area Denial.

Think of any strategically important location: Maybe a hill top close to your opponent's deploy zone with partial cover and trees and good lines of fire on the battlefield. Perfect for a sniper right? Say he just happens to have a 3/5 PNT-9R. Don't let him go there! Put at Pre-Target on that hill and deny that advantageous position to your opponent!!!

On the other hand, maybe the map is mostly clear, but there is a small group of trees near your opponent's deploy zone. You opponent has slow, heavy units and he might be able gain an advantage over you by standing in the forest. Put a Pre-Target there and deny that terrain to him!

Looked at this way, artillery can be used as a way to control your opponent, forcing him to fight on less advantageous terrain that he would normally. The goal is not to directly damage the opponent, but to hurt his strategy. And if he happens to be foolish enough to TRY using one of those advantageous positions, you can make him PAY for the mistake...

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TACTIC 2: Arty Traps

We also asked a second question in the beginning of this section: How do you know where your opponent is going to be at a particular moment in time?

The answer to this question is the following: It IS possible to know where your opponent will go at a particular moment in time if you can BAIT him into going there! This idea is the underlying principle of an Arty Trap.

Whereas Area Denial is usually used against units that will attack you from long range, Arty Traps are used in close combat. You place some of your Pre-Targets in and around the area where you intend to fight, and a few rounds into the battle you fire ALL of your artillery at one Pre-Targeted Hex. A few turns later, when the arty is about to land, you move a unit near the pre-designated hex (preferably 2 hexes away so you don't take damage yourself) in a position where your opponent will be very, very temped to kick or backstab you. And when he does come to kick you, WHAM!!! Several artillery shells explode right behind him causing a large amount of splash damage, damaging his rear armor, and with luck causing a gyro, engine, or ammo critical.

As is probably obvious, Arty Traps are much more difficult to use as a tactic than Area Denial, because they require some very good 'arena acting' -- you have to do a good job of disguising where you artillery is going land, move one of your units nearby to act as BAIT, and somehow do a good enough job of disguising your intentions that your quarry doesn't realize it's a trap!

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General DOs and DON'Ts

If you are in a battle with artillery, one of the very most important things to do is to conceal where your Pre-Targets are located! A smart opponent will be carefully watching the artillery phase in an effort to figure out where your 5 Pre-Targets are located. (Note: Most players keep a pad of paper nearby to keep track of the hexes. You should too!). Once your opponent knows where all of your Pre-Targets are located, it is easy for him to avoid them.

Because your opponent will be watching where your arty lands, one thing you SHOULD NOT do is fire at more than one Pre-Target in the same turn. In fact, if you are firing at a Pre-Targeted Hex, fire ALL of your guns at that hex at the same time! That way if your opponent goes there he suffers a LOT of damage, and even if he doesn't go there you have only revealed one hex.

Concealing the location of your Pre-Targets is so important that sometimes it is even a good idea to fire at a Pre-Target that you have already revealed or even fire at a non-pre-targeted hex, just to keep your opponent guessing.

Remember, the less your opponent knows about the locations of your Pre-Targets, the more nervous he is going to be! And if he's nervous, he is more likely to avoid good tactical positions, or avoid good attacks just because he's worried artillery is just about to fall on him!!!

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Scattering Artillery

I repurposed this from an old post by Saint.
Saint wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:08 am
Redid the Arty Scatter diagram and added To Hit percentages and damage percentages for each hex. To Hit numbers are compliments of fahr. Any math errors in calculating (chance of)Damage percentage or typos are my fault.

Some quick observations...In the green, you're safe. You can arty bait by being in the green hexes and have up to a 1 in 20 chance of hitting the other guy. Move yourself into the yellow hexes, and you're looking at up to a 1 in 15 chance to get hit. Anyone in the target hex or the immediate splash zone is looking at 1 in 7 or 1 in 6 chance of being hit. Notice that once you move your self away from the immediate splash zone (the 6 hexes around the target hex), the difference in getting hit between red and yellow zones is marginal, but you'll take less damage in the yellow zones.

Warning: VERY LARGE IMAGE ahead...

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obese pigeon
Posts: 912
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:51 am

Re: Tactical Guide: Off-Board Artillery

Post by obese pigeon »

I've been told by a number of players, some positively, others not so much, that my usage of artillery is very good.

In order to level the playing field where excellence in arty usage is concerned, i'm going to post how I select artillery pre designated hexes.

obese pigeon's artillery designated hex selection secret sauce
Jackal and Saint have already covered most of the generalities surrounding arty in the posts above. Jackal has even gone into some of the specifics, like concentrating your fire on a single hex to do more damage as well as to hide your artillery pre-designated hexes.

I want to go a bit more into a specific method to pick 'good' artillery designated hexes. This method is something i've developed over years of playing with offboard artillery, and far as I can tell, i'm the only player who employs this method.

1) During the artillery desig selection phase, press 'Shift-Z' to see both your own as well as your opponent's deploy zone. Now look for avenues of advance that lead from your opponent's deploy zone to your deploy zone and vice versa. The battle is very likely to take place along one of these avenues of advance.

2) Along these avenues of advance, look for hexes that are turning points, or intersections between avenues of advance. Also look for changes in elevation or terrain that could slow a unit down on said avenue of advance. There is a greater chance for units to end the turn on turning points or terrain changes due to the fact that units need to spend an additional 1 MP to navigate such hexes.

Now you can drop your arty along the avenues of advance ahead of your opponent's movement... or... since you are likely to be using the same avenues of advance, drop it behind your units to cover your back.

Now laugh as your opponent magically staggers from designated arty hex to designated arty hex as crippling volleys for fire from the sky rain down on his units. Watch as he is afraid of going in for the backstab as he is wary (rightfully so) of an arty trap.

Using this method, you can bring your arty game to the next level.

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