Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tactics: How to Attack Cities

So you're playing Wargame: Airland Battle and the enemy has turned a city into a stronghold, and you want them out! You order your infantry to assault the city, but against infantry in heavy cover that didn't go very well. You've tried dropping napalm on them, only to have your fragile, expensive, and low availability bombers shot down. You've tried screening the city with smoke, rushing APCs up to them, and unloading your troops into the heart of battle, only to have them inflict minimal damage before being destroyed. As a final desperate attempt, you've sent in flame tanks, only to have them torn apart by heavy ATGM infantry. After trying all of that you've decided all is lost, they got there first, and now nothing will get them out. So you've decided next game you will buy expensive helicopters to get your troops there first, only to have them get shot down by fighters at the start of the game. There must be an easier way right? Well there is!


- Infantry in heavy cover get a big defensive bonus from damage and suppression.
- Infantry in heavy cover are hard to spot from a distance, even if they are firing.
- Buildings & cities block line of sight, making it easy to hide soft units like air defense, resupply, and command vehicles behind the city.
- Buildings & cities are almost always along roads, making it easy to bring in reinforcements and resupply.


Taking cities is in my opinion easier than holding cities if you follow the correct method. The first thing you need to do is nothing, take your time, don't rush there with expensive fragile helicopters, just relax, contain the city with some tanks, and build up a combined arms force. People will rarely keep tanks in a city, thinking it's enough to hold it with infantry, leaving the infantry holding the city vulnerable. Here is what you are going to need to get the job done.


As with any attack, the first thing you will need is some anti-helicopter and anti-plane units to protect the rest of your attack force. It is very important that you don't forget this key piece of the combined arms puzzle, as air power can quickly put an end to an unprotected attack. Do this right, and you will quickly rack up some extra kills, as the enemy helicopters and planes get swatted out of the sky and crash and burn.


If there are ATGM infantry in heavy cover or an enemy counter attack from the flanks, you will need the smoke and suppression these units provide. The enemy will think they are safe with some heavy ATGM infantry protecting a city, but suppression and smoke will quickly render them ineffective. Remember units panicked by suppression are about 8 times less effective than calm units.


Infantry is crucial for getting close and spotting enemy infantry for the rest of your units. Split them up into single squads, and send them slightly ahead of the rest of your units to engage the infantry holding the city , this will cause them fire back and be spotted by your other units. Whether you walk your infantry to the city, or rush them to the edge in APCs will depend on the situation, but I usually prefer to walk them in, and have the APCs/IFVs provide supporting fire from a distance. Once you have used line infantry to empty a city sector on the edge, you can then send in special forces to occupy it, but this isn't required as line infantry should be able to handle the job when supported by your other units.


Tanks are the MOST important part of this method. They provide the massive amount of firepower to destroy whatever is in the city, and you should have lots of them! You really can't have enough of them while using this method. With your infantry engaging and spotting the infantry holding the city, your tanks are going to do the real damage to them using the high explosives of their main guns. Since the enemy won't have any tanks in the city it will be a one sided battle in your favor, and you will be amazed at how quickly the city will be cleared out. Once the city is cleared the tanks will then rush forward and destroy all the soft units hidden behind the city, and hopefully then breakthrough to the enemies rear. Engineering tanks like the CEV, assault guns, and low cost tank destroyers also work very well in this role as their large high explosive values will quickly destroy infantry even with their cover bonus. The best part of all of this is the city will itself protect your tanks from the enemy by blocking line of sight to them. Make sure you have plenty of supplies available, as tanks attacking infantry in cities will go through their ammo quickly.


Another great tactic that fits perfectly into this method is cutting a city off from resupply before taking it. Some heavy tanks or ATGM units in cover on the flanks of the city overlooking to roads into it can prevent reinforcements or resupply vehicles from reaching the city. Without reinforcements and resupply a city will quickly whither on the vine, and be much easier to take.


1) - Chaparrals and I-Hawks for air defense.
2) - Paladin and MLRS for suppression and smoke (you probably wouldn't want them to actually be this close to the city).
3) - Riflemen in close enough to engage infantry in the city in order to spot them for the tanks.
4) - Abrams and CEVs to blast spotted infantry with their main weapons.
5) - Super Chinook for resupply of air defense and tanks.


Here is an example of a Vasterbotten replay for you to see the method in practice. Watch as PACT attacks the center city with about 35:00 left on the clock. Although the two sides weren't matched as far as experience, it is none the less a good example of a successful city attack and subsequent break through. Vasterbotten Replay

That's all for now. Now get out there and take some cities back!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this fantastic tutorial on one of the most hit-and-miss elements of the game. I can recognise that this is almost exactly the format I was approaching with my own practice, and really appreciate you having defined it so clearly.

    All I would add is to stress the importance of infantry reserves to sustain the attack, as losses among your infantry will detract from the ability of the tanks to see targets.