It’s too soon to tell if this is a trend or an artefact(*) of players’ exploring the new gameplay dynamics. But I’ve been noting that while some players complain about the rise in epic-length battles since 1.27, others are talking about the frontline.
Tonight, for instance, a lot of towns shifted and shifted back. Tomorrow night, players will log back in and find things not much different than when they started playing yesterday evening. Unless they are starting to get the 1.27 changes. The points of the frontline are roughly similar, but the makeup of the frontline definitely changed. And since supply is no-longer magicly generated by towns… That could make all the difference.
I lucked out tonight, I spawned in at a battle going on at Ciney, aeropaus leading. All too quickly I forgot I had a packet logger and a second copy of the game running, and piled into the fight.
The Axis were in the process of surrounding the Armybase, which in somewhere as small as Ciney is not so difficult. They had several depots but the town was by no means secure. I spawned in to comm chatter that made it sound like I would be under tank treads inside seconds. Carefully I edged out of the barracks. Rifles sounded from every quarter, machine guns rattled away angrily, tank tracks squealed, explosions rocked the building. But nobody seemed to be shooting my way.
I poked my head out of the door just as an aircraft came screaming out of the sky pouring fire into the base, but nowhere near me. I took a tentative step outside into the bright sunlight and … nothing. People running everywhere, tanks, trucks, guns moving around.
Emboldened, I charged out of the barrack and towards the southern wall to get a look outside the base. WHAM. My virtual life flashed before me.
Ok. So I shifted to another virtual body. This time I’d be a bit more careful. I made my way cagily towards the edge of the vehicle spawn to get a good look. WHAM. Those like my previous pair of feet.
A new body. I sprinted like crazy to the far end of the vehicle spawn, and watched as a third and fourth trooper built the start of a little pile where my previous lives had ended. From the corner I was cowering in, I was pretty sure there was only one place you could see that nook from. I got on my belly and crawled into the garage, over the floor and all the way to the southern wall. Hocked a grenade, pulled the pin threw it over the wall into the ruined shell of a building overlooking the base and followed it quickly with a second. I guess he saw the first one, because the second one was followed with a terminal little “waaaaugh”, and the machine gun fire that had been pinning us down stopped.
Master of my domain, I picked up my rifle again and joined a half dozen of my comrades sprinting out of the base. I was already turning around again when the last of the troops infront of me stopped blocking the incoming rounds and I went down.
Now with a slightly better grasp of the lie of the land (very much with the lying on it, permanently) I decided to take a longer moment selecting my gear.
Uh oh. Sub machine guns: 0. Light machine guns: 0. Sniper Rifles: 0. Rifles: 150.
However, this caught my eye: Mortarmen: 20.
I grabbed a tube and some shells, and I sought out a good spot. A bunch of scattered crates in the base would provide reasonable cover. Most of my comrades are so used to direct fire that they miss most of the great mortar opportunities.
Ciney is a compact little town, about 300m north to south and 150-200m east to west, and the map gives you a pretty good idea of ranges. Our men were working on the buildings just south of the armybase, and they were taking rifles against Axis shock troops armed with machine guns. “Bam” “Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta” was the general tone of the conversation. With a yell for extra ammo, I dialed the mortar to about the range of the buildings south of me, and fired off a couple of rounds of smoke, 10m apart. I waited for the long, slow trajectory to impact terra firma. Nothing, but the second landed right ontop of the depot between me and the contested building.
I dialed the range +/- 20m for a series of shots to either side of the building, and then rained down HE shells onto the building, only the occasional round striking the top of the depot. Every 3-4 shells I mixed in some extra smoke to give the area a little “atmosphere”. Apparently they’d been trying to this building for a while, but with the smoke and HE raining down, we quickly took control of the building and secured our other positions.
Which is about when I got shot.
We had the town down to one enemy-held depot now, so I grabbed another rifle, which got run over by a tank, a second who got shot by an enemy as I left the walls of the base, a third who got shot by an enemy tank, a fourth who got exchanged rounds with an enemy, wounding him, but unfortunately getting shot when I forgot to duck and reload.
That southern depot was proving to be a masacare, and I was proving to be too slow witted for real combat. So I took up another mortar, and a nice position on the roof of the garage which gave me some sight of where I was firing.
Several rifleman supplied hauled up a bunch of ammo for me, and I started raining down shells on what I thought was the position of the hostile position. Unfortunately I was still firing on our position and all I did was help the guards of our last conquest hold their ground.
With my ranging corrected, I opened a volley of smoke on the correct co-ords. There were a couple of bits of ruined building keeping me from seeing if I had overshot or missed or landed on a roof top. I stood up.
Just before I painted the dirt, I’d gotten confirmation that I had the range correct, so the next mortarman took up a safer position again, at the side of the garage, adjusted slightly for the relative arc, and began raining down a mix of HE and smoke on the capture facility. Sure enough, within a couple of dozen rounds (thanks to all the riflemen) we were inside and trying to secure it. Aeropaus called 50%.
And that’s when I realized that all the shaking wasn’t healthy. I actually saw the incoming mortar just before it blew me to bits.
With the incoming hail of shells, I decided to give mortars a miss, and tried my hand at sapping the enemy tanks trying to get close enough to the base to lock it down. No joy. Every time I got a break, so did an enemy infantry.
Apparently, though, they weren’t co-ordinating or even supporting their mortar efforts, and there were the obvious long gaps between mortar rounds that tells you the guy has had to go back and pick up fresh shells for himself. I used the opportunity to find a newer, much safer position, taking full advantage of the trajectory of the shells, and began raining down another lethal mix of HE and Smoke, passing riflemen dragging stockpiles of ammo to me.
Once again, aeropaus called out that he had made the facility and needed cover, to keep up the smoke. I switched to a heavier mix of smoke, mixing in HE just for good measure, I must have fired a good 60 rounds from that tube at that point.
This is where I discovered that my position was safe from everything but an enemy tank charging into the armybase.
After a few more frenetic runs with rifle, smg and machine gun, I took up my mortar position. I waited for the signal to start shelling, riflemen stocked me up to capacity, I got the signal, I dialed in the range, selected a HE round for a couple of first shots since smoke would warn them of danger and …
Windows automatic update popped up a dialog to which I apparently answered ‘OMG, Nothing would please me more just now than to have my computer reboot and spend 15 minutes installing update 1 of 2’.
When my computer was my own again, I decided the risk was too great if I logged in and we were still fighting in Ciney, so its fate will be a mystery for me until the morning :)
(*) That’s not a typo, that’s my Britishness showing through.