A combat command is a command related to firing a unit's weapons, or adopting an offensive posture of some kind. Combat commands are not necessary for units to attack seen enemies; they will do this automatically under the control of the Tactical AI. Combat commands just modify the parameters that the TacAI takes into account.
No more than one combat command can be active at any one time, but it can be combined with commands from other groups (e.g. movement). Also, one combat command may be set for each waypoint that the unit has set. This allows you to set a different target or covered arc for each leg of a move.
Units normally fire only at specific seen enemy units. This is called targeted fire if it must be distinguished. The other possibility is area fire. In area fire, the unit fires at an action spot. This is often the best way to keep an enemy unit suppressed while you maneuver.
This is the standard fire command, instructing a unit to use all of its available weapons to fire at the designated target. The target can be an enemy unit or a piece of terrain (area fire).
Note how it says “available weapons” in the preceding paragraph! Some weapons may have restrictions, such as having to be deployed before you can fire them. Perhaps the most notable restriction is that rocket propelled antitank weapons(e.g. Bazooka, Panzerfaut, Panzerschreck) may not be fired from enclosed spaces (such as buildings or bunkers) due to the lethal backblast.
Note: In general, the player cannot determine exactly which weapons are used. This choice is made by the TacAI based on the circumstances (range to target, ammo situation, suppression and so forth).
If the target is an enemy unit, the firing unit will fire only when the enemy target is visible and hold fire (but maintain the target) when it is not. If the target is an area, the firing unit will maintain a constant stream of outgoing fire at the selected area, automatically shifting its center of aim during the process to each side to maximize coverage and effect. Area targets always “snap” to the underlying action grid in CM:BN
Area fire orders are immediately canceled when any active member of the firing team/squad enters the target area (useful for room clearing).
Note: A special situation is the targeting of an enemy unit near a target reference point. In CM:BN, these double-function not only for artillery support fire, but also as “ambush markers”. Soldiers targeting an enemy unit near a friendly TRP are much better at estimating the range correctly.
How much and what type of fire (small arms, main gun, grenades) is outgoing depends on a number of factors, including the type of firing unit, the distance to the target, target type, and the available ammunition. For smaller targets further away, the firing unit will use aimed fire and single shots or short bursts while it might switch to full auto at targets at close range and when it has enough ammunition available.
Note that you do not have to use this command to make a unit fire. Units will open fire on sighted enemy troops and vehicles automatically if/when they can. In fact, unless you have a specific reason to order a unit to concentrate its fire on a specific enemy, it is often the better choice to let the unit decide its targets freely.
While the target command is being issued, the command line extending from the firing unit to the mouse cursor assumes the function of a line of sight tool. Different shades of, grey, blue and red indicate if a line of sight is free, obscured, or blocked, and where it is blocked (the area out of sight is marked with red). When placing a target command the color denotes how strong the LOS is to the target. If the line to the target is light blue the LOS is clear, part dark blue and part magenta if it’s blocked, and gray if it’s mostly clear but not for every soldier in the squad/team.
Additional Notes can be displayed at times above the target, alerting the player to special conditions, such as Hull Down or Partially Obscured or plain Out of Sight targets.
How well a unit performs in executing a Target command depends on a large number of factors, including distance and equipment, target type and status, as well as the firing unit’s experience. The quality of range estimates made by gunners and the speed of acquiring and re-acquiring targets especially depend on the experience level of the shooter.
Note: Virtually every bullet in CMBN is tracked from muzzle to target. This applies to both small arms as well as heavy calibers. The principle of “what you see is what you get” applies: if only part of a vehicle is visible (e.g. behind a wall or partially concealed by a slope in the terrain) then only that part can be hit by direct fire. The only exception to this is that vehicles are NOT shielded by hiding behind knocked-out armored vehicles; however, infantry does gain cover in this situation. In fact, infantry also receives a blast protection bonus when an armored vehicle (live or knocked out) is between them and a very large explosion.
Restrictions - Target is not available if the unit has no ammo.
Example - enemy snipers are firing from a building. Instead of targeting the enemy unit, the player calls for area fire from a tank, which uses high-explosive ammo from its main gun to blow up the whole side of the building.
This is a variation of the Target command and works very much the same, but at a reduced fire output. Usually it limits the firing unit to use small arms and MG fire, while larger calibers and heavier weapons hold fire. Note: on-map mortar teams that receive a Target Light command will use their mortars, but only at a very slow rate of fire
Target Light is useful when you want to put a few MG rounds into a suspected enemy location but not waste a tank’s main gun round, or if you want to take a few aimed shots at a low threat infantry target not too far away without wasting too much ammo. Target light does not prevent the use of hand and rifle grenades, though, at the appropriate ranges.
Restrictions - same as for Target
Example - for firing at long distances, the game itself already reduces fire output even if you use the Target command, so Target Light is most useful as an ammo preservation tool for targets at medium and close ranges.
The Target Arc command orders the unit to only fire at enemies within a certain target area and/or range. After selecting this command, the player has to click on two points on the game map, and the cone-shaped area between those two points represents the designated target area; or, you can keep the SHIFT key pressed when selecting this command. This will create a 360 degree arc around the selected unit, allowing you to set the distance at which the unit will engage enemies but no specific direction. Any visible enemy units that are located inside this area, or that move into this area, will be fired upon. Any enemy units outside of this target arc will be ignored (until self-preservation takes over and the Tactical AI decides to override player orders; e.g. if an enemy unit suddenly pops up at extremely short range).
When placing a target arc, the distance in meters is displayed. This Command is also useful to keep a unit’s “attention” focused on a specific part of the game map while it moves. If, for example, you want to keep a close eye on a bunch of buildings (where you suspect enemy activity) while driving down a road, you could assign a target arc to several units covering this area. The target arc increases the chances that units will recognize and engage an enemy threat within the target area quickly. After placing an arc, the unit will rotate its main gun turret - if available - to face the center of the designated target arc, to minimize acquisition delays and maximize spotting abilities. Infantry units will shift their facing accordingly.
Restrictions - You cannot mix Target/Target Light and Target Arc commands. The AI will sometimes override Target Arcs in self-defense, when, for example, an enemy unit suddenly appears at close range.
Example - an unidentified enemy vehicle contact is reported near a building. We give a target arc command to one of our Sherman tanks to make sure they engage the enemy vehicle as soon as it pops up from behind cover. Note: Target Arcs placement is “relative”, i.e. in relation to the unit’s position and facing, and not tied to an absolute location on the game map. In other words, if you move a unit with a designated Target Arc, that arc will move and turn together with the unit. In this way, you can order a unit to “cover the three o’clock position”. You cannot use a Target Arc to “stick” to a particular spot on the map. So, if that’s what you want, you have to keep the targeting unit stationary or adjust the arc accordingly during the unit’s movement.
Instructs all selected units to stop focusing on their designated target. A unit without a designated target is then free to engage targets at will, or will follow other player-specified commands.
Restrictions - Clear Target is grayed out if the selected unit has no currently designated target.
Example - after area firing at a building and blowing a hole in the wall, no further enemy contact is reported. We abort the area fire command to allow the unit to focus on other targets at will.
Infantry - issuing a Face command will cause the soldiers of the unit to reevaluate the cover provided by the surrounding terrain in relation to the facing the player has indicated, and, if better cover is available, to move to that cover. For example, the unit might move around a wall, or house corner, to face the new direction while maximizing cover against fire coming from that direction. You can issue a Face Command to a unit in motion as well. If you do so, then the last waypoint will be automatically highlighted so the Face Command will apply to that last waypoint, not the current position. You are also able to manually select a waypoint (any waypoint, not just the last one) and issue a Face order from there however.
Note: the Face command is “absolute” to the point you click on the map, not “relative” to the position of the unit at the time that you click. An example: You issue a Face command to a moving unit by clicking on a house in the distance. When the unit reaches its final waypoint, it will turn to face the house.
Vehicles - The unit will rotate its hull and turret (if applicable) to face the direction the player has designated.
Restrictions - vehicles cannot rotate if immobilized.
Example - an enemy Panzerfaust team is spotted on the flank. We change the facing of our Sherman tank to rotate its stronger front hull towards the threat. Note: facing matters! It matters for both infantry as well as vehicles and greatly increases a unit’s awareness and spotting abilities in the direction it is facing. CM simulates the natural human behavior to “look around” the battlefield (which includes a higher attention towards the front, less to the sides and even less towards the back) for both infantry as well as each individual crew position on a vehicle or tank!
Infantry - not applicable. Uses Pop Smoke instead.
Restrictions - Units need to be capable of firing smoke shells, and ammunition needs to be available.
Example - a major threat appears in front of your tank. The tank commander orders smoke to be fired in front of the enemy to blind it, gaining valuable time for a retreat.