“TacOps” Hints and Tips – Part 2

by on Feb.24, 2010, under PC Game Hints & Tips, PC Retro Gaming

Part 2 of our TacOps strategy and tactics article. This time around we analyse the various weapon systems within the game. 

In the last TacOps installment, we examined US defensive operations and had a quick look at the results of a scenario using those article’s guidelines. As a silicon battalion commander, I suspect I would have been chewed out by my brigade for losing half my command in under two hours, despite the annihilation of an OPFOR Motorized Regiment. This begs the question, “Could I have done better?” Unfortunately, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” There were several incidents during the battle which cost me key systems which, if utilized more efficiently, would still be present o­n my TO&E roster today. In an effort to regain my former high standing with the CO, I decided to analyze the TacOps unit database to improve my understanding of unit characteristics and (if Maj. Gen. Pierce allows me to take the field) my performance in future battles.

Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs)
AFVs make up a large percentage of the US and OPFOR OBs in most scenarios; they are thus responsible for most of the offensive and defensive tasks o­n the battlefield. o­ne of the most striking changes in AFVs since their first appearance in the Great War is the lethality of their main armament. The commander who sends his tank companies forward blindly will soon discover that most enemy tanks and ATGM-equipped tracks (using improved warheads) can hit and destroy any of his attacking vehicles which are visible! What can be seen, can be killed. In fact, after checking the weapon database, most players will realize that the ATGM-equipped Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) pose more of a threat than the tanks. Compare a TOW’s effectiveness at 3000m with that of a 120mm Gun; the TOW has the probability of a hit (pH) of 90ompared to the 120mm’s lackluster 15In most scenarios I’ve played, it’s the M2s and M3s that really make the difference gutting OPFOR formations at 21/2 klicks or more, while the M1A2s loiter nearby waiting to pick off the stragglers. Always target enemy BMP and BRDM (missile armed) tracks rather than OPFOR T80s; their Spandrel and Stabber missiles have a very nasty bite, and are nearly as accurate as your TOW ammo. If you engage at a long enough range, the T80s will most likely miss your tracks, in any case.

On the defense, analyze the terrain you’re operating in, to best utilize your blend of mid and long range weaponry. Place your M1s in areas where visibility is limited to 2 klicks or less, and your M2s and M3s in positions with more expansive fields of view; this provides both systems with a good pH within visual range, while capitalizing o­n the long range of the TOW. In ambush situations, try to position the kill-zone so that all firing units have good pHs. o­nly fire if you’re pH is 70 or better; if you’re in covered terrain, they won’t spot you until you open fire, and when you do, you’ll want to make sure most of them don’t survive the first volley! Infiltrating solitary M3s behind enemy spearheads is another way to cause discomfort to your adversary. An M3 popping out of cover every now and again to take out follow-up forces can yield a good harvest, especially if most of the OPFOR armor is up front, leaving their artillery and support units relatively defenseless.

Offensively, you’re better leading with your M1s than with your relatively thin-skinned troop carriers. Although most OPFOR systems can kill both types of system with relative ease, M1s have a much better chance of surviving man-portable LAAWs such as the RPG16, RPG22 and SPG9. You’ll usually bump into resolute defenders holed up in woods with a plentiful supply of these weapons; keeping your M2s/3s further back reduces their vulnerability to these short range weapons, while still allowing them to suppress enemy fire with their 25mm cannon and TOW missile systems.

Of all the systems in TacOps, helicopters are probably the most versatile; their combination of maneuverability and firepower make them a potent offensive and defensive weapon. Their large movement allowance makes helicopters excellent scouts. Fly a few single OH58s well forward of your front to spot OPFOR concentrations; despite the relatively few ATGMs available o­n board, you can still spot for MLRS missions (see Artillery later in this article). Flying at medium altitude, you’ll increase your field of view considerably. Don’t worry about ground fire yet, as you should spot the enemy at extreme SAM range.

Your Apaches and Cobras should engage enemy units at the longest possible range to avoid SAM fire; if you need to hover at medium altitude to spot them over some woods, by all means do so. Note that medium altitude is always LOS level 3, not o­ne LOS level above ground level; it makes no difference if you’re at medium altitude over a hill or a depression. Target BMPs and BTRs first, as these systems pose the highest threat to your safety from their SAM-toting passengers; the ground-pounders will be happy with your choice of target as well! o­nce you’ve stripped the SAM teams away from the formation, you can close the range to kick your pH up to 90. Use of terrain masking can also be used to maneuver into new firing positions; drop down from medium altitude to NOE and use woods, towns and hills to shield you from enemy fire.

Finally, transport helicopters are also highly useful in a delaying role. Load up a couple of squads equipped with ATGMs and/or LAAWs and drop them off in woods/built up areas along an OPFOR axis of advance. Depending o­n your mood, you can either leave the helos nearby to extract the grunts when things get hot, or callously leave them to their own devices; there are no morale rules in TacOps, and these guys will fight to the death if ordered to do so!

Spread out any SAM systems you have by breaking up your SAM units into individual tubes and setting them up with wide fields of view; this gives you greater defensive coverage over your units. o­ne of the greatest advantages infantry have is their low profile; in woods or built-up areas they can o­nly be spotted from 100m or so. By positioning infantry in these terrain types you can surprise a complacent OPFOR commander, by firing off your ATGMs at 1-2 klicks or your LAAW systems, if they’re about 200m away. I’ve had a couple of infantry squads wipe out two platoons of BMPs in woods terrain with LAAW fire while o­nly losing several men; use the terrain to your advantage. Finally, don’t bunch up your grunts; most likely the last thing they’ll hear are the incoming 152mm HE rounds.

In the past, artillery has been of little use against armored formations; however, this has changed with the advent of new artillery rounds and systems. Improved Conventional Munitions (ICM), Copperhead guided rounds (not present in TacOps), and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) all have the capability to destroy both OPFOR and US armor (I can vouch for the latter, as I o­nce dropped an ICM mission o­n a platoon of M113s … nasty business indeed). The main trouble with artillery is accuracy; it takes several minutes of adjusting fire before you can guarantee that an arty mission will hit its intended victim.

Use your initial Target Reference Points (TRPs) to pre-register likely avenues of approach as well as your planned ambush sites. Use your ICM rounds to deal with concentrations of BMPs; a successful strike o­n a motorized company will usually kill 1-2 systems and suppress the rest. HE rounds should be used to kill/suppress dismounted infantry. I also like to drop HE missions o­n ambush sites to deal with infantry which are forced to perform an “involuntary dismount,” due to having their track shot out from under them (readers sick and tired of the Atlanta Olympics should attempt to ignore the analogy to a gymnast slipping o­n the balance beam). MLRS rounds are best utilized against heavy concentrations of armor; their 1x1km impact zone can create immense carnage o­n the battlefield. Send a scout unit (or OH-58) forward to spot a motorised battalion in march formation, then drop this sucker o­n their heads; I’ve managed to kill 14 tracks with o­ne impressive salvo, so don’t waste your scant rounds o­n small fry!

Air Strikes
As in real-life, close air support missions are heartily disliked by pilots; the combination of heavy ground-fire from SAM and AAA, avoiding hills and hitting your target with an impressive load of ordinance is a highly challenging task guaranteed to generate a high pucker factor. In TacOps you’ll find that most of your air strikes will either get shot down or aborted; OPFOR has an ungodly amount of man-portable SAM systems assigned to each motorized company. Add the stray ZSU-23-4 o­n a nearby hill and most pilots will pack up and head back to base … and who can blame them?

The best time to utilize air support is either against battalion recon units (where there are no SAMs) or late in the scenario (after the BMPs carrying SAMs have been attrited). If you must attack a major enemy concentration, for pity’s sake suppress as many potential SAM and AAA positions with your arty, ground fire and helicopters as possible before your air-to-dirt missions arrive.

Well that’s all for now. Remember that Arsenal Publishing has released the 1.0.3 patch for TacOps; it adds some new OPFOR and US units as well as tidying up a few minor bugs. It’s available from most o­n-line services as well as the Arsenal web-page.

©1996 Strategy Plus, Inc. (reprinted with permission)

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