M1A1 - Working with a Platoon
Once you have the basics of how to handle one tank on its own, it is time to learn how to work with a platoon of 4 tanks. The main difference is controlling formations and using travelling tactics to maximize your strength, as well as knowing how to jump to another vehicle in your platoon.
To jump into another tank in your platoon:
- Click the tank icon at the bottom of your screen [verify the steps]
- You can also press Shift-F10 to cycle to the next vehicle in your unit until you get to the one you want
If you jump into a subordinate and then issue manual driving commands, the subordinate will detach from the main group and operate independently.
Dividing your platoon
To split your platoon, as mentioned, you can jump to a subordinate vehicle and start manually controlling it, which will automatically split it from the group and make it a new group consisting of itself.
You can also right-click your platoon on the map and choose Divide. This will split your platoon into two sections. This is an excellent idea as you can then start maneuvering each section to provide mutual support for each other. The cost is that you have more micromanagement duties controlling multiple groups.
To cycle between your divided groups, press Alt-F10 or double click the desired section.
Reforming your platoon
To reform your platoon, go to the map, select the unit you want to merge with, and if you are 100m or closer, you can combine the group by right clicking on the target group and choosing Assign, then selecting the destination group.
Moving your platoon
You can move your platoon a few different ways. The first is to simply move the lead tank manually and the wingmen will follow.
You can also click vehicles in your platoon to order them where to go using the eye view. Unbutton as the commander and click on a tank in your platoon. Then click on a location you want that vehicle to go. The tank will follow your orders and will get into position.
This is useful if you are finding that some of your platoon members are perhaps exposing too much of themselves. You can order that they move into more protective cover.
When you have more than one vehicle in a group, their formations become important.
For the most part, you will want your tanks in line formation so they can project maximum firepower to the front simultaneously. Press the right square bracket to put your group into line.
But travelling in column formation is useful when navigating roads or trails, especially through woods. Press Shift-right square bracket to get your group into column formation. This is easy to remember as it is the shifted version of line formation.
You may want to tighten up the spacing of your formations. Press the minus sign to get your team to close up.
You can also loosen your formations as well. Press the equals key to get your team to kick out.
Ideally, you want to space your tanks so that they are not visible at the same time in an enemy sight. This forces the enemy to look for the other tanks after he is done engaging one of them and buys you time.
There are other formations that you can use that may be more appropriate for specific situations.
Wedge is an okay formation if you are unsure where the enemy is going to present. It can concentrate fire on one of the flanks relatively quickly while the other section gets into position. Press shift left bracket to get into wedge.
If you suspect contact off to a specific flank, use one of the echelon formations. Press left bracket for left echelon or backslash for right echelon. These are the keys that are left and right of your line formation key, which should help you remember which is which.
I rarely use the Vee formation, triggered with shift backslash, but you can use this formation as well.
The biggest issue with platoon formations is when you are working with AI and you are transiting near woods. Your AI will try to stay in formation and, at best, slow down the rest of the formation as they navigate through the woods. Worse, the AI gets stuck in the woods and has to be rescued with some manual intervention. And the absolute worst is when the AI gets itself stuck in such a way that prevents rescue, like getting wedged between some trees on a slope. So if you are planning on moving close to woods, tighten up your formations or choose column to make transit easier. Also consider splitting into sections to minimize the slowdowns and disruptions.
If the AI tanks get stuck, jump to the problem vehicle and manually get him out of trouble if you can. Remember that manually controlling him will split him from his platoon or section, so once he is free, reassign him back to the platoon when he gets close enough.
The coil and herringbone are formations employed when elements of the company are stationary. Coil is getting each vehicle in the platoon facing out in 90 degree increments. So lead might face 12 o’clock, #2 faces 3 o’clock, #3 faces 6 o’clock and #3 faces 9 o’clock. Use this formation for 360 degree security. Herringbone is a little different. Imagine that the vehicles were in column formation and the first vehicle pulls off the road to the left and faces 45 degrees left. The second in line pulls off to the right side of the road and faces 45 degrees right. The third vehicle pulls left and faces 45 degrees left and the last vehicle pulls right and faces 45 degrees right. Use this formation if you are sure that your rear is secure but the front or flanks are at risk.
When you have the opportunity to control a platoon, you can start employing tactical movement so that while one section moves, the other guards it. This is called overwatch and there are a few different kinds that you can use.
Travelling overwatch is the fastest method of moving while still providing protection. The lead section typically moves in the front and the trail section moves with the lead section, occasionally stopping to scan for contacts and threats.
This method trades security for speed and is appropriate when there is a low risk of contact.
Bounding overwatch is similar to leapfrogging movement. One section gets into a good defensive position with a good vantage point of the terrain to be travelled and stops. The second section then moves out past the first section to a good defensive position with a good vantage point of the terrain to be travelled and stops.
It is important that the leading section does not move too far so that the covering section loses eyes on them. Furthermore, the moving section should have the stationary section cover likely fire avenues if they plan on moving out in the open.
This method is slower than travelling overwatch, but it is far more secure because one section is always watching for targets while the other section takes ground. This is the typical method you will use when there is a good chance of enemy contact.
Successive bounding overwatch is the slowest yet most secure of the tactical movement options. Instead of leapfrogging, the trail section stops at the current overwatch position of the lead section. The lead section then moves up to a defensive position and stops. The new trail section then moves up to the new lead section.
Sometimes, if there is a dogleg in the terrain, you will want to bring both sections up to the deadzone before exposing any of them to the open terrain. Successive bounding overwatch is probably most appropriate in this case.
The biggest benefit of this movement method is that it tends to keep all of the firepower of the tank platoon together more often. Use this method when contact is imminent yet ground still needs to be taken.
You can also set cover arcs for your platoon, just like you can for your individual vehicle. The platoon members seem to cover different sections of the cover arc, like you might expect from such a formation.
Platoon management is not much different from individual tank management except that you control their formation and that you can break the group up into smaller sections. The platoon also gives you some flexibility and power through the user of tactical movement, like overwatch.