I’ve been playing Combat Mission (namely the two later editions of CMBO described above, called Barbarossa to Berlin and Afrika Korps) for about three years now, and am still utterly useless in a multiplayer game versus an actual real person. So, low as I am, I remain in the cesspit of incessant playing against the computer. Whereas the AI Selkrank describes as excellent is, indeed, excellent, this is only one particular facet of the AI the game uses – the Tactical AI, or TacAI. The TacAI controls what units do in the action phase where, using Selkrank’s example, a Sherman flees from a Tiger. The AI that controls the computer player, on the other hand, is not as good – it almost always behaves in a certain way, which I exploit fully wherever possible

1) The AI doesn’t use cover. This isn’t strictly true – the AI occasionally uses cover, it just tends to fail to use it when it’s actually important (i.e. I’m machine-gunning his troops). This usually results in a large pile of dead bodies in open ground – or rather, due to the graphical limitations of the game, several men lying on their backs, all in identical positions. Enough to open the floodgates every time, I tells ya.

2) The AI always goes for the flags. Flags (victory locations, places that get you victory points if you control them at the end of the battle) are important in Combat Mission, although not all-important. You can still win if you cut the enemy to shreds while they try to capture said flags. Guess what the AI try and do, always, without fail, and guess what the end result is.

3) The AI ignores its own units. Several times, in supposedly hard scenarios, I have breezed through, facing only token infantry forces on my way to the objective. I wonder what I did right (or, more to the point, what the enemy did wrong), until I see the battle map sans fog of war. What do I see in the enemy setup zone? A large number of tanks. They haven’t moved all battle. It seems that when the AI is instructed to defend, it defends the area it starts in. I can only imagine the cruel, cold-hearted monsters that constitute the crews of these tanks, when they hear sounds of battle and the screams of the wounded, yet sit there with their engines switched off, having a mug of cocoa.

4) The AI bunches up its units. The sight of high-calibre rockets pouring into my opponent’s setup zone on the very first second of action, and having the enemy surrender to me on the next turn due to extreme casualties, is almost enough to make me want to stop playing the game.

Almost. You see, I’m addicted to winning. Scorn me if you will, but I at least get to practice my Victory Dance more often.