Groups are important and can add to the difficulty of a mission by spreading intelligence over multiple troops as well as improving their coordination. If you have some military knowledge, you know that the army works with fireteams, squads, platoons and upwards. These groups of organized units are assembled to make them more effective in combat.
A standard group is one of units linked to each other (Image 1), which is resembled by blue lines connecting the icons. Feel free to make groups up to hundreds of soldiers, but keep in mind that ArmA is bad at AI pathfinding and can't make them work together as effectively as a platoon works in real life.
What happens when you link units? A group has a leader, the soldier with the highest rank (set in the unit dialog) and several soldiers. If he dies, the unit with the second highest rank takes command. In a group, soldiers share enemy contact info, thus improving their effectiveness in combat. Info of enemy units is stored per unit in a value, knowsAbout. With 4 being its maximum and 0 the minimum - the value depends on the amount of intel available for the enemy unit.
Apart from determining the order of command, a rank has another use. The morale of a group is influenced by it, lots of colonels in a group result in a high morale and prevent a group from fleeing.
We have a group with a captain, two sergeants and 10 privates. They are walking near Corazol and suddenly Jack the Private spots an enemy. A radio message is sent "ENEMY SOLDIER, 500 metres, 12'o clock". Now the captain starts yelling orders and the sentry is soon taken care of.
A sniper opens fire and kills the captain, one of the sergeants (first placed sergeant) takes command and leads his men to a concealed position when an artillery shell kills both sergeants. The remaining soldiers panic, because of the lack of leadership, and decide to hope for the best and flee back to Corazol.
There is another 'group' type, a unit linked to a trigger which results in a trigger activating depending on the unit, referred to as 'vehicle' in the dialog of the trigger. With it you can make a trigger activate when a soldier enters its radius, instead of it activating when any unit of any or some side enters. Read more in Ch. 6 - Triggers.
Now that we have placed some lonely enemy units and have explained group basics, it is time to place a few enemy squads as reinforcements in case the player isn't fast enough. To do this, we are going to use the groups button. Select it either by clicking on it or by pressing F2 on the keyboard.
By doubleclicking on the map we can now place a squad, which is a collection of units mostly assigned to do a specific task. In this mission a standard SLA group will function as backup - making it harder for the player to complete the mission. As the backup should arrive immediatly, doubleclick somewhere in the red marked area (as shown in the image). Upon double clicking see the group dialog.
The group dialog (Image 2) has three lists and an azimut-o-meter. With the azimut you can determine the direction the squad will face when placed. Note that you can change the azimut of a group by selecting an entire group, keeping it selected and then holding SHIFT to change its azimut. In the same fashion as with individual units.
First you have to select which side the group is on. For the group we place, make it "SLA". Next up is the type of the group; there are some options to choose from, notice that selecting one will influence what group names can be selected in the third dropdown list. For type select "Infantry Squad", name should be "Basic Squad". To place the group press "OK". Note that you can't delete groups at once, you will have to move your mouse cursor over each unit and press "DELETE".
Let's take a closer look at each of the groups before learning more about the blue lines connecting the men. Almost no differences exist between "BLUFOR" and "OPFOR" groupwise, only a few units are different (in groups) which is logical as the SLA and US have different units and weapons. As we have placed an SLA squad, let's take a look at the SLA groups in this tutorial.
The first type is the "Armor Platoons", which will give you only one Name option, "T72 Platoon". This places a group of four T72s on the map, which for example, enables you to prepare tank battles. Note that the T72 is the only Main Battle Tank in the game for the OPFOR and the M1A1 is the only one for BLUFOR.
Next up are the "Infantry Squads", the most used option. As shown in Image 3, this type will open five subclasses. The basic squad is the main bulk of infantry, leading the way for any combined operation and possibly infantry only operations. The weapons squad has been equipped with powerful M240s, which makes them suitable for support fire.
The "Special Squad" is the one to use in SF missions, as a four men strong Especas team will be placed on the map. The motorized and mechanized squads include an UAZ and BMP2 respectively and bring the squads up to speed and provide better manoeuvrability.
Finally, "Air Squadrons" presents two squadrons. An attack squadron and a transport squadron. Each squadron consists of four helicopters capable of either attacking vital objectives or transporting a lot of men to the combat zone.
Note that a group isn't a tight element, you can add more units or remove some of the group. Simply by clicking the Groups button or pressing F2 and drawing a line either from a unit to empty space (remove unit) or adding one by drawing a line from a unit to a unit of the group. However, when placing a unit close enough to an already made group - the editor automatically links the unit to a nearby group.
Let's get back to our mission. The reinforcements group we placed lacks a medic, let's place a medic (F1 / Units) close to the group. Make sure that he gets grouped to the reinforcements (Image 4).
To add more depth to the mission, we're going to add a 'special' dialog with a spy. To do so, we use a trick. Place an east unit to the west of the player's starting position, a bit to the left of the hill 20 so that the spy isn't visible to the player upon starting the mission. To make it known to the player that something is at that position, place a marker over or near the spy. Type: "unknown", green colour and name the marker "spy".
Next, create a west unit - any type, but important: set probability of presence to 0% and give him a high rank (Colonel). Now, group the west and east unit you placed. As the spy is grouped with a high ranking west unit - the east unit will be regarded as a western soldier in eastern clothes. We set the probability of presence to 0% as there is no need for a US Colonel (Image 5). Finally, go to the east unit's initialization field and type:
This removes all the spy's weapons, which alarms the player - let's hope that he doesn't shoot the spy..
That concludes the "Groups" chapter. Note that we have only placed units and groups so far, however, they are still static. Reinforcements have been placed a few hundred metres from the base and won't head to the base on their own. Time to head to the next section of this tutorial in order to find out more about dynamics!
Group Information table
|Type:||Name:||Units (US / SLA):|
|Armor Platoons||M1A1 Platoon||4x M1A1 / T72|
|Air Squadrons||Attack Squadron||4x AH-1Z / Ka-50|
|Air Squadrons||Transport Squadron||2x UH-60, 2x UH-60 (FFAR) / Mi-17|
|Infantry Squads||Basic Squad||1x Squadleader, 2x Teamleader, 2x Grenadier, 2x Automatic Rifleman, 1x AT Specialist, 1x Sniper|
|Infantry Squads||Weapons Squad||1x Squadleader, 2x Machinegunner, 4x Rifleman|
|Infantry Squads||Special Squad||1x SF Assault, 2x SF Saboteur, 1x SF Marksmen|
|Infantry Squads||Motorized Squad||1x Squadleader, 1x Grenadier, 1x Machinegunner, 1x HMMWV (M2) / UAZ MG|
|Infantry Squads||Mechanized Squad||1x Squadleader, 1x Medic, 1x Machinegunner, 1x AT Specialist, 1x Grenadier, 2x Rifleman, 1x Stryker (ATGM) / BMP2|