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"Combat ineffectives" Topic

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1,188 hits since 21 Jul 2012
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Mr Elmo21 Jul 2012 3:56 p.m. PST

I had the chance to play a set of skirmish home rules at Historicon. In six turn game a few soldiers became "stunned" for 3 turns and then their hit chance was reduced to 10%.

I began to wonder: why are we tracking this? They are combat effective, let's remove them from the table and move on. I know some games seem too deadly when everyone "dies" but it speeds up play a lot.

Cyclops Inactive Member21 Jul 2012 4:06 p.m. PST

Are there rules for evacuating casualties? If so it's worthwhile. Otherwise I'd remove them and, if necessary, roll for their status after the game.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian21 Jul 2012 4:11 p.m. PST

They are combat effective…

Did you mean "combat ineffective"?

Mr Elmo21 Jul 2012 6:06 p.m. PST

Yes, blame the iPhone keyboard.

And there was no evacuating

combatpainter Fezian Inactive Member21 Jul 2012 6:09 p.m. PST

There they go trying to re-invent the wheel. Lol…In Disposable Heroes only half the guys rounded up, in a squad, get to fire. I really like this mechanism. It simulates these guys who are combat ineffective without really having to keep track of anything.

Saxondog21 Jul 2012 6:11 p.m. PST

I figure 10% is better then zero. Leave them on the table. Just my opinion.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member21 Jul 2012 7:01 p.m. PST

Vaguely on topic, I've got a "wargame" from Sandhurst somewhere that is based on studies that showed fewer than 25% of soldiers in WW2 would actually fire effectively (or at all) during combat. The 10% or so who not only fired but aimed properly and maintained a degree of situational awareness generally decided a fight by themeselves. In the game, you draw chits to see whether a figure is effective or useless as they encounter stress, usually by coming under fire. It's a bad game and probably not a good simulation even (studies or no) but it does give some of the same effect you're talking about – lots of troops who "see the elephant" and immediately go to ground, panic and run, or just freeze uselessly for the whole fight.

artaxerxes Inactive Member21 Jul 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

Chief Lackey,

this is essentially the thesis of S.L.A. Marshall's Men Against Fire – his claims and 'findings' have subsequently been disputed on the grounds, amongst others, that he did not actually have the statistical backing for the claims he advanced.

Andy ONeill22 Jul 2012 2:28 a.m. PST

Strange that several other studies seem to come up with similar numbers. The net effect seems to match actual combat effects.

So which part of his conclusions is incorrect and what is your own preferred explanation?

arthur181522 Jul 2012 3:22 a.m. PST

Men Against Fire is one of the games in Paddy Griffith's Book of Sandhurst Wargames.

I was lucky to play this game with Paddy umpiring years ago. IMHO it is far from 'a bad game' as it places the players in a confused, fog of war situation very well, using only simple systems and an active umpire.

It is a good model/simulation of SLA Marshall's thesis – whether that thesis is valid or not is another matter – and an interesting example of using an interactive game to explain/demonstrate one, clearly specified,interpretation of history, rather than merely claiming to be 'realistic' or 'historical'.

Mr Elmo22 Jul 2012 4:20 a.m. PST

I figure 10% is better then zero. Leave them on the table.

the larger problem is the game time wasted. The stunned and bleeding people are still taking up "activations"

It's like that in games were people want to take an extreme rage shot at someone in cover so you troll thru a laundry list of modifiers to determine you need to roll a 2 or less on a d20 and they miss. THERE'S four minutes of my life I can't get back.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 7:45 a.m. PST

That's wargamers for you. Me, i simply don't put "extreme range" in the book. Just because some nitwit hit the side of a barn from 10,000 yards once, doesn't mean you should be opening up at 10,000 yards. I prefer rules that deal with "range at which units would normally have opened fire, historically speaking."

Timbo W22 Jul 2012 7:51 a.m. PST

Skirmish games too often used to end with two sides of wounded men hopping or crawling slowly towards one another to interminably duel to the death.

What fixes this? Morale!

On keeping wounded figures in play, I think it depends on whether this is a very small scale skirmish (eg say upto 6 figs per side) when it's not too much of a burden, or a larger skirmish with say 20 per side where it becomes tedious. Perhaps count any wounded in this case as 'out of the game' unless they pass some morale/heroics roll. But don't take them off as, in reasonably civilised forces at least, they will require evacuation to the rear. If they can't be evacuated then it would likely mean a negative morale modifier for the remaining force.

Last Hussar22 Jul 2012 9:02 a.m. PST

In Troops Weapons and Tactics, and IABSM I assume not all kills are dead men – wargames give horrendous death ratios otherwise – and if in a campaign then may of those men will come back, either through healing, or just men who were 'in a funk' in the battle.

CDS has a 'critical hit' system that forces the Free World forces to call in Medivac: it's not like track every wound – it is to give an added complication to the Political VP for FW player.

Lentulus Inactive Member22 Jul 2012 10:01 a.m. PST

became "stunned" for 3 turns

What happens on the 4th turn?

vtsaogames Inactive Member22 Jul 2012 12:10 p.m. PST

My view on Marshall's "Men Against Fire": I think he was onto something but he made impossible claims about the amount of research he'd done. His claims were revealed to be phony and the thesis was trashed along with his claims.

I think the baby was thrown out with the wash water.

MajorB22 Jul 2012 3:01 p.m. PST

Not familiar with Bleeped text text (edit: such a childish name, I won't even bother to try the game, IABSM is an odd enough off-putting name for a rule set as it is!

That's good old British humour for you!

artaxerxes Inactive Member23 Jul 2012 1:47 a.m. PST

PDF link



Read and draw your own conclusions. There are a couple of critical, book-length studies of SLA Marshall and his career but I don't have my work (as opposed to home) library at hand an can't source them quickly.

Andy ONeill23 Jul 2012 2:46 a.m. PST

Very few people die from being shot once combat is engaged unless and until very short range.
30 yards is the rough cut off.
There are obvious exceptions like crew served machineguns shooting at targets walking in the open.
Weapons systems shared by 2 or more men are more effective at killing.

Realistic rules should allow for platoon vs platoon at 100 yards firing at each other for 7 or 8 hours and zero people hit.
They should also allow for suppression of some sort.
This is by far the main effect of small arms fire. Beyond short range.
And an active section encountering a suppressed section at close range should pretty much annihilate it.

Assuming you agree with Grossman.
( And I think the US army. )
Roughly 10% of a force will do the majority of the damage to the enemy.
Modern training tries to increase the effectiveness of the other 90% so in ww2 terms the kill ration or whatever you want to call it for that 10% would be higher.

But as someone else said.
Identifying your 10% psychos and making them run rings round your opponents probably doesn't make for a great game.
Mind you.
Any german force meeting David Stirling didn't have much fun.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 4:00 a.m. PST

It is interesting that this discussion seems to have centered on 20th and 21st Century warfare.

I wonder how the '10 percent' theory worked in earlier periods. Would a Viking or Medieval army for example, be composed entirely of the "10% psychos"?

Andy ONeill24 Jul 2012 3:23 a.m. PST

Grossman reckons deep down most people are hard wired to dislike killing people.
The reticence to kill is subconcious.
So the modern infantryman thinks he's fine killing.
The Viking would presumably also.
Difficult to argue with that.
Self preservation kicks in at some point though.
Which also seems pretty obvious.

The Viking's combat is all under 30 yards.
It's all hack or be hacked.

An arrow storm and modern indirect fire is impersonal.
So the thing to compare would be the individual archer shooting at an individual 100 yards away.
Tricky to get that data.
I would imagine that as 300 knights charge towards a unit of bowmen then self preservation would kick in differently than on the modern empty battlefield.

Timbo W24 Jul 2012 12:28 p.m. PST

I guess one thing is that the Vikings etc were all lined up out in the open under the beady eyes of their chiefs and, probably more importantly, all their mates. Serious hanging-back is going to be noticed by someone, with negative consequences!

As for the 10% Psychos – Berserkers?

By WW2 troops have to be dispersed and occupying cover (at least in most fore-fights) so there's more chance to 'get away with' hanging back in cover.

One thing I'm not sure of about Marshall's claims is whether he's talking about infantry in general or just riflemen and/or machine gunners. At least amongst the Germans the rest of the squad were mostly used to carry ammo for the squad MG after all, so in that case 10% of the squad would do the vast majority of the shooting.

Andy ONeill25 Jul 2012 3:11 a.m. PST

Yep, some other psychological pressures are at work if you stand in a unit and fight side by side with your friends.
Peer pressure to "do the right thing" would be overwhelming if your peer is stood next to you and can see you do nothing.
Let him down and maybe he gets killed as well.

It's a lot different to lying in cover whilst someone you can't really make out shoots at who knows what from a hundred yards away.
Much more obvious immediacy.
If that's a word.

By rifleman I think Marshall's on about the individual fired weapon system.
Which could be a BAR or a bren.
Crew served weapons are much more effective.
Grossman ( and others ) point to the shared responsibility for killing.
Part of the reason snipers have spotters.
Soldiers are frequently rather reluctant to shoot someone in total "cold blood". They're less reluctant if someone else shares the decision.
The target is drinking coffee… Hmmm… doesn't look very dangerous.
The spotter says shoot.
OK, not your decision.

The loader of a mg42 ( or 30 cal) can also potentially see the gunner is mowing people down or not.
Plus the section lead is most likely to be keeping an eye on his major weapon system.

Umpapa15 Aug 2012 1:30 p.m. PST

CDS has a 'critical hit' system that forces the Free World forces to call in Medivac: it's not like track every wound it is to give an added complication to the Political VP for FW player.

What is CDS? Could Youe explain it better?

By WW2 troops have to be dispersed and occupying cover (at least in most fore-fights) so there's more chance to 'get away with' hanging back in cover.

It's a lot different to lying in cover whilst someone you can't really make out shoots at who knows what from a hundred yards away.Much more obvious immediacy.

Are there simply wargaming solution (rules) to underline this effect?
I mean: the more concentrated your unit (closer command range from squad leader) the better reaction to orders (combat effectiveness) but bigger risk of loosing whole squad to template/burst weapons?Other that obvious calculating command range?

C3 template? (f.ex. Your squad either goes under such template or not, causing ineffectiveness of soldiers beyond template.)

Loop of centimetered string around whole squad to represent
lowering combat effectiveness?

Last Hussar15 Aug 2012 2:22 p.m. PST

CDS is Charlie Don't Surf – Viet Nam rule set.

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