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"What are the best rules for sighting units through forests?" Topic

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913 hits since 6 Jan 2013
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MrMerkava Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 6:45 a.m. PST

I am searching for the best, most realistic rules concerning units sighting each other through forests, not out of the forests.

I am looking for the most detailed rules possible for this situation

amount of forest and types of forest through which units are sighting should be accounted for

any ideas or suggestions would be helpful

fred12df Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 8:10 a.m. PST

Muskets and Tomahawks has a lot of detail in respect to sighting, and wooded cover – obviously not the period you are interested in.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 8:28 a.m. PST

I would simply rate each wood for visibility. An orchard, for example, impedes sight very little. Some woods are so dense visibility = hand in front of your face. Other deep woods have little to no undergrowth so visibility might be upwards of 50-100 yards.

How far can you see in woods is a but like how long is a piece of string?

vaughan Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 8:49 a.m. PST

The old Bodycount Vietnam rules had fairly complex visibility rules based on the "visibility obscuration quotient" of the terrain and included factors for how fast you were moving, junge craft, formation etc. These were designed for platoon size skirmish games.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 9:45 a.m. PST

It first depends on period (here modern board we suppose recent/last 30years?)
then on time scale (we can assume a lot more can be done in a 20minute "game turn" than in 1 minute.)

Do we actually want sighting, or accurate knowledge of the enemy or just awareness?
Such as may come from noise- say horse and musket of 2158 men walking nearby or modern of 14 tracked vehicles trashing in and noise would depend on the surrounding mayhem of battle-or not).

Forests? European or else?
European would come in 2 main types:

open (that is inside, not much vegetation because you get hight close trees shutting down light.)Veh
. move depends on trees spacing; most often still needing foot security to feel hidden depressions etc.

close: lots of vegetation inside, most often making foot movement very hard and needing cutting. Vehicles need dismounted personnel to sniff difficulties.
Most of the time forget vehicles inside except on paths.
Both types, most often than not have very (deceptively) close overgrowth on the sides that render visibility (of hiding/camo foot) from outside very hazardous.

For game purpose it is very hard to give accurate and general rules, best have a restrictive global system that will be polished per scenarios. (are you on a slope? what kind of trees etc. If you don't know what i mean please go out and look or just ferret pictures on the net; take films and stop them and look etc.)
You might want to have a variable unknown accurate effect of the inside of your forest as pertains real life, even on sightings/awareness. (hidden counters?)
Games need simplicity but with a bit of thinking it does not have to be so far from reality (or its effects).

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian06 Jan 2013 9:55 a.m. PST

Take a look at the Battlefront: WW-II rules. Varying degrees of and types of concealment and cover

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 10:33 a.m. PST

Detailed and complicated does not mean better when the end result is still "medium wood; visibility six inches."

MrMerkava Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 10:56 a.m. PST

wow, thanks a lot guys
I posted this on another forum for wargame and got zilch
to those of you who are recommending a certain wargame's formula, such as:
could you please, if you get a chance, write down here on this forum the basic jist of the rules you are suggesting? I'd really appreciate even a sentence on how your rules handle this rather tricky situation

to those of you who asked intelligent questions:

Fred12 I really dont think it matters. the forests have not changed substantially over the centuries, other than the recent impact of global warming, which I dont feel would matter in this game
extra crispy how would each type of forest's rating effect the visibilty factor?

vaughn whats junge?
the psychoanalyst?
JCFrog modern wargaming, era 1970 to present or so. and by aquisition I mean the ability to fire at the unit, not just some amorphous awareness.

thanks for your help

corporalpat Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 10:59 a.m. PST

Check out how the Toofatlardies blind system works in their rule systems. Also, I agree that more complex does not necessarily mean better.

scomac06 Jan 2013 11:12 a.m. PST

I'll second Battlefront WWII's sighting system. Spotted units are classed as foot, small vehicles/guns, and large vehicles. A unit gets easier to spot as it moves or fires. Some spotting units (scouts, FOs) have an easier time spotting.

UshCha06 Jan 2013 12:12 p.m. PST

You did not mention use of IR devices.

Proably in reality a man knowing you are approaching with enough time to set up is proably invisible untill he wants to kill you. In effect down to 4 real ft or less. Watch for several hours and you may see him move to take a leak, go back to get food and water. You may see him if you do reconnisance by fire but you would have to be realistic about how much ammo you could use doing this. Its easy to be complicated but does it really add to the game?

Will you define the wood in patches some dence some open. Are they deciduious if so season and time of day may have an influence. Bare trees may well transmitt sounds better than full leaf as they are nearer acoustically hard.

The level of wind will also impact acoustic detection. Type of undergrowth is an issue.
Do you have to cut it as you pass through like a jungle? Is it dried leaves which make a noise? Will passing through leave an obvious track or a barely disernable path.

Well do you want it complicated?

vaughan Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 12:14 p.m. PST

Junge = jungle but I've just had a look and it's actually field craft rating.
Essentially you roll a dice, modify for observers height, add the difference in field craft rating (2, for poor troops up to 5 for special forces types) adjust for how the target is moving (from -6 for crawling up to +8 for running), multiply the result by the VOQ of the terrain (from 0.5 for rainforest up to +8 for open roads). The result of all this maths is the distance the target can be seen at.
A similar calculation determines if a firing unit can be seen with higher factors for noisier, more visible weapons.
The assumption is that hidden, non moving or firing units are essentially invisible; the more noise and activity you make, the more attention you attract.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 2:29 p.m. PST

Fire in woods so…
well then very close mostly a few dozen meters. Often too close for the ground scale compression we use in games. I second battlefront F&Fury that has a lot to it.

About European woods: if close to houses they do have changed: they have more undergrowth nowadays because people don't use them for wood.
One of the things: blue on blue and control.

fred12df Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 2:54 p.m. PST


Uses spotting ranges based on bands, with different distances for open, light cover, heavy cover. IIRC the base is 18" in light cover

Then there are column shifts depending on modifiers, natives get 1 shift harder to spot (down to 12") , firing gives 1 shift easier to spot. There are many other modifiers.

Blinds are also used and are only revealed if within spotting distance.

The rules are deterministic, there are no dice rolls for spotting.

From personal real world experience the type of woods makes a huge difference. A pine plantation is very dense and hard to walk through, and see through, at head height. But when lying down you can see a long way as there is next to no ground cover. This is the opposite to most deciduous woodland that has lots of ground cover, but opens out after 3-4'.

Sound is interesting – obviously in a quite woodland sounds can be heard – but in a battlefield situation how much does shelling / general movement / etc mask local noises, even if occurring some distance away?

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 4:25 p.m. PST

Hmmmm, seems to me, blunder into base to base contact, and then you spot them.

Of course, you might be able to hear, or smell them before that.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 6:10 p.m. PST


Normally I treat all woods as light or heavy. But if I wanted a lot more detail here is what I would do.

Visibility rating: 1 to 10 (A 1 is a small copse, or orchard without canopy, a 10 is triple canopy, with elephant grass and haze).

Sighting Rule: Roll a d10, subtract the visibility rating. Modify die roll by troop/leader quality (elite unit with great leader +3 or 4, green troops with FNG: -2). Moved fast: -2 Moved slow: -1 Within 6" +1, 6-12" 0, 12-18" -1 Over 18" -3

Enemy detected on 7+ (you know something is there, use a hidden marker), enemy spotted on 9+ (put units on table).

You can adjust the numbers, but that's what I do.

PHGamer07 Jan 2013 7:33 a.m. PST

WRG visibility has woods visibility set to 40 "paces", about 90 feet. Once I took a walk in a wood in the park, and I stopped, and asked my wife to proceed along a path till I couldn't see her anymore. I lost her at 38 paces. As far as I am concerned, that is good enough for government work.

MrMerkava Inactive Member07 Jan 2013 2:32 p.m. PST

Ushcha nice details, and yes, I want to refine rules for sighting through forests to include all or most of the questions you raised. acoustic, not so much.
deciduous forests are far easier to view through than coniferous forests. the seasons of the year will impact dramatically the visibilty through the woods. I intend to make a different chart for winter wargaes and summer season wargames. I personally do not like this "ratings" to each types of terrain. it is much simpler during a game to simply make deductions to the normal aquisition base chance at that range.

extra crispy thanks a lot for those answers. good details I intend to have only two types of deciduous woods as well, but also the coniferous forests which are the densest, the easiest for tanks to get stuck in, and the hardest to see through

fred yes, that seems about right to me too, but what are natives and blinds?

thanks to ALL for your replies and suggestions. nice website

UshCha07 Jan 2013 2:41 p.m. PST

PH gamer that sound about right. We use 80m as a sop because 40 paces is less than a tank length on our ground scale and it looks daft if the back of the tank is out of sight of the front! The problems of trying to get plasibility when the model scale is out with the ground scale.

PS would not have it any other way. At real model scale to ground scale the world is just to big and complex to deal with ;-).

Milites Inactive Member12 Jan 2013 6:01 a.m. PST

Cambrai to Sinai rules, detection seperate to location, posture is vital. You had to virtually get to bases to base contact to detect prone infantry, which resulted in some bloody firefight/ambushes. The mode of the observer was also important, charge around and you had little or no chance to detect previously undetected units. Lots of creeping around the woods, slow but tense games. Shame so much of the game was unplayable.

Ah, Bodycount, the rules should have come with a calculator! It did though teach me running for distant cover is not a good idea. Neither is sending in a LOACH to 'find' that 'bloody MG'!

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