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"Best "overwatch" rules?" Topic


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1,051 hits since 21 Jan 2013
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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Jan 2013 11:51 p.m. PST

I have never found rules for overwatch I really liked. They all just seem too gamey. So what are your favorite and why?

BlackSmoke Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:21 a.m. PST

Force on Force would get my vote. Many rules confuse overwatch with opportunity fire, but FoF has them both. The reaction system gives you opp fire, but you can also declare overwatch units which can interrupt a reaction and suppress the enemy, thus letting your men move freely. I believe that's a better implementation of the concept than I've ever seen elsewhere.

Cornelius Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:22 a.m. PST

A good opportunity fire rule is about surprise and spotting (noting GoodWood's disctinction).

I have no suggested mechanism but I would like to make the point that in most (all?) games (I am mainly thinking of WWII low level games), once an enemy unit is spotted by one friendly unit it is known by all. This just seems wrong; both logically, and empirically from reading about actions where one unit watches as another friendly unit blunders into the enemy that the first unit is fully aware of. Some sort of record of which unit know what would be ideal: whether a simple mechanism to achieve it exists is another matter.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:26 a.m. PST

I always liked how Infinity handles it. They have reaction fire and suppression fire. So you can have guys in position to fire on enemy if they come into view, taking a single shot. Or you can have guys shooting at a specific area to suppress targets in that area. It works really well and a 5 on 5 game can be a very intense experience if you have enough terrain.

Phil Dutre22 Jan 2013 12:33 a.m. PST

Crossfire, although it is tightly linked to its unconventional play sequence.

Space Hulk also has a nice overwatch mechanism that works very well in skirmish games.

BrotherSevej Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:37 a.m. PST

I quite like THW combat rules. They're not overwatch per se.

So after movement, when enemies are spotted, each figure roll for initiative. Your guys may go first, or simultaneously, or later than enemies.

Also, you need to flank your enemies because once contact is made, you can only move so far. Position is vital because active figures are actually at slight disadvantage when rolling for initiative. You get bonus for being in cover (such as peeking around a corner, and usually only one guy can peek from a corner). Of course, better characters also have advantage.

Works great if you play with small amount of figures.

Barks1 Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 4:24 a.m. PST

I've got a soft spot for CrossFire- overwatch was easy, fun, and had tactical consequences.

What did you mean by 'gamey', and what are you trying to represent?

Rapier Miniatures Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 5:53 a.m. PST

Operation warboard's No passing Rule.

It meant something could not go from cover to cover without being shot at, and something could not drive past you without being able to shoot at them either.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 6:39 a.m. PST

Can't recall which rules set I read them in, but basically the figure/stand/whatever declares overwatch at the beginning of the turn. it can't move, but may fire at any opposing figures/stands/whatever it sees during the opponent's move. Once it fires it's done for the turn. Obviously, this is not an IGOUGO game – IIRC it was card driven, so if the unit drew it's card early, declaring overwatch would be valuable; if it didn't, there isn't much point.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 6:40 a.m. PST

Gamey: Most rules I'm aware of seem to operate more like opportunity fire. You declare unit X on "overwatch." During the enemy's move if you spot a target you shoot. But many games limit you to one shot. So the enemy sends up the cheapo rifle squad first. Either they take the fire or not. If you hold your fire to shoot at the crack troops behind them, the cheapo rifles will get a free shot on you.

Seems to me overwatch should really be a kind of "area fire." That is, my unit covers this field/bridge/alley. Any enemy entering it is affected, not just the one I choose to shoot at.

I will have to go look at Crossfire again. Ditto for infinity.

Personal logo nazrat Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 7:03 a.m. PST

Fireball Forward's approach to it is great. ANY stand can take op-fire if they see an enemy unit move. You can only fire once at any one platoon with that stand (unless it is an MG, in which case it can fire multiple times with a penalty), but it resets whenever the next platoon starts moving its' elements. Pinning enemy stands becomes hugely important to get unfettered movement, which is as it should be…

Dynaman878922 Jan 2013 7:19 a.m. PST

> Seems to me overwatch should really be a kind of "area fire."

ASL has the best then, complex, but best.

Regular units can fire multiple times, first time at full, second time at half (and only at the closest target), and after that only at units that move adjacent – and they have to make a morale roll (we're being overrun!) Every time you fire you leave a residual fire marker in the hex as well – so any unit entering that hex is attacked by that first and then you can decide to shoot again.

MGs can do the above, and if they roll well they count as not having fired. MGs also have the option of laying down a fire lane – any unit entering that "lane" is attacked at half the MGs usual firepower. Combine that with the -1 for moving and -1 for moving in the open and it is deadly.

Fireball Forward MG fire can also lay down a fire lane in addition to what nazrat mentioned. If it does so it can fire without penalty at any unit entering the lane, but con not fire at anything else. (NRBH, I may have the slightly wrong)

nvdoyle22 Jan 2013 7:21 a.m. PST

There are several good ones already mentioned – Force on Force, Infinity, Crossfire. But I'll make an argument for 6th Ed. 40K's Overwatch: when assaulted, the target unit gets to fire once at their attackers at a very low skill. Why is it good? Because it works within that system.

Necromunda has an overwatch that forces the usual tactical choice – give up your turn for the privilege of firing during the enemy's movement. Seems to work pretty well for that game.

Steve W22 Jan 2013 8:25 a.m. PST

Command Decision had a good spotting and opportunity fire system, not sure if its changed in the latest version

Personal logo richarDISNEY of the RDGC Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 8:26 a.m. PST

GoodWood nails it…
Force on Force has the best version of overwatch I have seen.
IMO…
beer

Caesar22 Jan 2013 9:15 a.m. PST

Another vote for Two Hour Wargames.

Personal logo kallman Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 9:45 a.m. PST

A third for vote for Force on Force.

Personal logo Meiczyslaw Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 11:18 a.m. PST

I quite like THW combat rules. They're not overwatch per se.

You can put a unit "on overwatch" in the original 5150, so it gets a bonus to its "in sight" tests.

It's a relatively elegant way to do it, as is Crossfire's.

I haven't used the ASL rule much, but it seems that it could get a bit weighty on a clogged board. There's a kernel of a good rule there, though -- it could probably be simplified just a touch.

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 11:19 a.m. PST

My view on Opportunity fire – I should NEVER know that it's safe to advance. If I do, then the system isn't good.

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 11:43 a.m. PST

Well, I play simple and straight forward games. IGO-UGO. If I wanted overwatch rules they would be this: A unit can hold fire and shoot if a target presents itself during the enemy move. They can also shoot if an enemy charges them. Units on overwatch are marked. Fire is lost at the end of the opponents move if not used.

nvdoyle22 Jan 2013 11:44 a.m. PST

Sounds like a good combination of 2nd and 6th edition 40K, Joker. grin

emckinney22 Jan 2013 12:08 p.m. PST

> Gamey: Most rules I'm aware of seem to operate more like opportunity fire. You declare unit X on "overwatch." During the enemy's move if you spot a target you shoot. But many games limit you to one shot. So the enemy sends up the cheapo rifle squad first. Either they take the fire or not. If you hold your fire to shoot at the crack troops behind them, the cheapo rifles will get a free shot on you.

Yeah, I've seen that a lot. It gets really silly when a Tiger or 88 is completely dominating an area, but, oh, well, there are two Stuarts …

I you want to go to the extreme, there's the system in the Tactical Combat Series boardgames: each unit can fire Overwatch an unlimited number of times, unless it has made a Suppressive Fire Attack (firing over the course of the turn to keep the enemy's heads down). Of course, a unit that fire Overwatch is subject to Return Overwatch (but the cycle ends there, it's not an infinite chain).

The result is that a "human wave" attack across open ground into the face of a machine-gun platoon is nearly doomed to failure, with numbers having little effect on the chances of success. On the other hand, if you're able to use fire-and-movement tactics, firing return overwatch at the MGs every time they fire, you'll get through eventually.

All of this interacts very nicely with the spotting rules. The attacker probably won't be able to spot those MGs (dug in in terrain?) until they fire, but the MGs can see the advancing infantry a long way out. If the MGs fire, they invite overwhelming return overwatch. Should the MGs hold their fire until the attackers get closer, or … ?

pellen22 Jan 2013 12:12 p.m. PST

Crossfire looks good. 3 simple solutions from boardgames:

- Automatic die roll for losses for being in field of fire of enemy units. No gamey and time consuming subgame of deciding what unit to fire at what target.

- Let mgs place Pin marker on one unit in range, roll for morale iff unit wants to move or fire.

- Multiple short movement and defensive fire phases per turn.

Wartopia Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 12:24 p.m. PST

I've never liked real-time op-fire rules in which one player halts another player's moving a unit mid-way to resolve fire. Too error prone wrt troop positioning and too slow imo.

Nor do I enjoy unrestricted op-fire in which a unit can shoot an enemy visible for a brief moment such as one dashing across a tiny gap between buildings.

OTOH to capture modern tactics I believe op-fire of some type is crucial, and not just against charging troops as in 40K and and its WWII stepchild, FoW.

We settled on a compromise that uses turn sequence to provide virtual op-fire based on unit actions. Simple, fast, and it punishes both running around in lethal fields of fire and failing to set up good fields of fire.

emckinney22 Jan 2013 1:37 p.m. PST

pellen: what games are those from?

Wartopia: Your brought this topic up here TMP link but what (where?) are the details of your solution?

freewargamesrules22 Jan 2013 2:28 p.m. PST

I would agree with other Fireball Forward represents it the best. You have to use proper tactics, move and fire and pin the enemy down.

Feet up now22 Jan 2013 2:44 p.m. PST

I like overwatch in game systems with action points as you have to use points to apply overwatch.
Also if you save enough it could be aimed or rapid fire depending on weapon or points left.
I know combatzone uses AP but played a modern war skirmish and can not remember the name of the rules (rubs head in shame) .Both have action point systems and overwatch seemed to suit them.

I do not like ugo igo overwatch as cheesy fast accurate forces have an advantage with the points a slow inaccurate probable cheaper force can still have an advantage if applied well.

Personal logo Tango 2 3 Ditto Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 3:12 p.m. PST

Another vote for Crossfire.

In more structured game sequences, I don't think being on "overwatch" (we called it "support" as in "supporting the other leg of the leapfrog forward") should have any more benefits than a vehicle that has not moved for a while.
--
Tim

Zephyr122 Jan 2013 3:57 p.m. PST

Another way to do it is to set the figure/unit on 'overwatch'. When an opposing figure/unit shows itself, roll a D6. On an EVEN, the overwatcher(s) can fire, on an ODD they miss their chance (but can still attempt to fire again on overwatch later when another possible target presents itself.) That should add some unpredictability…. ;-)

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 4:19 p.m. PST

"I've never liked real-time op-fire rules in which one player halts another player's moving a unit mid-way to resolve fire. Too error prone wrt troop positioning and too slow imo."

I agree. And it also leads to some special gamey tactics that involve sending out a sacrificial redshirt to get killed by the enemy MG (because you know it's there, and because you know it can only Opp Fire once, etc, etc.)

In systems where the whole turn flips from one side to the other, this is even worse. The squad rushes across the street…. but of course they're not a squad; they're a bunch of lead figures picked up and moved individually by a single human hand, because in each case you have to make sure that he doesn't exceed his movement allowance, or do terrain wrong, etc… So the result is: one guy runs out into the street, gets killed by the MG, and then the other 9 guys in the squad scratch their heads and say, "Did the Lt. just order us across the street? Or was that order only for Jenkins? Oh well, guess we're pinned now. Poor Jenkins. Wonder what Jerry will do next?"

Or my favorite: the Overwatch Plus Hidden Unit syndrome. I have a hidden MG, and I want to keep it hidden until I get a really juicy shot at lots of exposed targets. So what do you do? Move your squad, one figure at a time, across the street. At no time will I ever be able to kill more than one guy, because the figures can't move simultaneously, even if you wanted them to.

* *

I don't think modern combat games need either spotting or opp fire, actually.

I like Bolt Action's randomized squad / team activation. Sure, it leaves some cases where an enemy can stroll into the street and not get shot… but who's to say that your shooter would always be able to see, shoot at, and/or hit him, anyway? We don't have to roll a die, everything something is possible. If I get lucky and get the next activation next turn, then you're toast. If not, then I guess my guy was taking a pee right as you ran across the street.

BrotherSevej Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 7:18 p.m. PST

@Klumpenproletariat
I also agree that modern games do not *need* opp fire. A simple alternating activation also works.

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 9:30 p.m. PST

You mean as the guys "Panzerbush" their way over the 1000 yards in front of my position to assault my dug in machine gun?

And who thinks modern troops always know where the everyone is? Half the time you aren't sure where your own friendlies are much less the enemy.

Mac Walker22 Jan 2013 10:19 p.m. PST

Another vote for Crossfire, where in effect oppotrunity fire IS the game.

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 11:09 a.m. PST

like Bolt Action's randomized squad / team activation. Sure, it leaves some cases where an enemy can stroll into the street and not get shot… but who's to say that your shooter would always be able to see, shoot at, and/or hit him, anyway? We don't have to roll a die, everything something is possible. If I get lucky and get the next activation next turn, then you're toast. If not, then I guess my guy was taking a pee right as you ran across the street.

In RL there is always the lucky bastard who charged the machine gun nest and single handedly took it out.

We played a home grown set where units went on a card activation. The last unit activated in the game had the opportunity to do something brave like charge across an open field. The problem was that you could either move or fire but not both. So you could run right up to the machine gun nest and if you activated first on the next turn, you could potentially wipe the nest out. we called this the Medal of Honor maneuver. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. It always gave spectacular results!

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2013 1:33 p.m. PST

And for every lucky bastard, there are 1000 dead men who didn't find charging a MG to be very smart.

Let the opp fire happen and if after all the dice are rolled the guy is still standing, then he's the lucky bastard. Don't design mechanics that let charging a MG to be successful on a 50-50 basis.

Phil Dutre24 Jan 2013 12:45 a.m. PST

It also depends on what you want to portray with both types of fire (firing in your own turn vs. opportunity fire).

One can imagine that there are 2 modes of firing IRL: actively seeking out the enemy and taking a shot at him; or passively waiting till someone shows up and then fire.

The first more could be modeled as firing during one's own turn; the second as firing during the opponent's turn. But turns are an abstraction that are not there on the real battlefield.

Also, what should be the effectiveness rate between the two types of fire?
Typically, in one's own turn, you can engage a single target. But can you engage all troops that move within sight during opportunity fire? In that case, opp-fire is much more efficient in terms of figures that can be engaged. So, we start playing with the odds of hitting a figures, and that leads to different mechanisms for resolving the two modes of firing. Clunky.

Ideally, the gaming engine should be designed in such a way that there is no need to distinguish between two two.

BlackSmoke Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2013 2:57 a.m. PST

Again FoF comes up trumps! Every time the overwatch unit fires it loses a dice from it's attack pool. So you can 'distract' them by moving and firing with the weaker units first so that, when your big hitter turns up, the overwatch fire has petered out.

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