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"Representing suppression and pinning in games" Topic


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Ark3nubis30 Jun 2013 2:18 a.m. PST

Hi all,

This seems to have been an ever increasingly aspect of games over the years, how to represent how the weight of fire effects a target unit's ability to fight. I am interested to know your thoughts on the best used methods and mechanics in your favourite games, as well as their short falls too.

I see pinning and suppression as subtley different; Suppression is when the target unit is impaired, still able to fight, but at reduced overall capacity to perform to their best. Pinned is where the unit is literarily 'pinned', they are stuck in place, unable to move or fight until.

The methods i am aware of thus far are;

I have played Black Powder s couple of times only but units taking fire from the enemy will suffer from Shock (suppression/pinning) and also Disorder. Carried with the unit until they rally the effects off if I remember correctly.

I haven't played 40K in years, and the last time a unit was hit by a pinning weapon there was no effect on the unit. It was only when they took a casualty and even then a Ld test would mean they ignore being pinned. In addition as most weapons did not have the ability 'pinning weapon' there was no other way to suppress a unit with regular shooting.

Necromunda by GW has it that a model hit by enemy fire is pinned, in addition to being wounded if the roll was good enough. A pinned model would bs unable to move or fight for a turn, but were fine if attacked in close combat.

FOW, again haven't played in years, but platoons taking 5 hits from enemy shooting would fall back 12? inches and were pinned if a Morale test were failed. (Russian platoons over a certain size needed 10 hits to bs pinned)

Bolt Action, if you are hit by enemy shooting you receive a pin marker per unit, thus imposing a -1 on your to hit ability per pin. With 3+ to hit typically 4 or more pins and you can't shoot or do anything. Morale tests to shake pins off and reduce their effect on the unit.

My own game I wrote a few years ago, each hit causes suppression in addition to possibly any other effects (wound or kill) Once you have as many suppressions on a unit as there are models they then take a pin marker. Pins will reduce Morale by -1 per pin and cumulatively will be devastating. In addition failed morale tests will reduce the unit's ability to move as well, so if you have 3 suppression on and fail you CMD test by 2, the difference was 1 thus meaning you had -1 to your move penalty (sounds complicated but worked well) but now that BA is out my way is a more layered method than Bolt Action's.

I also read on a forum a couple of months ago about a system that meant a pinned unit's state was unknown until the enemy reached them in assault. Players would then roll a CMD test and consult a chart. The results could be anything from the unit is OK through to they were destroyed or fled before their enemy even got to them thus leaving their position exposed. This to me is a really nice fog-of-war representation.

So what's your favourite method or representation of pinning/ suppression, and how could/should it be shown in a game?

Cheers,

Ark3n

Static Tyrant30 Jun 2013 3:20 a.m. PST

For scifi skirmish games I wrote some rules which have individual models gaining Suppression each time cover saves them from being killed (cover forcing a reroll to the 'to hit/to damage' roll), but units as a whole taking morale checks each time they take fire (with casualties inflicted providing a hefty negative modifier).

Failed morale checks downgrade the status of a unit, which affects the unit's ability to perform the more 'gung-ho' actions such as assaulting or rapid firing; but if a unit ever begins its turn with all models suppressed the unit ignores its status and instead counts as pinned.

Suppression can be removed (and units who haven't failed too many morale tests find it much easier to shake off suppression) but the results of failed morale tests can never be reversed, as units become physically and mentally exhausted.

To my mind, these rules taken together tells the 'story' of a battle well, and at multiple levels too (individual/squad/platoon). The downside is book-keeping: one marker per squad (coloured token) to show morale level, and markers (dice) next to models who have been suppressed and haven't shaken it off yet.

UshCha30 Jun 2013 4:24 a.m. PST

We Maneouver Group use a single elemet suppression system. Depending on the situation you will recieve either a suppression and possibly 1 or more reduction in "Leadership" this is an approximation of Fear, fire, fatigue and Leadersip. If you have less fire power in a firefight you will progerssivly get more and mor suppressed. At that point further advance is not possible. This is in effect pinning without rules. In practice players realise once a fee elements are suppressed wheather tey acn prcally make progess or whether they stop their advance before all the elements get suppresseed to themaximum. Should this happed then elements become succeptible to counter attack.

This is based on the old adage "first win the firefight then assult".

There are no drawbacks to this system I can se (but to be fair I wrotr an published the rules so I am biased). What is always up for debate is how much firepower and by what should cause a suppression. The lack of understanding of the employment of weponary by some rule writers and the players is somtimes supprising. The number of games that assume/insist an MG fires forward and not to the flank is asstounding. Thse have significant impact on what/who and how a unit is pinned however you resolve it.

MajorB30 Jun 2013 5:25 a.m. PST

Pinning and suppression are very much modern concepts. I really don't think they apply pre 20th century.

Martin Rapier30 Jun 2013 5:58 a.m. PST

"I see pinning and suppression as subtley different; Suppression is when the target unit is impaired, still able to fight, but at reduced overall capacity to perform to their best. Pinned is where the unit is literarily 'pinned', they are stuck in place, unable to move or fight until."

Where they are differentiated I tend to see pinned as just that, they are unable to move, but they can still spot, shoot etc.

Suppressed units otoh are in a much worse state, pinned down and either unable to fight or only do so at hugely reduced effectivness.

The definitions used in Crossfire in fact.

Sometimes these results are all rolled into to one, such as WRGs 'neutralised' or Squad Leaders 'broken'.

The vast majority of results from small arms fire should be in the pinned/suppressed category. It is extremely hard to kill people with bullets when they are lying down at ranges much above 25m.

"I also read on a forum a couple of months ago about a system that meant a pinned unit's state was unknown until the enemy reached them in assault."

I use that mechanism in my WW1 East African rules, but it wasn't original even when I wrote them.

rabbit30 Jun 2013 7:19 a.m. PST

I agree with the Major in that pinning and suppression are very much modern concepts, troops did not hit the dirt and keep their heads down. they stood and took whatever punishment the enemy could deliver, or they ran off! The period between doing what the corporal has told them to do and legging it being the modern concept of supression.

It is clear why some generals did not like their troops to lie down, as it was the devil's own job to get them to stand up again, especially with johnny foreigner trying to fill them full of holes.


In GdeB I believe the concept is covered by the "Falter" morale result, troops which suffer a check are not caused to retire, rout or otherwise exit the field, but they are not in the nice pretty rows beloved of the RSM, nor are they totally concentrating on the job in hand, be that charging, firing, forming square.

Their performance is impaired and they are in today's terms supressed.

Rabbit

Whirlwind30 Jun 2013 7:53 a.m. PST

I'm going to recommend this book again:

link

as recommended by John D Salt for real insights into how and why suppression/pinning etc. work and what (roughly) the amount of fire should be to cause these various states.

I'm busy experimenting with the rules I use (for all periods) to take some of the things into account.

Regards

UshCha30 Jun 2013 8:20 a.m. PST

In our game the fire on a unit is element by element so a platoon will be several elements. A single element ceases to function effectively when suppressed. When all elements are suppressed then the platoon de-facto ceases to fuction. In reality it can be a cascde failure. In a fire fight of equal units on average both units will have some elements suppressed. If the fight is unequal then the loseing side will fail to get as meny suppressed on the winner ashe has and hence the winner will get more suppressions on the loser and so it cascades reatively quickly to a fully supressed unit unless the loser gets more firepower or more wisely, they pull back. As grounded troops are less vulnerable too much opposing firepower and the umit starts first to stop moving forward, then is things are reall bad they lose effeciveness even grounded. It appears to get the required oveall effect with the minimum of rules.

vojvoda30 Jun 2013 8:51 a.m. PST

Yes modern mostly. Here is the simple answer.

Pinned: Unable to effectively maneuver.

Suppressed: Unable to bring effective fire.

I firmly believe that those who write anything different in wargame rules I suspect have never been pinned down or under suppressive fire.

It is very much like the difference between cover and concealment that many just do not understand.

VR
James Mattes

Lion in the Stars30 Jun 2013 9:47 a.m. PST

Epic:Armageddon uses 'blast markers' (really an indication of how many hits and kills the unit has taken), and then BMs modify how hard it is to get that unit to do anything. Once a unit takes a number of blast markers equal to the number of elements in the unit, it breaks and will fall back. Then you need to rally the unit.

Skarper30 Jun 2013 11:12 a.m. PST

I had always considered PINNED/SUPPRESSED as the same basic idea but am struck by VOJVODA's comment (and have indeed never been under fire).

I suppose there is an interaction between the weight/proximity of fire and the morale and training etc of a unit.

It seems PINNED/SUPPRESSED are the same idea but SUPPRESSED is more so. Both could be recovered from easier than any state of BROKEN. The individuals are not running away or giving up but are (temporarily) unable to move/fire. They may not have suffered any losses or even much disorganisation everyone heads down behind a wall for example.

Some rules have recovery from PINNED/SUPPRESSED as automatic at the end of the turn but I think it's not the right idea. PINNED could last for hours if the threat is still assumed to be there (a single sniper shot could PIN DOWN a platoon indefinitely).

SUPPRESSED I think does ware off when the fire stops (though not necessarily when it subsides since there is the tactic of 'rapid fire' to win the firefight and then deliberate fire to keep the enemy suppressed.)

In my rules I've got PINNED as my most likely combat result [other than no effect for very weak attacks]. If enemy fire at a unit it will almost always end up PINNED UNDER FIRE.

I have PINNED UNDER FIRE which I guess equates more or less to SUPPRESSED. Such units find it very hard to fire unless enemy are extremely close, or they are very well-led.

This reduces automatically to PINNED [not under fire] when the firing dies down and it is still a bit harder to move/fire.

I don't like absolute results so it is possible to recover from PINNED UNDER FIRE and open fire or move but unlikely. PINNED not under fire reduces your chance of firing/moving by 30-60% depending on how experienced/well-led the unit is.

I have recently added a rule that if a unit becomes PINNED UNDER FIRE then any friends within 25m become PINNED NOT UNDER FIRE (unless in a worse state already of course)

I am very interested in these effects and was considering starting a thread on MORALE to include them.

I had recently been thinking about the often cited notion than GREEN or FRESH units do not get PINNED down so easily.

I do think they get SUPPRESSED just as easily if not more easily and find it harder to recover. Also I think the first time they take losses because they weren't PINNED sooner will remove this special trait.

Milites30 Jun 2013 12:22 p.m. PST

Does that mean both terms are inclusive or exclusive and dependant on the terrain, cover available, loss tolerances and crucially morale/leadership of the unit under fire?

The second Gen WRG rules make it impossible to KO a stationary unit, beyond 100m, unless using a grenade launcher. First suppression (automatic when a hit rolled) caused reductions in movement and a firing penalty, second hit caused a neutralisation, no movement, no firing. Challenger II had suppression, temporary disruption (heavier penalties, longer recovery time) permanent disruption (no recovery) and the very rare elimination? Trouble was none of the above systems were linked to the morale of the targeted unit, unless you count a bonus to hit poor units.

I was always struck by the friendly fire incident outside Basra, during operation Telic. Two UK platoons only realised that it was a blue on blue when neither platoon could pin or suppress each other after nearly half an hour of firing.

UshCha30 Jun 2013 12:36 p.m. PST

Vojvoda,
WQe may be talking sematics here. Suppressed meaning unable to return fire effectively. I assume this means that somhow the suppressed element has addopted a posture whic minimises his proability of getting hit. If shooting is a maneouver then he is not able to do it so no abble to maneover effectively spans both pinned and suppressed. If in being suyppressed he is out of sight and or protected then he may have options to maneouver in a resticted way. Perhaps moving either to another position to one side or back. Would you class this as effective maneouver?

Alternatively are you implying by being pinned that you are unable to move in any way, but may not be suppressed and hence can return fire?

Skarper30 Jun 2013 12:37 p.m. PST

Somehow it has to tie in with terrain/morale/experience/training/motivation etc.

In my own system it is harder to place effective fire on a target it it has good cover. [It is harder to spot them and fire on them at all if they have good concealment].

It is not really easier to PIN a target due to their quaility, but better units recover faster (again still talking about my own system).

It should be hard to eliminate a unit taking cover at longer ranges but not impossible. This comes from the assumption that eliminated units are not all casualties but often men 'hors de combat' in other ways.

Besides, grenade launchers (rifle grenades) were usually available at squad level in WW2 and nowadays there is the more deadly 30-40mm underslung grenade launcher so I think it's possible to cause casualties to units even crouched in the bottom of a foxhole and completely out of LOS. But it should be rather difficult.

EDITED

Another issue when reading about units being 'PINNED DOWN' is that often it is a choice the unit or it's commanders have made to stay low and not risk casualties while someone comes up with a solution to the problem. So it is not always a combat result directly and could perhaps be better covered by a command and control result or just good scenario design.

I don't think British and US units in the ETO had the option to trade losses for a rapid advance and so got pinned down in situations the Soviets might have just pushed through.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2)30 Jun 2013 1:02 p.m. PST

I think one of the problems with representing pinned/suppressed in wargames is actually to do with the fact that wargames (in general) make aimed fire far too effective in killing the enemy. Because rules allow me to happily chop down the enemy with aimed fire even when they are in cover, the real-world incentives don't apply.

A realistic wargame would make inflicting casualties on troops in cover well-nigh impossible, and would introduce pinned/suppressed as the main effect achieved against such targets. Then you have the incentive to use "first win the firefight, then assault".

donlowry30 Jun 2013 1:32 p.m. PST

I agree with most of the posters above that suppressed in worse than pinned, the opposite of what the original poster seemed to assume. In my rules, pinned means 1. can't move, and 2. fires at half effect. Whereas suppressed means can neither move nor fire. (can only take the best cover available and wait for the enemy fire to slacken) Recovering from either requires a morale check, and any casualties reduce the morale of the testing unit.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2013 3:36 p.m. PST

We are discussing Napoleonic battle here, right? I don't find a corrolation between the conditions for "pin/suppressed" and the resultant behaviors and conditions and the in Leo Murray's book, modern warfare [or 1870 battle] and Napoleonic war and combat to 1866. As good as it is, it applies far more to wars where artillery and infantry fire reached a critical volume except for those rare events like Fredericksburg or Cold Harbor in the ACW.

Maneuvering and fighting upright, shoulder-to-shoulder is far different from modern armies maneuvering and fighting for a wide variety of reasons.

Dragon Gunner30 Jun 2013 7:48 p.m. PST

Pinned= If I move I am dead but I am fairly safe right where I am at and can return fire.

Suppressed= OMG there is no way in hell I am sticking my head up or moving.

Ark3nubis30 Jun 2013 8:16 p.m. PST

Guys, thanks for all the feedback and comments.

It seems from reading the posts that Pinned is as mentioned, units hit with fire have just stopped (whether due to a moment of self preservation kicking in or until they decide how best to eliminate or overcome being pinned)

Suppression seems to be more about the morale and cohesion of a unit being beaten down to the point where the unit is all but ineffective, and potentially even destroyed. That clears it up to be honest. Suppressed always sounded less 'bad' than pinned to me but that was without understanding how the military might/do refer to such things.

Of course the terms suppression/pinned are relatively modern phrases, so are machine guns and the likes of modern artillery and snipers that have caused the changes in battle strategy and tactics that were otherwise unchanged for time eternal (basically line up your troops in the open, intimidate the enemy and charge forward…)

I mentioned Black Powder in the above list as it had the game mechanics for shock and unit's being disorganised. I hoped that there might be some mileage in understanding the mechanic a bit more or relating it to games of more modern warefare on how to represent the effects of taking fire from the enemy. I understand that it is a Napoleonic game and typically not appropriate to a modern combat context.

UshCha, yes there is a bit of semantics in this as applying the terms Pinned and Suppressed to a target have quite a specific meaning militarily speaking. Either way if it is referred to as X or as Y it is more the mechanics of it and how to represent it in a satisfactory way on the tabletop that I am really interested to know about from you all.

I think Vojvoda is saying that pinned is about pouring on enough fire to make the enemy not want to move without getting hit. Their morale generally is fine, and unit cohesion may well be fine too. I'm thinking of experienced troops being fired at by a sniper and trying to not take casualties until the treat is eliminated.

His line however about a unit being suppressed means they can't return effective fire, well that seems to imply a more dire situation whereby the target can't fire as they are beaten down (in terms of morale say) to the point of ineffective. As a result, they also cannot manoeuvre as well as not fire back and would therefore count as pinned too.

I really like the suggestion above regarding adjacent units. If your friendly unit next to you is taking huge volumes of fire and are pinned in place, that would likely make you want to get your head down to, only less so as you are not taking fire directly yourself. This throws up the idea that units could be pinned duwn even due to the threat of being shot at, and would imply that better troops would use their experience to know when not to step out of cover, more so than green. This would suggest that veteran/experienced trropa are as likely as raw/green u its to be pinned depending on morale, terrain, expectation to win the fight and could (as suggested) be brought into the realms of the scenario etc. It would suggest that your units on the table could have two stats; one for their morale level and one for their fighting/training experience level ( as the two are not linked)

My feeling then is that rules should have;
A) the ability to mark hits on a unit (pins) that wlll reduce their ability to move and their ability to return fire as effectively as normal. These can be removed with standard Command/Leadership/whatever type tests reflecting their training to overcome being pinned.
B) once a unit has received X amount of pins however, their morale will start to be tested. They will have to then make a morale test to overcome the pinning effects.

Having taken casualties, proximity of friendly units and proximity of enemy units i expect would be the biggest factors to consider when rolling these tests, in addition to the target unit's morale and training. Failure of these tests would mean that the unit has reached 'Suppressed' status I expect.

I still like the idea of a target unit that has been beaten down by your gunfire and arty, being almost hidden and ineffective with a roll on a table once their position is assaulted to see if they are still there or not, and in what state. All other suggestions and input gratefully received one and all.

Cheers guys, great stuff, Ark3n

Ark3nubis30 Jun 2013 8:19 p.m. PST

Thanks dragon gunner. Seems we said the same thing (only you put it far more eloquently than I good sir…

Lion in the Stars30 Jun 2013 9:24 p.m. PST

Based on Vojvoda and Dragon Gunner's definitions (I've never been shot at, happily), I have one important question for those that have BTDT: how quickly do troops recover from the suppression?

Is it a case of "they're not shooting at us anymore, let's get a move on"?

Or does it take some time to convince troopers to get a move on?

I'm thinking of that mechanic from Flames for the 7th AD in Normandy, where they had a re-roll to get moving after being pinned if they hadn't been shot at that turn.

Martin Rapier01 Jul 2013 3:50 a.m. PST

"His line however about a unit being suppressed means they can't return effective fire, well that seems to imply a more dire situation whereby the target can't fire as they are beaten down (in terms of morale say) to the point of ineffective."

Suppression is less of a morale failure, it is simply a response to weight of fire. If the fire stops, then the units being unsuppressed because no-one is firing at them any more…

It doesn't take a lot of fire to keep a suppressed unit suppressed though. So, you:

i) pile on the fire to win the firefight
ii) someone keeps firing to keep them suppressed
iii) the assault group closes in and finishes them off

this is very easily modelled by big penalties for trying to become unsuppressed under fire – Squad Leaders 'desperation morale' if you will. A good reason to pull back out of the line of fire if you can, and an equally good reason for attackers to cut off the line of retreat by fire.

Ned Ludd01 Jul 2013 4:21 a.m. PST

Having had the good fortune to never have been under fire. When I was writing some rules for early 20th C games I read about it but also remembered what my grandfather told me about it when serving as an infantry soldier. He said that when they came under unexpected fire from smallarms the first thing every one did was hit the ground and get as far into it as possible with a sense of fear. Then training took over and no matter how much fire was coming in they would be tryng to establish where it was coming from and how far away it was coming from so they could return it, once returning fire confidence returned. I used this as a guide in my rules with better trained troops been harder to suppress but not pin. This was the WW2 British army way of doing it but i recon its a good guide and not much has changed. He also said the worst thing for him personaly which he found most frightening was coming under mortar attack.

Mobius01 Jul 2013 5:02 a.m. PST

Per WO 291/471 Weight of small-arms fire needed for various targets


Two levels of neutralisation are recognised.
"Light neutralisation" is defined as the minimum weight of fire to appreciably effect the accuracy of
enemy fire. The enemy will suffer casualties at a rate of 2% per minute, or one man per platoon per
minute, if they stay in a firing position for more than a third of the time they are fired on.

"Heavy neutralisation" is defined as the weight of fire needed effectively to stop any retaliatory
measures on the part of the enemy, with a casualty rate of 10% per minute, or one man per section per
minute.

It is estimated that a bullet passing within 3 yards sounded near enough to be dangerous.

You could say pinned is light neutralization and suppressed is like heavy neutralization. Or, vis versa.

Adam name not long enough01 Jul 2013 6:24 a.m. PST

You usually attempt to SUPRESS a static firing point so it cannot fire and PIN moving troops in place. These are not to be confused with NEUTRALISE and FIX – although they often are.

I could be PINNED because moving out of my fire position will mean I get shot, but not be SUPRESSED. I could be SUPPRESSED because the enemy is smashing my fire position and I can still move from it to another or to get out of there.

As to Lion's question – I've seen every answer from 'when they stop being a target', to 'when they get Bleeped texted off enough to do something about it'. Usually it is more 'when there are no more rounds firing anywhere near' (how well can most troops tell if rounds are near or not???) or 'until an officer or NCO moves to their position and tells them to move/fire' (rank has its price). There have been no times when I have seen small arms have a longer term morale effect (not talking longer term psychological effect, that is something very different).

As an aside, the removal of manually operated gallery ranges means that less and less regular soldiers have actually experienced the sounds of rounds passing overhead from various distances in a benign environment.

Skarper01 Jul 2013 6:24 a.m. PST

Squad Leader despite explicitly trying to model suppression made an almighty mess of it all.

Broken in SL and ASL is really too severe to be SUPPRESSED like we are talking about here. They have PINNED in ASL (and I think from GI AOV in the old SL system) but it is much more likely a unit will BREAK than be PINNED.

BROKEN units cannot do anything at all as the enemy literally run rings around them. The only thing they can do is stop enemy entering their location during movement.

I cut my teeth on SL/ASL but frankly it doesn't cut the mustard as any kind of simulation. Fair enough it's just a game with a WW2 flavour. Somewhat like Flames of War is.

My own system has it's beginnings in various attempts to fix ASL so I could use VASL but quite quickly I just went my own way and learned to build VASSAL modules actually a very simple process.

Adam name not long enough01 Jul 2013 6:27 a.m. PST

As a second aside – Afghans (ours and the Talibans) are actually quite hard to supress. Their approach to bullets missing them is 'Insh Allah' – if He wills them to get hit it will make no difference, if He wills them to survive…

Watching some of the ANSF SOF operate makes you completely re-assess the value of supression!

badger2201 Jul 2013 7:11 a.m. PST

Adam name not long enough, just working on a known distance range will certailny Pin you! I dont think any of us doing it did not believe a round was going to bounce off of something and get one of us. I dont remember of ever hearing of it happening, but when the bullets go by your mind just does not care how many times it was OK, it is worried about it not being OK RIGHT NOW.

probably it was good training, but I was very happy when I PCSed to a post that did not have KD ranges.

I would like to add that being a Pit NCO o a grenade range will amplify any and all religeous leanings you may have had. A good deal of my tenitous is from a kid that tossed his grenade at least three feet. Thankflly it rolled to the bottum of the berm, but was still not very far away when it went off. That was probably good training as well, although more in the nature of do not beat the soldier with his own helmet.

Owen, a life tiem member of the CHS club and not at all proud of it.

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 8:03 a.m. PST

I have never been under fire like Vojvoda so I am not an expert by any means. I have seen it modeled quite well in training when you use MILES (laser tag) and give the troops some incentive to stay alive, eliminates John Wayne antics. (i.e. Those that are killed will get this crap detail or crap watches).


Martin has it spot on! Fire has to be CONTINUOUS even if it is light. The OMG factor has to be maintained and not allow the suppressed target to believe he is safe for even a moment. A break in fire to reload magazines or another belt is often all is needed to lose suppression of a target. The target begins to think…

1. They are out of ammunition and reloading now is my chance.

2. They are shooting at someone else now is my chance.

3. The shooters have moved away now is my chance.

The goal is to NEVER let the target have these thoughts! The NCO becomes critical for controlling rates of fire to make sure at least one member of his fire team is always firing on the target.

John D Salt01 Jul 2013 8:09 a.m. PST

I've come across a bunch of different ways of classifying different levels of suppression, of which I provide a sketch here.

Current NATO doctrinal terms are I believe "suppression", which renders the enemy temporarily incapable of doing anything offensive, and "neutralisation", which is suppression which lasts after the fire causing it has ceased. I believe that these are influenced by Canadian gunner terms, which were in turn quite possibly influenced by the WRG rules…

"Suppression" was I think originally a US Army term; I don't know when it was first used, or when the UK adopted it, but throughout WW2 and certainly until at least the 1970s "neutralisation" was used to mean the same thing.

I'm not aware of anyone ever having had a doctrinal meaning for "pinning", and I don't believe it was ever current as an effect verb, but it had been in common usage for a long time.

The Soviets have a nice clear definition of what they consider "neutralisation" to mean for their artillery norms, and it means a weight of fire sufficient to cause 25% casualties -- what a lot of armies would consider "annihilation".

It has never been altogether clear to me whether fire or movement are inhibited first by incoming fire, although it seems to me common sense to stop moving and return fire as your immediate action when coming under effective fire. Nonetheless, the German WW2 doctrinal terms make it clear that they have an order in mind, and it is movement that is inhibited first. The first stage of winning the firefight is "Niederhalten", halting the enemy and fixing them in place. The next stage is "Blinden", blinding, preventing them from observing and shooting effectively. Finally comes "Niederkampfen", beating-down, which will be accomplished not only by fire but also by close-quarter battle with grenades and blanke Waffen (or armes blanches, as we say in English).

As to the way these are modelled in wargames -- and I must say that I agree with the people who have indicated that it is inapplicable to periods before the cordite era -- I think you have the basic choice of looking at suppression as either a weapons effect or a morale result. The WRG have in their time done both -- in the Armour and Infantry rules it was always a weapons effect (with the distinction between suppression and neutralisation introduced in the second edition modern rules), and in the Infantry Action rules it was only the reaction test that stopped people shooting (as it could in the first edition WW2 and modern Armour and Infantry rules).

Official computer wargames I am familiar with treat it as a weapons effect, with a hit on an imaginary box around a man adding a dose of suppression to him, from which he recovers using a "leaky bucket" process. It is possible to find a variety of likely suppression distances from about three official sources in the public domain, all of which disagree. On the question of how long suppression should last, I have found it impossible to find any really useful information, but my impression, from a simple computer simulation of my own devising, is that it must be quite a long time if infantry sections are ever going to manoeuvre close enough to each other for decisive action before they run out of ammunition.

If I can echo Whirlwind's recommendation echoing my recommendation, "Bullets and brains" is well worth reading on this topic. The reference to the "Mexican wave" effect of Paras taking cover when a few rounds of 7.62mm waft by makes me think that a really satisfactory model of the phenomenon must include the social tendency to do what the people around you are doing -- I suspect that a lot of people who refused to put their heads down under fire did so because they could see, out of the corner of their eye, their section leader refusing to put his head down.

I have never been shot at with live ball myself, but when I was introduced to the concept of fire and movement many years ago by a Corporal in the TA, I asked him what would happen if we shot at the enemy and they, having not read the same script as us, refused to put their heads down. "In that case", he said, "They're braver than you, and you're going to lose."

Badger22 wrote:


Owen, a life tiem member of the CHS club and not at all proud of it.

And what's wrong with the Centre for Human Sciences? They used to do fine work until all their labs were converted into offices.

All the best,

John.

Martin Rapier01 Jul 2013 8:25 a.m. PST

One thing I meant to add earlier was that it is possible to suppress/neutralise targets for fairly long periods of time with the application of big doses of artillery fire. When the fire lifts, the targets do not instantly become un-neutralised, which is handy if you are trying to assault them.

One of Johns compendiums of weapons effectiveness includes some indications of how much artillery fire, but it is hours of fire, not minutes. Many, many hours of artillery fire can be sufficient to neutralise targets to such an extent that they simply give up when overrun. Someone still has to overrun them though.

I rather like the Soviet definition of 'neutralise', somewhat different to the western one I think.

To add to the numerous disclaimers above, no-one has ever shot at me with real bullets (although an over-zealous farmer got a bit close once, as did the odd thing which goes bang) I only read about this stuff or play at it.

Things which go bang are quite suppressive, even simulated ones, unplanned ones are more so.

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 9:07 a.m. PST

"On the question of how long suppression should last"- John Salt

I was taught it could be gone as soon as there is a break in fire. Some men might be permanently suppressed for the duration.

"it must be quite a long time if infantry sections are ever going to manoeuvre close enough to each other for decisive action before they run out of ammunition"- John Salt

Good NCOs and well trained troops can over come that by controlling rates of fire. However there is a time element involved, no one can fire forever. My officers used to train us with a stop watch in hand and expected assaults to be completed in minutes. This was to avoid running out of ammunition or allowing the OPFOR time to respond to the tactical situation ( i.e. reinforcements, artillery and airstrikes).

donlowry01 Jul 2013 9:31 a.m. PST

I think most of us are talking about WW1 and later, not Napoleonics, etc.

I think Martin is correct that once a unit is pinned or suppressed it takes less fire to keep it that way, but the question is: how much is enough? Half what it took to win the fire firght? 10%?

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 9:55 a.m. PST

"I think Martin is correct that once a unit is pinned or suppressed it takes less fire to keep it that way, but the question is: how much is enough? Half what it took to win the fire firght? 10%?"- Don Lowry

The psychology of it was explained to me like this… "Once they are suppressed its going to take a lot of guts to poke their head up, acquire a target and gain the upper hand over someone (or group) that has weapons pointed directly at their location and firing at them. All we have to do is maintain continuous fire even if it is light do not let them believe…

1. They are out of ammunition and reloading now is my chance.

2. They are shooting at someone else now is my chance.

3. The shooters have moved away now is my chance.

Even a small amount of fire can maintain your suppression once you gain the upper hand."

Aldroud01 Jul 2013 10:06 a.m. PST

The US Army Research Institute published a technical report titled A Further Look at the Prediction of Weapons Effectiveness in Supprssive Fire in 1979.

The TL/DR of their findings are:

Big bad noise is more effective than little bad noice. Visual and auditory signatures of weapons seem to have an effect on suppression.

Suppression is an all or nothing effect and Soldiers transition between these states constantly. Bullet flies nearby, Soldier hugs earth. Bullet passes without a buddy following, Soldier is up and looking/scanning/moving.

Suppression was defined as "…the causing of human reactions that reduce individual (unit) efficiency to fire, observe, and move".

Probability of suppressin is influenced by proximity of fire. A formula can be worked out to adequately predict the suppressive qualities of a weapon based up the radius of miss distance (RMD).
RMD=Ae^B P(S)
where RMD=miss distance in meters, P(s) is the probability of suppression, and A and B are constants associated with specific weapon types. When graphed, there's a logarithmic relationship between how close a round lands and whether a Soldier feels the need to duck and cover.

*submitted without qualifications* I'm just a dude on the computer.

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 10:15 a.m. PST

"When graphed, there's a logarithmic relationship between how close a round lands and whether a Soldier feels the need to duck and cover"- Aldroud

For the fire to be effective the target should see or hear impacts all around him. Getting covered in dirt or debris from near misses will maintain a sense of fear. The sonic crack of bullets passing close by also helps. Its not enough to just make some noise by firing your weapon.

Milites01 Jul 2013 10:22 a.m. PST

There was a link to the effectiveness and duration of suppression, posted on TMP sometime ago. I cannot find it, shame it addressed all these issues.

I stopped playing Modern miniature games some time ago, but both Challenger and WRG had, as morale results, suppression and neutralisation. Hit a section really hard, in view of the other sections, and the platoon could end up suppressed, after taking a formation morale test, if the platoon HQ failed this badly the company would to take a morale check.

Combat Commander had the simple rule that if engaged by small arms the unit could only move if a special roll was made. This looked at a units casualties, over its original strength and the units tactical competency and aggression. You soon learned that MG's in particular were mainly fixing weapons, stopping the assaults of even hard charging Marines, in their tracks. You also realised that trying to evict troops, in cover, with small arms fire was marginally more effective than waiting for them to die of old age. The only way to gain territory, was to consult the close assault table which was very bloody for the loser, though casualties also represented prisoners.

John D Salt01 Jul 2013 10:44 a.m. PST

donlowry wrote:


I think Martin is correct that once a unit is pinned or suppressed it takes less fire to keep it that way, but the question is: how much is enough? Half what it took to win the fire firght? 10%?

The British Army agrees with you, and as its "deliberate" rate of fire is a quarter as fast as its "rapid" rate, I'd guess that 25% would be a good figure. If an infantry section carrying enough ammunition for five or six minutes' rapid fire can win the firefight in a minute or two, it will have sufficient ammunition to spend ten to twenty minutes manoeuvring into the assault.

Milites wrote:


There was a link to the effectiveness and duration of suppression, posted on TMP sometime ago. I cannot find it, shame it addressed all these issues.

I'm going to guess that it was one or other of Kubala & Warnick, Kushnick & Duffy, or Darrell Jaya-Ratnam. Because there isn't much else.

All the best,

John.

Skarper01 Jul 2013 10:57 a.m. PST

Do any rules distinguish between RAPID and DELIBERATE rates of fire for infantry?

It would be hard to do so without ammunition depletion rules because players would just use RAPID FIRE all the time.

I'm just working on the assumption that the individual sections are 'doing the right thing' to the best of their understanding and I get out the results from my fire tables accordingly. It doesn't really matter if they fire too rapidly except ammo will run low and perhaps be the reason why a bad dice roll fails to maintain suppression?

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 11:10 a.m. PST

"it will have sufficient ammunition to spend ten to twenty minutes manoeuvring into the assault."- John Salt

If we took longer than five we got our butts chewed!

John D Salt01 Jul 2013 11:20 a.m. PST

Dragon Gunner wrote:


If we took longer than five we got our butts chewed!

Probably the instructors would like you to have enough ammunition left to fight off the inevitable enemy counter-attack.

Still, five minutes is only enough to cover 125 yards at the WW2 Canadian advance rate that John English considered too fast to give much time for fire and movement.

All the best,

John.

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 1:34 p.m. PST

"Probably the instructors would like you to have enough ammunition left to fight off the inevitable enemy counter-attack."- John Salt

You hit it on the head.

Bombshell Games Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jul 2013 1:36 p.m. PST

So what's your favourite method or representation of pinning/ suppression, and how could/should it be shown in a game?

The Battlefield
1. Attacking unit performs suppression fire.
2. A friendly unit within 6 inches of the attacking unit, or within 6 inches of the target unit, may make a 'free' bound maneuver.
3. If suppression fire is successful, then you place a number of suppression tokens on the target unit equal to the margin of success.
4. A suppressed unit must pay an additional cost [in action points] equal to the number of tokens on it in order to 'clear the suppression' an perform any actions.
5. A unit engaging a suppressed unit in CQ gains additional attack dice equal to the number of suppression tokens on the unit.

The mechanic models fire for the express purpose of suppression, bound maneuvers, and benefits of moving to engage in CQ.

Adam name not long enough01 Jul 2013 1:57 p.m. PST

I've seen several games that use a combination of action points and command intervention to model recovery from suppression. I feel it gives the balance between self recovery (bravery?) and directed recovery (leadership?) that you see in contact. Where the pin/suppression factors are placed repeatedly (fire maintained) a unit can be suppressed to allow manoeuvre.

In a set of rules I used a long time ago (home grown) and odd effect took place. In the initial contact individuals would drop in nod out of suppression and it took almost everyone firing to gain the upper hand. Once you reached a point where the enemy were suppressed you needed less than half your men to keep it that way. This varied slightly on quality, but was still apparent.

@Aldroud, I have no way of remembering that formula in a contact, doubt we'd get the A, B or Zp right and fail to understand the cultural context. RPGs are much better at suppressing Afghans than Brits, machine guns are better at suppressing Brits than Afghans. There has been quite a shift in the number of PKMs we face as they have learnt this…we use air and aviation!

@ Dragon Gunner, I remember the days of section attacks and maintaining tempo. More often than not any attack is a come on, with supporting positions or IAeDs waiting for you to move forward. We often 'pin' ourselves so that we can take the enemy on at a time and place of our choosing. Obviously, this self pinning comes with a hand-off to ISR or another call sign with over watch.

Dragon Gunner01 Jul 2013 2:37 p.m. PST

@ Adam

I think there is a difference between fighting the Taliban and a 1st class opponent with a combined arms force. If your opponent cannot bring artillery or air power to bear or effective counter measures then play your strong card and use your own air or artillery. Time is on your side when fighting insurgents and if you don't kill them today there is always tomorrow. If your opponent can field a conventional combined arms force the longer you loiter in front of the enemy the worse it will get that is why "maintaining tempo" was stressed.

Lion in the Stars01 Jul 2013 2:43 p.m. PST

I've seen several games that use a combination of action points and command intervention to model recovery from suppression. I feel it gives the balance between self recovery (bravery?) and directed recovery (leadership?) that you see in contact. Where the pin/suppression factors are placed repeatedly (fire maintained) a unit can be suppressed to allow manoeuvre.
I like that combination.

Sadly, the faked suppression can't really be done except in a double-blind wargame, since both players would know you're faking it.

le Grande Quartier General01 Jul 2013 4:37 p.m. PST

>Suppression is an all or nothing effect and Soldiers transition between these states constantly. Bullet flies nearby, Soldier hugs earth. Bullet passes without a buddy following, Soldier is up and looking/scanning/moving.

Suppression was defined as "…the causing of human reactions that reduce individual (unit) efficiency to fire, observe, and move".

Probability of suppressin is influenced by proximity of fire. A formula can be worked out to adequately predict the suppressive qualities of a weapon based up the radius of miss distance (RMD).
RMD=Ae^B P(S)
where RMD=miss distance in meters, P(s) is the probability of suppression, and A and B are constants associated with specific weapon types. When graphed, there's a logarithmic relationship between how close a round lands and whether a Soldier feels the need to duck and cover.

*submitted without qualifications* I'm just a dude on the computer.<

You have described a psycophysiological event with a formula- quite well.

Steve Wilcox01 Jul 2013 5:05 p.m. PST

I was just briefly in the reserves, but I remember the FN rounds sounded like angry hornets as they passed overhead!

Henry Martini01 Jul 2013 9:30 p.m. PST

While pinning is generally regarded as an effect appropriate to games set in the 20th century onwards, I think skirmish games are an exception, and it does occur in Chris Peers' 'A Good Day to Die' 19th century skirmish rules; mostly, I think, because AGDTD is an outgrowth of his Close Quarters modern rules. Although the definition is modified in line with the period, the game effect is still a proscription on movement and firing.

The title of this thread is ambiguous, and could just as easily refer to the on-table denotation of the effect. For instance, in the context of the Australian frontier, an authentic option is to use a base with one or more spears stuck in it (the system permits multiple pins). There are accounts of historical fights in which settlers were literally pinned to the ground by a spear through the clothing, or to their saddles if mounted. It's entirely reasonable to prohibit them from moving or firing until unpinned; even if mounted they would have been too busy trying to withdraw the cumbersome spear to move or fire. This type of marker might work equally well for other colonial settings.

Martin Rapier02 Jul 2013 3:32 a.m. PST

"Do any rules distinguish between RAPID and DELIBERATE rates of fire for infantry?"

Any rules which model ammo depletion encourage some consideration of volumes of fire (be they rates of fire for individual elements or simply the number of elements which fire). Some approaches are more abstract than others.

I played some homegrown Vietnam rules where you just stated how much firing you wanted to do, more firing meant more dice (there were some overall limits by weapon type), but more dice meant lots more ammo burned.

My WW1 rules 'Ten Rounds Rapid' give the player the explicit option of conducting rapid fire. More shooting increases the chance of bad things happening (like running low on ammo or the chaps getting shot as they are more exposed), but when faced with 200 angry Germans a hundred yards away what else can you do?

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