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"Representing suppression and pinning in games" Topic


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18,630 hits since 30 Jun 2013
©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
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Skarper11 Jul 2013 10:16 a.m. PST

I have a system for ammo tracking whereby when a 6 pops up on the red die roll of a 2d6 DR you mark off one XX of the ammo fired.

A 2" mortar has an ammo counter with 2XX6 HE and 3XX6 for Smoke. Typically they can fire 12 HE and 18 smoke rounds. Sometimes rather more and always at least 2 and 3.

A StuGIIIG has 4XX6 HE and 4XX6 AP with 1XX5 smoke.

In VASSAL I can manage all this with a few mouse clicks and the computer never forgets. Clutter is also minimal.

On a tabletop you could have physical ammo boxes or tubes on the figures base and remove/replace as they get used.

This way it takes a few bad DRs to run out of ammo so as a player you get a warning and perhaps a chance to react to it.

If there were only a few AFVs you could have an off map chart (perhaps on a computer or iPad for larger games) to keep a track on all this data – providing it might actually matter.

I used to do this for Vietnam skirmish games for every figure and it was fun as the umpire watching the players marking off magazine after magazine of M16 ammo and worrying how much of it their men were actually carrying.

Lion in the Stars11 Jul 2013 11:36 a.m. PST

I used to do this for Vietnam skirmish games for every figure and it was fun as the umpire watching the players marking off magazine after magazine of M16 ammo and worrying how much of it their men were actually carrying.
I remember reading in a book about the LRRPs, how one team was yelling for evac and not getting it until their commander personally commandeered a helo to get them.

Standing there in the Big Man's office, the LRRP commander had his team inventory their ammo. The 6 men had 18 rounds left, total.

After that, the LRRPs were evac'd when they called for it!

==========
But I really don't want to track ammo if I can avoid it. That's why I prefer rules like the ones from Force on Force: Roll Troop Quality every time you use the special ammo. If you fail, that was the last round.

UshCha11 Jul 2013 11:14 p.m. PST

Ark3Nubis,
The flow froim pinned to ammo is not a weird and unconnected as you may think. In MG troops have "Leadership" which deteriorates inevitably as a element is engaged. Wh call it fear, fire(ammo is part of this) and fatigue. As an elements degrade their performance reduces. In most cases they just become spent, They may even remain on the battlefield but are of no practical use in a stand alone game. In an urban enviroment as an example would be looking to use diffrent squads to assult houses, certainly after takeing 2 houses as close assult takes its toll on men and materiel quickly.

In longer games, given 16 hours to re-arm rest and replace as neccessary theay can be back. As a back stop (an approximation, again for bigger battles) most units cannot remain in active combat for more than about 6 hrs (36 bounds) before they are traveling (36 bounds) home out of stores. While a long time, in a campaign this is a critical issue.

All this points to the interelatedness of the mechanism of the model for all aspects of the thing you are modeling.

Ark3nubis16 Jul 2013 5:56 a.m. PST

@ Skarper,

I really like the sound of your rules. Can you elaborate on the 2XX6, 3XX6 etc. Does that mean each time you fire with a 2XX6 unit you roll 2D6, and a 3XX6 you roll 3D6. Any 6's and you strike off a box/X? I like the idea of maybe modelling some wire or pins as you suggest to hold ammo markers to be removed when it happens.

@ UshCha. I understand your connection between the two. Wouldn't the likes of ammo levels merley be represented as a dice roll modifier or something? So a unit with Command level of say 8 on normal would roll 2D6 needing 8 or less to pass. If they were low ammo they would be at -1 to their pinning tests, and if on 'out of ammo' they would have maybe a -3 or something hefty?

Overall I think I would prefer a two stage ammo depletion set of rules. All units I expect would realise they were getting low, but not out, then eventually would be out (down to those meagre 18 rounds mentioned above…)

Im still thinking that the rules I wrote up a while back are still valid. Every hit on a unit causes a suppression/pin. For each hit roll the dice again to see if each hit has actually caused any damage. Remove casualties for those that are successful, and remove a pin/suppression marker for each casualty also (you can't pin a dead man so to speak) Units then roll a CMD test. If failed they are pinned in place. If they pass, each point they passed by removes a suppression/pin marker/point (I use dice) Any left on the unit will;

- Stop one man per point from shooting (so a 6 man squad with 2 pins on would only be able to fire with the remaining 4)
- Each pin would deduct an inch of movement from the unit's move down to 0 (so a unit with 2 pins and a normal 6" move would be restricted down to 4")

The down sides of this system are that you can sometimes have a ton of hits to record (I don't mind this) but it does give a really granular distinction between numbers in opposing unit, the effect of their weapons on each other, and the graduating ability to remove suppression/pinning.

Does this sound like an OK mechanism or not? Any thoughts?

Ammo rates and supply could be included within the above tests in terms of modifiers as I have suggested to you UshCha.

Cheers,

Arken

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2013 8:17 a.m. PST

Ark3,
I think you are on the right track. Most units are supplied by a "Unit of Fire" which is the amount of rounds the unit would most likely expend in one day. Going into an assault they may start with three Units of Fire. You can use as a baseline to account for ammo
link

In prolonged Fire Fights units would be able to get supply runs to replenish ammo to an extent – unless they were cut off or poor planning. During a fire fight it's the responsibility of the Squad Leader to ensure the proper volume of fire and track ammo usage. I don't think a unit can suddenly and unexpectedly run out of ammo without any type of warning which you account for. Having it in levels would be most realistic and may force the player to slow his ROF to conserve. During a lull the Platoon/Squad Leader would do an ammo check and redistribute what's left so everyone has the same amount of ammo. Do you need to factor in causalities? If the unit suffered 50% causalities the remaining guys would effectively have their ammo supply doubled. Realistically getting into extended fire fights at long range where both sides have good cover is a waste of ammo but if games simulated that it would be pretty boring.

I like the idea of "incremental suppression" effecting a units ability to fire and move.

In my Pacific War game I track small arms ammo in 125 round increments/unit of fire. An ammo can of 500 rounds would would have four units of fire. So one guy going on an ammo run (if successful) can come back with 2-3 ammo cans totaling 1,000-1,500 rounds. A small arms exchange is a few minutes in time and a Rifle Squad can fire up to 250 rounds, a tripod M-1919 LMG 250 rounds and water cooled M-1917 up to 375 rounds (they are great for breaking up Banzai Charges). The number of rounds/units of fire is compared to the enemy. The greater the ratio the more the enemy is suppressed and increasing chance of a causality. I don't track "hits". If the Jap enemy is suppressed the assault team moves out with demo charges and flame throwers but can still become a causality. If the Marines come out on the losing end of an exchange they voluntarily "self suppress" (no die roll) hunkering down to avoid all enemy direct fire (this keeps causalities low) and wait for reinforcements to come up the next turn. Hopefully the Company Commander kept some units back in reserve. There is no sense in exposing yourself to enemy fire when you are on the losing side unless absolutely necessary. Small arms fire effects is mostly suppressive, not causality causing (exception Banzai Charges). Since most combat is under 100m I don't need to worry about range modifiers. Marine assault teams take the most causalities as they are the most exposed. There is no ammo supply for the Japs. They are always supplied (no tracking) but their firepower can be lowered depending on the scenario. These rules work for me and we tweak the supply rules so the Marines never have all that they need and need to use it wisely and not get into prolonged long range fire fights. Suppressing the enemy and not assaulting wastes time and ammo and leaves you open for more counterattacks and mortar barrages.

Wolfhag

Ark3nubis16 Jul 2013 9:23 a.m. PST

Cheers Wolfhag.

With that in mind, a unit losing half their number to small arms fire would likely have access to twice the volume of ammunition. But 50% is a considerable amount to lose, so with that in mind, would they want to crawl over to their dead comrades to loot their bodies, thus likely exposing themselves to more danger (in addition to the fact half their mates have just been killed)

I had been thinking kinda of the ammo tracking system you mention, and runners will indeed bring limited supplies from further back in the line. However I ha been thinking of a more 'basic' system than counting exact expenditure of rounds (as in the 125 rounds increments you have mentioned) and adopt the simpler type system Skarper has suggested/volunteered. With that in mind, I suppose you could easily see each ammo marker as being representative of 125 or whatever rounds so probably doesn't matter. You appear to have very detailed games Wolfhag, is this the case? Do you have a ton of record keeping in your games?

Ark3n

MichaelCollinsHimself16 Jul 2013 10:54 a.m. PST

I have some suppression and pinning rules that I applied to Rapid Fire WW2 rules – if anyone is interested I could find a copy of them and send them on…

I also have a suppression effect; a "silenced battery" in my Napoleonic counter-battery fire rules and these are at:
grandmanoeuvre.co.uk

Mike.

Ark3nubis16 Jul 2013 11:23 a.m. PST

Mike, that would be great. Send to talk2duncan @ hotmail.com, cheers buddy!

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2013 1:50 p.m. PST

Ark3,
I mostly keep all weapons ammo tracking off board on the Company HQ status sheet. The amount of "book keeping" depends on supply level and activity. Rather than a lengthy description I've posted the current WIP counter sheet:
tinyurl.com/m9zl8q8

All of the counters are printed on both sides. The little "icons" represent special abilities or rules and give a good visual reminder to the player. This is for the pre-1944 Marine TOE. A Platoon has leaders include the 1st or 2nd Lt (Platoon Commander), Staff Sgt (Platoon Sgt) and 3x Sergeant Squad Leaders. Each Squad has 2x six man Fire Teams that normally have 5x M1 and 1x BAR. We used traditional "To Hit" with DRM and Cover Save type game originally.

We play with miniatures but I did these counters in MS Paint with an attempt to get as much info on the counters to make it easier to play (looks like too much). I've been tracking the discussions on suppression because I wasn't satisfied with the ones I had. I do have range ratings for heavy weapons but for the most part at the close ranges of combat they don't come in to play.

The numbers 1-5 on the right upper side of the counters is an indicator of what damage it can do to defensive structures with the 1-5 rating. If the box is red it means it can knock or destroy part of a structure at that rating. Demo Charges work best. Green means it can only suppress or kill personnel in a close assault and yellow has double the green effect (flame throwers and grenades work best for killing personnel inside bunkers but only when close assaulting). The factors outlined in red mean that when you use them in direct fire or a close assault the Japs fire at them first so Engineer Teams with flame throwers and demo charges get hit a lot. Rifle Teams or Leaders using demo frags, WP or thermite grenades expose themselves to danger too. The factors outlined in blue (LMG, MMG) mean each time you fire them the Japs call in a knee mortar barrage. So even with unlimited ammo you can fire away all of the time with your automatic weapons. The little bastards are everywhere. Leaders have special abilities to effect the outcome but each time the use them they must pass Sniper Fire. Each time you use an FO to call in mortars, air strikes or naval gunfire he may get hit too. Basically the Japs are very abstracted but get to fire whenever the Marines fire or move. The games does not work without keeping track of ammo but no need to track the Japs ammo.

When an Assault Team is formed (normally one Rifle or Engineer Team and one optional Leader) they are outfitted with the ammo they will carry for the assault that is taken from the Company HQ. If they don't get the desired results and use the ammo up they have to return to their unit and try again. Ammo runs can take supply from the Rgt Depot to the Company HQ or from the Company HQ to the Platoon. These are only designed for WWII Pacific, not tried on anything else.

Wolfhag

Milites16 Jul 2013 4:41 p.m. PST

Surely SOP's play a role? I'm thinking of counter-ambush drills, moving to the closest cover, on contact (even if it means advancing) and MUC, especially CQB drills.

Black Guardian18 Jul 2013 6:26 a.m. PST

Iīve been following this thread since the start, silently reading all the great contributions. The topic is adressing one of my gravest concerns with tactical level gaming, where losses from small arms fire seems to be very exaggerated when compared to reality, whereas the real dynamics of suppression and morale effects are insufficiently simulated.

Thus, I want to step in to steer the discussion towards the other aspect of suppression and firecombat, towards the question of casualties.

However, lets first summarize what has been discussed so far:
-Primary effect of small arms fire is suppression of enemy units, rendering it unable to move ("pinned") and fire effectively ("suppressed")
-Main determinants of suppressive effects are Firepower (volume of fire) and accuracy (and, relating to this, detection of the enemy, as accurate shooting requires knowledge of enemy positions) and for the target units, their available cover.
-Fire has to be continuous to keep a unit pinned/suppressed
-Ammunition thus plays a certain role, as it is a constraint for continous firing.


I hope that summarizes what has been touched in this thread in detail so far.

Now, after the last page or so has focused a lot on ammo consumption & supply, I want to return to the original point that the primary effect should be suppression, not killing. It seems to me that most miniature wargames are instead focused on inflicting casualties and facilitating the destruction of the enemy – not in terms of morale, but physically.

Especially in skirmish games, the main effect of small arms fire is killing enemy units, with pinning often being merely a secondary effect. From the small amount of internet-research that Iīve done, the effects of killng & annihilation of enemy soldiers seem to be grossly overestimated.

Overall casualty rate for American Forces in World War 2, for example, has been estimated to be around 9 KIA per 1000 personell-years (e.g. 1000 soldiers stationed in theatre for one year or 4000 soldiers for a quarter year, etc.).
For a division, assuming a strength of ~15.000 personell, a year in theatre would incur around 120 KIA and rougly twice the number wounded (with lethality from wounds being 30%).

Breaking that down to platoon or squad level would result in a ridiculously low number. Thatīs not even considering that ~50% percent of WW2 casualties are estimated to have been caused by Artillery, with small arms fire usually accounting for less than 25% of all fatalities.

Of course, this calculation is far from accurate and based on very crude assumptions. War is 90% waiting and boredom and 10% combat & sharp terror, so casualties are distributed in clusters during days of intense combat with long lulls in between. The numbers vary with theatre and intensity of combat. The 3rd "Rock of the Marne" Division for instance has suffered more than 900 casualties in a single day at Anzio, according to wikipedia – thatīs almost 20% of the entire casualties taken (both wounded & KIA) during their entire 2-year-deployment in WW2.

Also, overall casualty rates do not take into account that the majority of troops in theatre are support troops, not combat soldiers. With support troops suffering less casualties than frontline troops, the distribution changes again…

Still, casualty numbers from small arms are pretty low, even assuming that frontline troops absorb 90% of the casualties – the one day at anzio would result in 810 casualties for combat troops, 25% of which are caused by small arms fire which would equate to about 200 man – in a divisional action distributed over a day of combat! Out of ~5000 combat troops (with 2/3 of the division assumed to be support personell) – thatīs still only 4%, or about 1 man per Platoon of 30 men in the divisions most bloody day in the entire war. And that is with the assumption of a very high share of gunshot-casualties, whereas the real ratio might be well below that. Of course, this is again an average distorted by aggregation.

So, if the data is even remotely correct, we are looking at a ridiculously low number of small arms casualties in absolute terms for small units.

Indeed, the number is so low that Iīm starting to be mad at how we got a completely wrong impression on the nature of modern combat, instilled by hollywood and ego-shooters…

After all this statistics-stuff, the question remains: What is the appropriate effect for small arms fire in miniature wargames? The numbers seem to be so low that itīs almost pointless to roll for casualties from small arms fire. That would of course severely decrease the fun of the game and is not very practical considering that the outcome could vary drastically, depending on the weapons employed and available fire support.

Second question in this regard is, if casualties are kept realistically small (with the majority caused by shrapnels) and physical destruction thus made almost impossible, how should one side be forced into submission instead? Obviously, as players, we tend to refuse surrender if its not absolutely clear (e.g. by taking so many casualties that our troop strength has been severely reduced) that we will lose the game. Thus, the game needs a mechanism to force players to break contact (like army morale / breaking point does in other games).

Another option is to allow a theoretical, higher casualty rate through the combat mechanism if the player does stupid things (like human wave tactics). This flexibility would probably result in a richer game, but requires a strategic trade-off for players between bringing their troops back intact vs. achieving their other mission objectives. At some point, there has to be a clear point where one player realizes that he cannot win without incurring large casualties and thus abandons the attack / consolidates his lines instead of pushing further. With such a mechanism, large casualties could occur only as a result of player choice, by sending troops "over the top" WW1-style instead of doing proper fire & maneuver. But at least that would properly represent japanese banzai-charges and russian & chinese human waves that were ripped apart by machine gun fire (which counts as small arms).

Any thoughts from your side on this sub-subject of suppression & small arms fire?

Skarper18 Jul 2013 8:04 a.m. PST

My system of ammunition tracking uses a red d6 rolled as part of a FIRE TASK CHECK. Every time a unit tries to fire it must pass this by rolling low enough on 2d6. If the number comes up you have X'd out the weapon. If the weapon has especially limited ammo supply you have also used up a block of ammo. German sMG42s X out on a 5 or 6 and if X'd out and roll another 6 they use up block of 500 rounds. Weapons are repaired/reloaded if your unit rolls a 1-3 on the red d6. [You are never sure when the enemy MG that has stopped firing will suddenly spring back into action.] This means a shot with a sMG42 uses about 40 rounds.

I don't bother to track ammo for Bren guns etc or for AFV MGs unless they had quite limited loads – such as the .50 cal M2HB or the German MG 34/42 used as a pintle MG on StuGs etc.

As far as casualties go I think we have to accept that each actual casualty leads to a larger number of figures removed. I have a ratio of about 2:1 so a unit that is wiped out will still have half its manpower the next day. The LOOB scheme could add another one or two if need be.

But I don't like to see games won by the side with the last figure standing. We are surely way beyond that by now….or maybe not.

Martin Rapier18 Jul 2013 8:05 a.m. PST

"Second question in this regard is, if casualties are kept realistically small (with the majority caused by shrapnels) and physical destruction thus made almost impossible, how should one side be forced into submission instead?"

The same way you do it in real life, suppress the enemy then overrun the position. If the enemy haven't withdrawn first, they will all be killed or captured. If you have failed to suppress the enemy, they will pop up and wipe out your assault group at close range.

Either way, infantry close assault tends to be fairly decisive…

If you can't win sufficient fire superiority to close, then your attack has failed.

Skarper18 Jul 2013 8:09 a.m. PST

In a nutshell – Mr Rapier.

Dragon Gunner18 Jul 2013 8:51 a.m. PST

"In prolonged Fire Fights units would be able to get supply runs to replenish ammo to an extent"- wolfhag

Its not practical and bordering on impossible under some tactical situations.

"During a lull the Platoon/Squad Leader would do an ammo check and redistribute what's left so everyone has the same amount of ammo"- Wolfhag

That occurs at the end of the firefight. I have never seen a squad leader run from position to position to redistribute ammunition he would get killed.

"If the unit suffered 50% causalities the remaining guys would effectively have their ammo supply doubled."-Wolfhag

True but good luck getting that ammunition if the guy biffed it 30 meters to your right in the open or 30 meters to your rear in some tall grass.

"I want to return to the original point that the primary effect should be suppression, not killing"- Black Guardian

The vast majority of fire is suppressive. The flanking or assault element usually achieves the kill with minimal ammunition expended. Many times a target is suppressed just long enough to pound it to dust with artillery, mortars and air strikes with no intention of closing and killing the target with small arms fire.

"If you have failed to suppress the enemy, they will pop up and wipe out your assault group at close range"- Martin

The moment of truth when you realize you won or lost.

Black Guardian18 Jul 2013 9:18 a.m. PST

" Many times a target is suppressed just long enough to pound it to dust with artillery, mortars and air strikes with no intention of closing and killing the target with small arms fire."

Thatīs a good point – corresponds with the majority of casualties being caused by Artillery & Mortars. If close assault was at the key, weīd probably see higher figures of casualties killed by small arms.

As the number of casualties isnīt large as a percentage of total force employed (around 5%), the answer to the question of how an engagement is won is not "assault" but "withdrawal", the threat of being overrun on the entire front incurring more casualties than suffered by withdrawal. Otherwise weīd probably see much higher casualty figures.

Ark3nubis18 Jul 2013 9:32 a.m. PST

So, a unit has expended all its ammunition and is considered 'Out of ammo'. A gamer decides well as they can't shoot, they might as well assault. However as most killing at close range is still done with bullets, how would an out-of-ammo unit be effected in an assault?

Really great initial post Black Guardian

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 9:34 a.m. PST

I think Black Guardian sums it up well. There are many exceptions to units not being suppressed when theoretically they should be. Allowances should be made for desperation attacks/defenses, Human Wave and Banzai Attacks and the Marine charge across the air field on Peleliu and wading 500 yards to the beach at Tarawa while under small arms and mortar fire the entire way. Suppression would be converted to causalities with no Morale Check. Also there are the single heroic actions where an individual braves enemy fire and against the odds tosses a grenade or demo charge into the bunker or MG pit that had them all pinned down. From many of the accounts I've read that's how many times strong positions were taken out, not by squad/platoon sized close assault and close combat. When flanking a defender at close range they'd probably want to break contact and not fight.

@Milites – Most "SOP" in an assault or skirmish type game would be "Fire & Maneuver", "Take Cover" or "Withdraw". But you do bring up a good point I've always considered in tactical type games – immediate response from the defenders fire breaking an IGOUGO system. Traditional games consider firepower versus the defenders cover/defense and the roll for causalities and/or suppression. Nothing the defender can do except watch. When first getting shot at any unit's SOP would be to "Take Cover", most likely not even being ordered to do so. So even a unit caught in the open once you hit the deck (within 1 second of hearing the fire) and take cover unless the ground is like a billiard table most men in a squad would be able to find a small depression or something to get cover and/or concealment to decrease causalities. You'd be spread out enough so only 1-2 guys would get hit by a grenade or MG burst. Most likely the defender MG gets off one burst before everyone hits the deck. A well trained unit would immediately start putting rounds towards the threat (call it suppressive fire as they would be lucky just to see muzzle flashes) to build up firepower superiority to enable them to assault, fire & maneuver or move to a better less exposed position. However, they expose themselves to causalities the more they return fire. Training and small unit leadership take over here. Rather than a "Morale Check" you could have a "Defender Response/SOP Check" (lack of a better term) that replaces a Morale Check with some type of fire and/or movement or choices by the defender. If playing an IGOUGO type game a unit performing "Response" would not be able to move in their turn as they have already performed their action. This would have the effect of keeping the enemy on the defensive. Just some ideas. If the response is to lay down suppressive fire the defender may get suppressed (spending more time under cover and less time shooting). During the Vietnam War Marines were trained to do an immediate assault into an ambush if it was at 25m or less. Most causalities in an ambush happened during the first few seconds. Taking cover in the "Kill Zone" only gets you killed. Running in the opposite direction may put you into a minefield or another ambush. However, it was not unusual for a Platoon to get pinned down for up to a few hours in a fairly open area like a rice paddy with the enemy 100-250m away. In that case they'd have to get tanks or indirect arty/mortar fire or an air strike to relieve the pressure. An F-4 Phantom coming in at 250kts at 150 feet dropping Snake & Nape (500lb Snake Eye bombs and Napalm) into the tree line where you are taking fire does wonders to relieve the pressure and is a real morale booster.

Like Martin Rapier said, suppress and assault or maneuver. When assaulting a defender most of the time they would withdraw to alternate defensive positions and not risk an assault/close combat with a superior force. Especially if the defender had a defense in depth with alternate positions to fall back to or conducting a fighting withdraw. That rarely happens in skirmish games from my experience.

Regarding causalities by shrapnel rather than bullets. An organized defender would suppress/pin down an attacker with small arms fire and then call in indirect mortar/arty on them. This would be the point the attackers would decide if it was worth the effort to continue or fall back/break contact and try again because now they'll be taking causalities. However, in a skirmish game breaking contact at this point it's "Game Over" and most players would make their guys hang in there until they get wiped out. That's the reality of "war gaming". For most players killing is fun, suppression is like kissing your sister.

Wolfhag

Dragon Gunner18 Jul 2013 9:44 a.m. PST

" However as most killing at close range is still done with bullets, how would an out-of-ammo unit be effected in an assault?"-Ark

No one in their right mind is going to assault if they are totally out ammunition (Japanese Banzai the exception…). When ammunition starts to get low most troops will save the final rounds for personal defense and suppressive fire will cease. At that point the defender becomes unsuppressed and the fire fight is over.

Skarper18 Jul 2013 9:45 a.m. PST

I think we need a morale or reaction test to see if troops will hold on to the last second and fight 'hand-to-hand' or fall back to an alternate position. Even if the commander (including the GROFAZ himself) has issued a stand fast order the men including the officers at the sharp end might elect to fall back anyway.

It is part of good tactics to fall back, regroup and reuse the defenders' advantages of concealment and surprise.

Players could influence what the troops do but not have 100% control.

Last Hussar18 Jul 2013 9:45 a.m. PST

A compromise between the 'Track everything' (complicated) and the random (Lose it all on first firing) is EDNA, as found in TFL TW&T for certain consumables (usually grenades and artillery)

Ever Decreasing Number Allocation

Each unit has a EDNA rating from 1-5. After it uses that particular weapon/ammo/etc roll a d6. If you roll more than the CURRENT EDNA, it decreases by 1.

If the EDNA reaches 0, then the unit is low/out of ammo (depending on the game).

The EDNA lowers quicker the quicker it is lowered, but you still get a low ammo indication ("I'm down to 2!"). It also adds some uncertainty.

A unit with an EDNA of 4 COULD be out of ammo in 4 turns – the chance of this happening is 2/6 x 3/6 x 4/6 x 5/6 – about 9%

Dragon Gunner18 Jul 2013 9:50 a.m. PST

"If close assault was at the key, weīd probably see higher figures of casualties killed by small arms."-Black Guardian

Assaults are primarily used to dislodge defenders from a prepared defense where indirect fire is ineffective.

donlowry18 Jul 2013 11:05 a.m. PST

Rather than a "Morale Check" you could have a "Defender Response/SOP Check" (lack of a better term) that replaces a Morale Check with some type of fire and/or movement or choices by the defender.

My 1:1 games use simultaneous movement, and a fire fight is A's firepower vs. B's cover and B's firepower vs. A's cover. Then there are rolls for casualties, which, if any occur, will lower the morale of the unit(s) taking them. Then the results of the firepower/cover vs. morale.

I'd like to have a simpler system, as I'm not really into infantry, but I do want to be "realistic."

Gamesman618 Jul 2013 11:55 a.m. PST

I think simple in application can still be realistic in feel.

John D Salt18 Jul 2013 1:11 p.m. PST

Dragon Gunner wrote:


No one in their right mind is going to assault if they are totally out ammunition (Japanese Banzai the exception…).

Errh, what about 1 PWRR at Danny Boy?

All the best,

John.

Gamesman618 Jul 2013 2:08 p.m. PST

I haven't looked at EDNA for a while but as I recall it was a number reflecting a units overall effectiveness, not just ammo, morale etc.

Ark3nubis18 Jul 2013 2:40 p.m. PST

Hi Dragon Gunner, i totally agree; out of ammo = no assault (in most cases)

So irrelavent of real life, what's to stop WARGAMERS from charging units in if those units are out of ammo? Modified leadership/morale? Negative modifiers when in combat?

Dragon Gunner18 Jul 2013 3:09 p.m. PST

Rules

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 10:43 p.m. PST

One might suppose that a decreased amount of fire from those units that had innsufficent ammunition to keep up a steady volume would give experienced soldiers a moment of definition, where they might conclude a charge was more possible, and losses were likely to be less. In the heat of battle, this would often be miscalculated. It's not Napoleonic, but Little Round Top would be an example. As would a French Guard artilley battery on the spur off La Haye, without shot, pantomiming the process of loading and firing, simply to hold the pursuit at bay, which apparently worked for a moment.
Bottom line-Dragon runner grasps it- it's all about how your rules abstract reality. They all do- choose your favorite abstraction.

UshCha18 Jul 2013 11:27 p.m. PST

Black Guardian, Excellent post. However I have looked into artillery fire to a modest amount the US maual pn Mortares in interesting if somewhat selft conflicting. Iwould reply to the authors of manuals if I was aware of a usefull address. However even artillery does not do that much in killing on the battlefield. Most artillery does its dammage becuase it is ever present and a few casualties a day is where it gets big numbers in general, not from on the battlefield in the height of battle. The US manuals note the role of artillery is to "Fix in place" and supress.
In our rules artillery supress only. Again noting casualties in a company level game we considere as too much effort for two little gain. Commanding a compant even with all the bite in sight and on table is no mean feat with a rapidly changing tactical situation.

Personally after a long firefight I considere troops will be running out of ammo and nerves. Do we need to allow units to be unreasonably profligate with ammunition. Wargamers are but not necessarily real men. Having unreasonable ammunition consuption in a long protracted firefight is pointless. Is it really worth tracking poor play to that extent? If the players is that bad he will lose anyway. Why burden the poor sap with all that paperwork when he will lose anyway?

Gamesman619 Jul 2013 2:42 a.m. PST

As has been noted, we know that people out of ammo have continued to fight, throwing rocks bottles etc. and have even attacked. On defence it seems to be often about not really having anywhere else to go and a big does of bloody mindedness. On attack, A big dose of bloody mindedness and having nowhere else to go. Note the switch between the two is intentional. In game terms in either case it would have to the result of passing a big "morale" check IMO

Martin Rapier19 Jul 2013 2:51 a.m. PST

"As the number of casualties isnīt large as a percentage of total force employed (around 5%), the answer to the question of how an engagement is won is not "assault" but "withdrawal", the threat of being overrun on the entire front incurring more casualties than suffered by withdrawal. Otherwise weīd probably see much higher casualty figures."

It is certainly the case that sub-units threatened with envelopment may choose to withdraw. Similarly at divisional level, casualty rates are low (iirc daily divisional loss rate in WW2 for units advancing in contact is around 3% and for defenders around 2%, various figures in e.g. Dupuy). However it is important to bear in mind that combat is slooow as it is primarily the actions of relatively small dispersed groups doing the fire & movement thing in great depth. It can take a very long time indeed to establish the fire superiority needed for those small groups to advance (if at all), however when they do close with the enemy, it is very unpleasant for all concerned and the losses in those small groups can be extremely high indeed.

Stephen Biddles combat model (see 'Military Power') is predicated on every enemy combat team in the area of advance being destroyed as they are pinned, outflanked then overrun. For those sub units, things are very bloody indeed, they are just deployed in a highly dispersed manner so on any given day not huge numbers get killed/captured at any particular time.

It is the dispersion which protects them, makes then less vulnerable to artillery fire, harder to locate but they can still command the intervening ground with interlocked arcs of fire. Similarly, there is no point in packing all the attacking units together as they'll just get ripped to shreds by defensive fire, 'a target rich environment'. Something many wargames rules appear to model poorly.

Gamesman619 Jul 2013 8:38 a.m. PST

I can't help but feel that war"games" have not moved far in basic premise at least since H.G Wells Little Wars, we line up the toys and both side knock down each others toys until one side runs out. The mechanisms we employ may have changed but the fundamental process is the same. Having a understanding of the process of combat I wonder can we not some up with a new premise and mechanisms to support it?

On the note of overall casualties per day being low, as I recall and from other understanding that is also because at any one time only a small percentage of a divisions manpower would be engaged in action, and the fact that manpower reflects everyone and not just combat troops. As MArtin said smaller units could suffer high casualties as a sub unit and make little impact on the manpower of a whole division.

donlowry19 Jul 2013 10:10 a.m. PST

I think it is unfortunate that this thread is posted to so many boards, as the tactics and weapons employed in these different periods were/are/would-be vastly different. I come to this thread from the WW2 board, and my responses are related to that period only.

I wonder can we not some up with a new premise and mechanisms to support it?

Rather than fighting to the last man, at some point morale should fail, or good sense prevail, on one side or the other, leading to a retreat/break of contact or even surrender. Playing games that are part of a campaign would also help (until the last battle of the campaign, anyway).

Gamesman619 Jul 2013 10:52 a.m. PST

True… Though I think that military doctrine and training, formations etc, have all been geared toward over coming the common human response to aggression, violence and the threat of death from another human being… to run, freeze or hide in your own troops and to channel or create in them the other option To Posture and Fight to make the other side, Freeze, hide, run or surrender.

Regards the fighting to the last man, I think that come down to the individual player, if they choose to try to go down fighting then they can produce examples where that happened, the rules should allow it but have a mechanism that reflects the know historical probability of that happening.

Milites19 Jul 2013 2:25 p.m. PST

I've always wondered about the paradox of the modern wargamer, some spend hours researching and painting their armies, but field them on geographically illiterate battlefields and employ ahistorical and thus unrealistic rules. All rule systems I posses have the sections on movement and firepower well before the morale rules, with ammo expenditure often omitted, or supposedly factored in to the combat factors. It's obvious, from the sequencing, what they regard as important and it's telling that military adaptions, of commercial rule sets, relegate the CRT's to simple percentage loss rates, eschewing the traditional roll to hit, roll to kill mechanics.

Rather like the subtle difference between war films and films about war, rules need to choose whether they are war games or games about war. The early enthusiasts were great for promoting the hobby, but perhaps some skewed what was actually being simulated. That and the fact that most gamers, and rule designers, have no experience of real combat, and had their understanding shaped by accounts and reconstructions which over-emphasised the frequency and lethality of engagements. This naturally led to the commercial success of rules which confirmed and strengthened the gamers preconceptions.

One wonders: with the resources of the internet, especially blogs like TMP which effortlessly achieve the transformation of information to knowledge, DTP a mouse click away and crucially, vastly more gamers with real world combat experience, if a new evolution in gaming is slowly taking shape?

Zephyr119 Jul 2013 2:47 p.m. PST

BG wrote:
The topic is adressing one of my gravest concerns with tactical level gaming, where losses from small arms fire seems to be very exaggerated when compared to reality,
&
Especially in skirmish games, the main effect of small arms fire is killing enemy units, with pinning often being merely a secondary effect. From the small amount of internet-research that Iīve done, the effects of killng & annihilation of enemy soldiers seem to be grossly overestimated.

For many campaign-style skirmish games (e.g. Necromunda), though a player could lose most of his force to enemy fire (i.e. removed from play), determination of the actual casualty status isn't determined until after the game. It would be similar for larger tactical units being removed from play; KIA, surrendered, wounded, troops helping wounded leave the battlefield, troops retreating or routing, left behind to guard certain areas, deserters, etc. In effect, the KIA number might actually be rather low, but the unit has lost it's effectiveness due to attrition from many sources (even though the type of "casualties" hasn't been determined at the time they occur.) The larger the forces involved, the more abstraction creeps in….

Ark3nubis19 Jul 2013 3:14 p.m. PST

Donlowry wrote -- "I think it is unfortunate that this thread is posted to so many boards, as the tactics and weapons employed in these different periods were/are/would-be vastly different. I come to this thread from the WW2 board, and my responses are related to that period only."

You may be correct, however as the brief summary of rules I gave in the original post alluded, it is actual 'game mechanics' I am wanting to know and understand with regards to how a unit being shot at might react. In the same way that the Warmaster command and control and unit activation system has been adapted to form other games (like Blitzkreig Commander I believe) I am wanting game mechanics that people feel represent that.

Great posts one and all, so glad I did start this thread!

John D Salt19 Jul 2013 3:53 p.m. PST

Milites wrote:


The early enthusiasts were great for promoting the hobby, but perhaps some skewed what was actually being simulated. That and the fact that most gamers, and rule designers, have no experience of real combat, and had their understanding shaped by accounts and reconstructions which over-emphasised the frequency and lethality of engagements.

I suspect that more of the early rules-writers had combat, or at least service, experience than is now the case.

Tony Bath, Don Featherstone, Bob O'Brien and Peter Young served in the British Army in WW2, J P Lawton in the Indian Army and Charles Grant in the RAF; I suspect that Lionel Tarr might have been in the British Army as well. Phil Barker was too young for service in WW2, but certainly served as an armoured engineer and infantryman, and on the other side of the Atlantic Charles Roberts and Jim Dunnigan both served their time in the post-war US Army. And, more recently still, one of the main contributors to the WRG 1925-75 Infantry Action rules was John Langley, who was my RSM in 6/7th Queen's.

All the best,

John.

Gamesman619 Jul 2013 3:53 p.m. PST

Not intending to derail the thread to much further, but! ;) Is it not that really most of us miniature wargamers are still kids at heart and really what we want to do is keep playing those games we did with our toys when were young? I fondly remember my dad painting me Napoleonics as well as other periods 1/35 Airfix and and things knocking them down with spring loaded cannon shooting match sticks with knobs of plasticine on.
Especially these days if you want war games as opposed to games about war or vise versa. People can play board games, online games like ARMA II, I've seen online games with 100 + players working in combined ops with comms, unit organisation, tactics and elements of infantry, various armour types, supporting fire from mortar units, Helo support and various kinds of CAS and medical attention, making all kinds of insertion and extraction, from helo, para, amphibious etc. All played real time, with all the roles filled by humans and human opponents too some of the time.
As mentioned I think there are some of us who still like the toys but think that there is a way to make something. more authentic about what we do. After the military use rules sets for training and some use good models and terrain etc.

Milites19 Jul 2013 5:04 p.m. PST

Sorry, should have made myself clear, the early writers did have experience, the people who were inspired and developed games later, often did not. Even so, the 'veterans' mechanisms did not produce realistic games. They were fun games, where in Charles Grants rules an MG always killed 3 soldiers in the open and two in cover and morale was an after thought. The WRG rules introduced the concept of stands, and a KO did not represent all men killed, but you could still shoot your way onto a position, if you had enough small arms firepower. The quality of troops mattered little and seemed just to be a DRM, meaning quantity often slaughtered quality, which was fine by me, as my Skytrex T-34's often came out victorious.

Bottom line, if those with the experience had produced accurate gaming rules, posts like this would be redundant. I have no complaint at all with all the people you listed and many hours were spent happily gaming their rules, but the games they produced were normally designed to emphasise the excitement and dynamism of an action. Understandable, given they were marketing a commercial product to an audience who often had an unrealistic and incomplete knowledge of the reality they were trying to simulate.

Lion in the Stars19 Jul 2013 5:10 p.m. PST

Second question in this regard is, if casualties are kept realistically small (with the majority caused by shrapnels) and physical destruction thus made almost impossible, how should one side be forced into submission instead?

Part of the problem is that the wargames rules themselves don't give enough impact to casualties. A unit of whatever size that has taken 1/3 casualties is utterly combat ineffective, full stop. They're effectively broken at that point. They may not even be capable of defending themselves if assaulted.

Most of the rules I've played, you don't even start taking morale checks until 25% casualties!

So, for any game set in the 20th or 21st centuries, the very first casualty should probably cause the first morale test.

Milites19 Jul 2013 5:29 p.m. PST

Exactly, I've just read the Charles Grant rules, downloaded from the 1968 Meccano magazine. He writes an eloquent forward, to the morale section, about how important morale is, but illustrates it with a game example where a unit loses a third of its strength, fails morale badly and pauses. Next go it can try to roll its morale and reactivate.

Later games, like WRG had a morale check when first under fire, but it was easy to pass it and 25% casualties were normally needed to have a good chance to slow, halt or retreat a unit. The later edition totally botched morale with fixed numbers of casualties (normally a third) triggering effects. The 'hey, lets concentrate on third platoon because we only need another element suppressed, to cause a guaranteed retreat' syndrome.

donlowry20 Jul 2013 10:28 a.m. PST

it is actual 'game mechanics' I am wanting to know and understand with regards to how a unit being shot at might react.

That's my point: units in different time periods reacted differently to being shot at. A Napoleonic battalion would stand there and take it (or was supposed to), while returning fire, whereas a WW2 squad or platoon would hit the dirt.

Milites20 Jul 2013 11:14 a.m. PST

A Napoleonic battalion facing one Bren gun would hit the dirt, never mind an Mg-42!

Black Guardian20 Jul 2013 1:19 p.m. PST

A Napoleonic battalion facing one Bren gun would hit the dirt, never mind an Mg-42


Either dead or alive, either way :D


After looking for some more intel on the distribution of casualties, it became very obvious that the amount of casualties taken by small amounts of the force must have been tremendous. Somewhere I found the statement that while Infantry only made up for about 20% of the division strength, Infantry units took 70% of all casualties throughout the war.

So, with an overall lethality rate of 9 per 1000 personell hours, Infantry would take 70% (6,3) while making up only 20% of the force and thus 20% of the time served (200 personell hours a year) – Infantry lethality using this numbers would thus be considerably higher than for the rest of the force, incurring 31,5 casualties (thatīs KIA) per 1000 personell hours in theatre, three times the average number. With 30% lethality, it would incur ~100 casualties (wounded AND KIA on 1000 personell hours), or a 1:10 chance for becoming a casualty in an infantry unit when serving 1000h in theatre. Not that small anymore…

Now, all thatīs missing is the ratio of actual combat hours vs. non-combat hours, the fighting vs. sitting around and NOT getting shot, to get an idea of how lethal an hour of combat is. If anyone has good input, that would be great.
Iīll just assume (without any statistics to back this up) the good old 80-20 heuristics, with 80 percent sitting around and 20 percent getting shot.

That means 31,5 casualties are incurred in 20% of the time on the frontline, or 200h. One personell-hour under fire should thus cause 0,16 casualties – or rather, a 16% risk of being wounded or killed in 1 hour of combat for every soldier. A platoon (30 men) in contact is likely to suffer 4,725 casualties in an hour of fighting.


Further assuming that all casualties from units behind frontline are caused by Artillery, Mortar & Air, that leaves 70% of all casualties with the remaining causes of injury, and if my math is not off, that increases the ratio of bullet wounds to ~35% for the remaining 70% of casualties (infantry). So, a third of our wounded & killed Infantrymen would have been hit by bullets (1,6 soldiers per hour) and the rest by fragmentation.

The bullets would probably account for more KIA, as bullets wounds tend to be more lethal than shrapnels(at least thats the case in afghanistan & irak today, guess its not much different in WW2, especially as more full-power cartridges were employed back then than today).

So, I guess the lethality for infantry in direct action is indeed much higher than the overall statistics suggest (damned averages!) – and bullets seem to have caused a greater share among these.

Question now is, how many casualties did occur due to artillery shelling (preparatory bombardment) and how many during actual fighting as depicted on the tabletop? Iīll stop at that question, maybe some of you guys have some reasonable assumption here. More casualties due to preparatory bombardment would lower the amount of casualties in actual infantry fighting but increase the percentage of casualties caused by small arms during the infantry engagement…

Lion in the Stars20 Jul 2013 1:26 p.m. PST

it is actual 'game mechanics' I am wanting to know and understand with regards to how a unit being shot at might react.
That's my point: units in different time periods reacted differently to being shot at. A Napoleonic battalion would stand there and take it (or was supposed to), while returning fire, whereas a WW2 squad or platoon would hit the dirt.

You're conflating taking fire and taking casualties.

A Napoleonic battalion taking 1/3 casualties (200-300 dead or wounded) is just as ineffective as a squad that's taken 1/3 casualties (3-4 dead or wounded), even though there are still a good 400 men on the field in the case of the Napoleonic battalion. The battalion's morale would be shattered.

Dragon Gunner20 Jul 2013 1:30 p.m. PST

Preparatory bombardment should be minimal casualties if the defenses are adequate. I think your question should include on call artillery for meeting engagements and surprise bombardments of troops in a laager area. If the target is not dug in they will be butchered whole sale.

I am sure someone will comment in the near future with a volume of statistics.

UshCha220 Jul 2013 1:43 p.m. PST

Milites. We had never intended to write our rules but even to a non time served man the rules available bore no relationship to what we read. Hence we started from almost scratch in Manoeuvre Group. In doing so we found many of what we treasured as "standard" rules had n useful meaning in fact. The most obvious one is that tanks cannot sit 400 yds from an infantry position and annihilate it. Many wargames (not us) have that one. WRG made a lot of steps in the right direction but "Featherstone" rose again in Rapid fire. There is little profit in credible wargames. MG does not do well as you need to think about concentration in time and space,building bases of fire and generally having a plan. Many consider this "work" not play even with a very simple set of rules. It is not for no reason that 40K style WWII rules succeed, its simple has even army lists and is decided more by the list than tactical prowess. This is further accentuated by the lack of terrain. MG has no casualties and only a single marker covering lots of issues but it is considered complex as agame as you have lots of decisions. Does a squad move in column, arrowhead or oblique. Most folk don't want that its to hard. Not that turning a base of figures in one direction is hard, but deciding which direction is. Similarly ammo rules can be very complex and realistic but may be too hard for many. I suspect this thread is beyond what most wargamers care about. MG runs atfire level team level and runs up to company . Tracking 1 marker is more than enough at that level when you are co-ordinating tanks, artillery and possibly even engineering assets. Some of our players will not rum a company as the decision making is too hard not the actual rules (like chess).

doctorphalanx21 Jul 2013 3:52 a.m. PST

This is one of the most interesting threads I've read. Following on from an earlier post I'd like to mention the FUBAR sci-fi skirmish rules which have a mechanism whereby the player can trade off suppression for casualties in order to maintain forward movement.

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