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"Representing suppression and pinning in games" Topic

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Ark3nubis21 Jul 2013 6:35 a.m. PST

--- Donlowry wrote: quote "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.---

Valid point, and I agree, but as Doctor phalanx has just done he has given a mechanism that I could adapt or interpret my own way. A system or game mechanic in a naps game could be adapted to a WwII game, even if the final result is that the target unit did just stand there and take it, as I highlighted with the whole 'Warmaster evolved into modern Wargaming' system.

@ Doctor Phalanx, that's a great rule. A tactical decision to accept higher casualties in the hope that an attack would be maintained. How would the effected unit be tested in terms of morale/leadership etc due to taking casualties, whether voluntary or not?

doctorphalanx21 Jul 2013 6:54 a.m. PST


As far as I can remember a superior unit has more opportunity to choose between cassualties and suppression. This is, of course, suppression of 'individuals' which will break up and delay its group.

donlowry21 Jul 2013 9:33 a.m. PST

You're conflating taking fire and taking casualties.

I don't see how you get that out of what I wrote. I said nothing about casualties. My point was/is that a 20th/21st century infantry unit is trained to take cover when receiving fire, a 17th/18th/19th century unit was not. So, unless you want to use different definitions of the terms "pinned" and "suppressed" for different periods, it's unlikely that one rules mechanism is going to work for both -- and, anyway, why try? Why not have different rules for different eras?

Lion in the Stars21 Jul 2013 10:53 a.m. PST

Sorry, Don. You're right, I was misreading what you were trying to say.

I'm not sure that I have read any instances of pre20C troops actually being pinned down by fire, unless you include 'advance checked' under the definition of 'pinned'.

Henry Martini21 Jul 2013 4:19 p.m. PST

Isn't it really a question of semantics, Lion? Old West rules such as TRWNN have a 'duck back' response, and figures need to recover before they can act again; essentially pinning/suppression.

It's a matter of scale: whereas the individual responses to fire of members of bodies of pre-20th century troops are constrained by training and command, if the individual is free to respond instinctively, as with irregulars or in a skirmish, then such mechanisms are just as relevant. Also see my first post in this thread.

Gamesman621 Jul 2013 5:26 p.m. PST

What about units stopping to fire and then being hard to keep advancing? Units not being allowed to load their weapons,so they couldn't stop and fire. When they did stop and fire they would tend to do so out of range so the firing was ineffective. ACW with units firing on each other for hours without being able to move and causing few casualties,even when the cover was only shallow scrapes or wagon tracks. These sort of ongoing exchanges of fire sound a lot like the case of a blue on blue mentioned about where two Brit platoons In Afghanistan shot at each other for sometime and became suspicious because the couldn't suppress the other side.
Now these need not be represented by the same rules but they are representative of the same human responses to threat at play. Posture, Freeze, Submit/surrender, Flight and Fight.

UshCha21 Jul 2013 11:27 p.m. PST

I was thinking more about this thread and appreciate the very thoughtfull responces. Much of the thought quite rigtly has gone into mechanismas for modelling the effect. That seems to plit into two camps in some respects.

A) assuming that the protaganents are trusted to use their ammunition wisely so as to have sufficient for therre task. This prevents ecessive use of ammunition but may reject some limited cases where more than typical usage in a situation would pay divedends.

B) Account for ammunition so that ther is a more flexible approach to useage. Allowing players to be heroic or foolhardy.

I subscribe to A but can see for smaller games B has its merits.

In Maneouver Group there is an interesting limit case where the model stalemates. We have never fixed it as that would be more rules ( hate lots of rules) and seems to us to be of no consequence in a typical game.

If you envisage (some what artificially but its easy to define) a firetesm suppreseed in a large open space (where running away may not be preactical) by a fixed Machine Gun in a bunker. In MG they could opt to be fully suppressed, that is combat ineffective. This situation becomes a stalemate. The MG can do no dammage to the group but they cannot move or fire. Their leader can communicate. This stalemate would in theory last till dark if no FLIR or they diried of thirst, or tried to runaway, wher they would proably be rended combat ineffective in a bad way.

It would be interesting if oither games have this issue, or how they cope with a similar test case. In designing MG we did a lot of test cases to which we either knew waht should happed or decided if the model solution was plausible. There was a lot of re-modelling to get where we are ;-).

Gamesman622 Jul 2013 7:22 a.m. PST

They player can opt to have the unit fully suppressed or it is something that is enforced that the player can choose to overcome?

Badgers22 Jul 2013 8:32 a.m. PST

One of the best threads ever! My wallet was initially pinned, then suppressed, and is probably now knocked out with the number of books purchased as a result…

doctorphalanx22 Jul 2013 9:56 a.m. PST

I see suppression as something enforced on a unit by a lot of lead flying. In some systems (e.g. Crossfire) it represents half-way to being destroyed and can, like pinning, be rallied off.

In my own simple WW2 rules (at a very early stage of development), I'm not inclined to allow troops to rally from suppression unless the shooting stops in which case they will no longer be suppressed. It's not that I downgrade the importance of morale. It's just that my current thinking is to treat suppression as a physical situation rather than a psychological one.

I am rather sceptical about morale in general in the empty battlefield. It's not like Napoleonic times where 500 men standing shoulder-to-shoulder might crack after losing say 5% casualties. From what I can remember from reading Paddy Griffith, units in the empty battlefield tend to get wiped out piecemeal rather than routed. This is what happens in Crossfire. Squads live or die but platoons/companies never throw for morale (unless you write it into a scenario).

Lion in the Stars22 Jul 2013 10:08 a.m. PST

Isn't it really a question of semantics, Lion? Old West rules such as TRWNN have a 'duck back' response, and figures need to recover before they can act again; essentially pinning/suppression.
I guess I'm too used to highly trained and motivated folks, who automatically duckback, displace and advance again. Much like the USMC's mantra of "I'm up, they see me, I'm down" for timing of advancing rushes, there's also the "worm a couple meters to the side so I don't pop back up where I went down"

donlowry22 Jul 2013 10:41 a.m. PST

I see a pinned (WW2) unit as one that is OK as long as it stays where it is (presumably in some kind of cover) and can even return fire (if not at 100% efficiency -- i.e. some members are not firing, and/or just firing wildly) but doesn't have the nerve/discipline/cojones (morale) to get up and move. The Napoleonic/ACW equivalent might be a unit that can stand and fire, but won't advance.

I see a suppressed (WW2) unit as one that can do nothing but hug the Earth and pray (or maybe call for artillery) -- useless for anything but as a target for the enemy until something changes, such as the enemy running out of ammo or finding something else to do. The Napoleonic/ACW equivalent would be a unit that breaks and runs.

OSchmidt22 Jul 2013 11:01 a.m. PST

I tried working on all sorts of methods for pinning and suppression in "The Shattered Century" my Mid-War and Early WWII rules. I tried everything, eventually gave it up because it was just too complicated and developed a different system which is that if a unit (stand of say four infantrymen) takes casualties, it can "slough off" the casualties by retreating. So if it takes one casualty and the defender decides to retreat it one hex, it has no casualties, but it gives up the ground. (The way the sequence of action works is that the attacker can occupy the ground before the defender could move back. If it takes two casualties and retreats two hexes, it loses, both and so on up to four hexes. If it takes five casualties -- sorry, no matter how far you go back you're not going to escape "the grim reaper" (you can decide they are killed outright, or captured when the enemy attacks whatever. If a unit can't retreat the requisite number of hexes sorry. It works on the theory of the less time spent under fire the better.

Now, I realize this is not really "pinning" and fire suppression at all, but it simulates many factors of it with a lot less confusion.

Two points. It's a bucket of dice game. The hexes are large, about 8" across paralell sides and you can fit up to about 16 stands of troops in the hexes. There's point fire, where one stand fires on one stand, and area fire, where a weapon (like mortars, machine guns, artillery) fires on each unit in the area. So if there's one unit, the are fire weapon rolls one die. If 16 units it rolls 16 dice. As they hit with a 3 to a six, and if say two machine guns, two mortars and two howitzers fire on that hex you roll 6 x 16 or 96 dice. At 3 to a 6 that's 2/3 chance of hitting so that
s 96x.66= 63 hits. Which mean every unit will have to scurry back four hexes to survive. As infantry move only one hex per turn, tanks two… you can see the effects of disorganization.

One other thing. I "The Shattered Century" you don't command a company or battalion or regiment- you're commanding an ARMY or an ARMY GROUP and the best way to envision the table top is NOT as a real life scaled tactical space, but as a table-top in a chateau 20 miles behind the lines, with nattily dressed WACS moving the small stands and tanks with long "croupier" sticks and all you hear of the muddy-bloody-gassed over hell you've sent your troops into is the occasional tinkle of the crystal chandelier as the Barrage reaches it's crescendo.

The game is won if you make a breakthrough, or how far you punch into the enemy lines. As the table top is only 10" long (and you fight the long way) and you only have 10 turns, and the attacker starts in the first hex he's really got to hustle and make his breakthrough early (the defender front line is halfway up the table. If you get past the front line with supplied units you get a tactical victory. If you get 3/4 of the way up the table you get a Major Victory, and if you get to the far edge and or off the other edge, you get a Strategic Breakthrough, at which time you can knock off work and go down to your world-dominating table at Maxime's and take in the show (and the show girls) from the Follies Bergere or the Berlin Ballet, or wherever.

As I said, it's no where near perfect but it does simulate the same thing on the macro level- the disorganization and disruption of the fire fields and defenses of the front lines. It needs no markers or fiddling with units.

doctorphalanx22 Jul 2013 11:06 a.m. PST

In vanilla Crossfire suppressed units remain a target priority. I and many other people don't usually play it that way, but perhaps we should. Of course, Crossfire doesn't have a concept of *not* being shot at, but after discussion here it would be logical to continue targeting a suppressed unit. CF does have a concept of 'No enemy Squad in LOS of the Rallying Squad'.

doctorphalanx22 Jul 2013 2:16 p.m. PST

Hi Tim

I'm generally quite happy with CF as it is for infantry fights, and I try to keep house rules to an absolute minimum – mainly interpretations. There are some gaps in the rules but I feel that fiddling breaks it. If I want something different (e.g. loads of armour) I'd play a different set of rules. All my CF armies are predominantly infantry armies (SCW, Stalingrad and Normandy).


Gamesman622 Jul 2013 5:38 p.m. PST

It seems to me that the rules should reflect the level you are trying to game at. If you are gaming the Platoon or company level, you are ordering actual squad or platoons. with perhaps suggestions of where you want an actual fire team or squad to go or what it should be Doing. in that context you are having to make quick decisions about gaining fire superiority and how to move other elements to flank or support etc. and filtering info from your elements about what they are doing and who they are facing.
In the example a little earlier where you are assumed to be a general sitting in a Chateaux… You issue orders, pieces are moved and results and reports are fed back to you. To me at that level I should not be worried about the details of how the infantry attacks are carried out, only that they are, and if they are not successful do I have support or reserves to back it up, or do I push support to another sector.
I have said before but I think players and designers want to do be too many things. even at the level of game where they are generals they still try to make the excitement feel like it is a squad sized action with lots of dice rolling etc.
One has to ask, what am I as the player representing? What info would they have who much control would they have and down to what level. How much info and control would that position have over actions at a subordinate levels

Lion in the Stars22 Jul 2013 8:57 p.m. PST

I have said before but I think players and designers want to do be too many things. even at the level of game where they are generals they still try to make the excitement feel like it is a squad sized action with lots of dice rolling etc.
At least in Napoleonics, I blame Wellington (among others). The Duke had a bad habit of riding personally to the scene and taking over a battalion or two.

That's not his job.

His job is to give orders to entire Divisions, and let the Division commander ride up and pull the battalion commanders head out of his butt.

Sure, as wargamers we need to physically MOVE the pieces ourselves. But should we really be individually placing every man in the battalion in best position? Isn't that what the platoon or company commanders are supposed to be doing?

doctorphalanx22 Jul 2013 9:56 p.m. PST

Isn't there some adage about commanding up to two levels below, e.g. a company commander would be aware of platoons and squads, a battalion commander would be aware of companies and platoons. Followed strictly, this would make for rather small games, e.g. if the smallest units were platoons the player should represent a battalion commander and would have, say, 12 units to manoeuvre. In my experience most wargames seem to represent at least three levels with more like 50 separate bases.

UshCha22 Jul 2013 11:17 p.m. PST

Having more pices is neccessary as we don't have sub unit commanders. I would love an executive officer to place my platoons but alas I do not have one. If like me you want to play on realistic terrain. That is a feature density close to real for the groundscale, you find that there is a massive amout of it. In real terrain you end up in complicated dispositions defined by terrain. This does need detailed dispositions.

With things like pinning, it is most likely in a modern game to be when you are in relatively safe terrin surrounded by less friendly terrain. This begs the question should you model that terrain. Troops magically finding a perfect rise in the middle of a pre-surveyed fixed lime MG is unacceptably stupid, but is what is easily achieved by a dice roll. Similarly if you have surveyed a field of fire only to find it covered in ridges it would be stupid. How do you cope with this? In MG you can only go to ground and be suppressed. Pinned needs terrain of such a size it would have and is modlled. How do you cope with this issue?

doctorphalanx23 Jul 2013 1:59 a.m. PST


Not sure I quite follow you. When playing Crossfire I use a lot of terrain link My projected WW2 rules will be hex based. Each hex will represent an area 250m across and allow up to 4 infantry platoons to 'stack'. The hex will determine the terrain type, e.g. bocage, wood etc. The exact effect of the terrain will be fixed in advance, i.e. no surprises.

Gamesman623 Jul 2013 6:10 a.m. PST

"At least in Napoleonics, I blame Wellington (among others). The Duke had a bad habit of riding personally to the scene and taking over a battalion or two."
But even he could only be in one place at a time. An option to lead a battalion if fine, but you can't do that with every battalion all the time, and when you are in one spot you are not in another.

"Isn't there some adage about commanding up to two levels below, e.g. a company commander would be aware of platoons and squads, a battalion commander would be aware of companies and platoons."
Yes that is the model I use, a player in the role of Pltn CO can control down to the level of a fire team. The figures can be individually based but the fire team moves and shoots etc as one unit. IMO there is a reason why that is a real model, as such if we use it as a baseline in games then it can help achieve a representation, the players/desire desire to micro manage changes that dynamic and bogs the game down with unnecessary steps and mechanisms that the person we are representing would not need to know.

"Having more pieces is necessary as we don't have sub unit commanders."
I wouldn't say it was necessary, it is a consequence. I can't as PLT CO tell a fire team leader what do do and expect individuals to do something, so you either have change the "actuality" and micro manage or round things down to the level of the fire team and accept it. Logically surely the less sub leaders you have the fewer the sub units you should have. The development of command and control, chain of command and training is to to enable more flexible forces to operate?

UshCha223 Jul 2013 10:07 a.m. PST

doctorphalanx. 3 platoons in 250m looks a bit tight. Typically 1 platoon occupies a frontage in defence of about 500m. 3 platoons in 250m looks like a gift to artillery firing at them. even in attack, Nice terrain by the way. So MG's have an effective range of about 2 hex (grazing or graving fire and 3 to 4 max? If so why so many platoons in one place?

doctorphalanx23 Jul 2013 11:42 a.m. PST

The idea of 3 or 4 platoons in a hex is just a stacking limit and should indeed be punished, but expecting 1 platoon to defend a 250m hex seems reasonable from what I've read. But all ideas are entirely provisional at the moment.

Lion in the Stars23 Jul 2013 12:19 p.m. PST

Isn't there some adage about commanding up to two levels below, e.g. a company commander would be aware of platoons and squads, a battalion commander would be aware of companies and platoons. Followed strictly, this would make for rather small games, e.g. if the smallest units were platoons the player should represent a battalion commander and would have, say, 12 units to manoeuvre. In my experience most wargames seem to represent at least three levels with more like 50 separate bases.
That's usually spoken "Company commander gives orders to platoons and is aware of the status of squads."

So depending on how you model the squad determines number of elements for the gamer to move. I'll pick on Flames for an example. You're giving orders to platoons, and are only vaguely aware of the status of individual squads, since squads are 2-3 bases. The gamer doesn't have to put the individual troops into the best spot, the game handles that in always giving infantry a 3+ save and by using troop quality to determine how hard the troops are to hit.

Using that 2-down model, I really think that Flames is a player-as-battalion-commander game, since you really only know the status of your platoons. Commanding a battalion might give the player 12-15 platoons (3x3 infantry platoons, HMG, Mortars, AT guns, attached recon and tank platoons, artillery.)

Similarly, 2-down makes Ambush Alley/Force on Force a player-as-platoon-leader game, since you know the status of each fireteam. A Stryker Platoon would have 6 fireteams, two HMG teams, a command team, and 4 Strykers, again giving 13 units for the player to handle. But it's still assumed in the rules that the individual soldiers will find the best cover available unless they're well away from any terrain at all.

UshCha25 Jul 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

Lion in the stars,
Following military strategy/comments like that does not work in our form of simulation. A real company commnder has actual platoon leaders to sensibly deploy his troops. We wargamers do not. The real world remains the real world and real terrain, even simplified a bit is still complex. No rule set I know of has artificial intelegence as to how to deploy its teams in a sensible manner. Hence the player has to do it. The over simplification of the terrain means that deploying 4 or so men on a base, while not ideal is an acceptable compromise for a company game. However sometimes in very complex terrain even this may not be sensible. Real company commanders have much more to do than wargame company commander so asking him to deploy squads is not unreasonable. In any game the level of terrain modelling will have a key part in deciding how credible the final model is. Any model is only as good as its weakest link. Many wargames over emphasise certain aspects. Points value systems destroy credibility by restricting the terrain artificially to get some sort of balance at the expence of credibility. Most wargamers need to look at google maps to see just how much terrain is actually present in there specified wargames deployment area. If your battle does not have the right number of roads, hedges and ridge lines (height is not always quite so critical if sight line lengths are somewhere near). Failue to addess this will result in a none credible battle. It may be fun for some but it is not usefully representative if resemblance to aspects of reality is what is desired.

Note wargames are not reality, same as stress models. If a component fails in a stress model of a building we do not go out and shoot the relevant number of folk that the builing colapseing would kill. Hence it is never realality but it can be a simulation and usefull/educational (in the fun sence).

Lion in the Stars25 Jul 2013 12:07 p.m. PST

A real company commnder has actual platoon leaders to sensibly deploy his troops. We wargamers do not.
Why do so many systems require the player to put each model into best position when there are ways to make the game rules take care of the issue?

Like I said, Flames of War makes the to-hit number for shooting at infantry dependent on their training. Ambush Alley also assumes that the troops are in the best cover they can find, unless there are no terrain features close to the fireteam. The player doesn't need to move each figure or stand into best position. Want your Artillery or HMGs in better positions? Order them to dig in!

UshCha25 Jul 2013 1:51 p.m. PST

Lion in the starts. I have never seen a set of rules that given a complex set of terrain it can deploy troops. Neithet HaveI seen a set that can even deploy the spaceing of troops as a fuction of terrain. In the atlantic wall troops had interlocking fire at almost 1000m spaceing. In an urban area you may need to deploy on maybe 250m frontage to cover your back. How would you mark that on a platoon base and sensibly mark the area it was defening? That looks like a lot of paperwork. It would be quicker and more intuative for the player to deploy the teams than define the tactical stance to the platoon leader.

Digging in takes about 4 hrs or more for a support weapons (see US engineering manuals). Most games do not seem to have that much time with no action.

Lion in the Stars25 Jul 2013 8:26 p.m. PST

I keep forgetting that Maneuver Group assumes (or should that be requires?) near-perfect 1:1 modeling of terrain features.

UshCha, the only game I play with as much detail as you describe for your battles is Infinity, where I have a total of ~10 models to keep track of.

Flames of War and Ambush Alley recognize the 'impracticality' of modeling every single ridge, ditch, hummock, dip, etc, and assumes that there is in fact SOMETHING for your troops to shelter behind without the gamer needing to model everything. After all, a 0.5m deep ditch between rows in a crop field might not even be marked on the maps, but it's enough to give a soldier cover from an HMG or artillery.

doctorphalanx25 Jul 2013 11:45 p.m. PST

Crossfire makes the same assumption when troops Ground Hug. They then enjoy the same level of protection as being in cover, but can't move.

UshCha25 Jul 2013 11:48 p.m. PST

Lion in the stars.
Even in a big game you can't find a big bit of cover in a HMG field of fire as you would have placed it where ther was minimum. You could not have an "average" throw for a pre-surveyed bit of ground. You would need to change it where the ground had been surveyed or even had gaps cutin relevant terrain. In addition any such avaidable gaps would have pre-designated Grenade impact points negating such effects. While trhis could be done given some sort of terrain characterisation it would be nearly as complex as having reasonable terrain.

Megagente02 Aug 2013 8:02 p.m. PST

In 40K we throw them face down to the floor.

Lion in the Stars02 Aug 2013 9:13 p.m. PST

I'm obviously missing something that Ushcha is trying to tell me.

Ushcha, an 18" deep trench, like the irrigation ditch at the edge of a field, is deep enough to provide protection from small arms and fragments that didn't come from an airburst.

Depending on what crop you're crawling through, you can have 12-18" deep corrugations between the rows in said field. Heck, in Afghanistan's grape fields, you can have a 2m deep trench between rows of grapes 1m apart!

Or the small rises and ridges (or gullies/arroyos/wadis) in the desert or steppes, not tall/deep enough to be represented on any map, but tall/deep enough to either give a hull down or completely hide a tank.

I'm talking about the rules assuming troops make use of pieces of microterrain like that.

Or are you telling me that Maneuver Group requires you to mark every single rock, bush and tree, ditch, wadi and road cut?

RTJEBADIA03 Aug 2013 9:30 a.m. PST

I think I'm with Lion on this one, for games above Platoon+. Maybe you can make "micro-terrain on the board" work for Company level, even, but after a certain point there are too many little ways of taking cover; it is best to assume everyone can take cover to an extent.

Here's how I'm now doing things, personally:
I'm using Two Hour Wargames as the base rules, usually either Star Army or New Beginnings, though I think my little house rule should apply to any set.

As some of you may know, for squad or platoon games THW is already fairly good at representing suppression, at least compared to the likes of 40k. Soldiers shoot, usually hitting on only a 6 (or a 6 and then a 1, 2, or 3) against troops in cover. When soldiers are shot at, they take a reaction test. They may return fire, they may duck back out of sight and behind cover, or they may even run away. If they were "outgunned" by, say, a machine gun, they won't be able to return fire and will duck back instead.

That covers suppression, especially because coming out of duck back to fire means the enemy has a chance to shoot you first, possibly killing or causing duck back again. You also need to activate to do that, which is harder for worse troops.

Pinning is basically covered by the fact that you don't want to run into fire lanes. I think most rules cover it this way, and it works.

I think this is a good way of handling it at the man-to-man level… its relatively elegant because it just uses the basic reaction mechanic and In Sight tests (along with Outgunning) to represent both the initial act of suppressing the target and then the continuing element of being suppressed, while allowing troops the chance to break out of suppression by reinitiating the firefight at a disadvantage. I think it goes to show that you don't need complex or that "out there" mechanisms to represent suppression pretty well. I think that general flow could even scale up to bigger games if you just change it from man to man to squad to squad.

My one issue with it is that I think its a little too easy for troops in cover to get killed… in WW2 the game would give 10 good riflemen with bolt action rifles, firing at a similar squad in cover, an average of 1.66 hits on the enemy. Replace one with a machine gun and you might get one more… yes, the enemy is now suppressed, but he's more or less guaranteed to take casualties; at least one or two. That's not so terrible. But the problem is that the rules basically just add more shots (without loss of accuracy) for assault rifles, to the point where the average number of hits is now 5 for those 10 riflemen firing. Granted, there are rules that would usually make this a few less as some of those hits will double up on one target, but its still a bit much.

So what I do is this: add a saving throw. You roll 1 die for concealment, 2 for cover, none for being in the open. If it succeeds (rolled against your quality), you instead count as outgunned and are instead suppressed. This makes even poor troops in cover much harder to kill (instead of a 1/6 chance of being hit by a good shooter, they now have a 1/24 chance of being hit) and gives more incentive to actually complete the attack with a grenade or flanking maneuver.

What this does is it combines player-placed microterrain (taking cover behind that wall is what gives "cover" in the first place) with the troops' own abilities to take good cover… elite troops are nearly unkillable (instead 1/24 they are at 1/216) but can still be suppressed and eventually outflanked (in which case they are sitting ducks and no harder to kill than bad troops).

Applying that basic process to a higher level game (as most are discussing here):

1) Terrain is placed but in addition to a basic decrease in shooter's chance of hitting there should be some form of throw using the quality of target. Because it is hard to represent micro terrain, troops should perhaps always have a slight chance of saving themselves, even in the open. (Alternatively just mark most places as "concealment" at the least, with "open" being pretty much reserved for plowed fields and roads).

2)Firefights start with whoever is spotted first being fired upon. They take a quality test (with modifiers if they are taking casualties or are taking particularly heavy fire) and if they pass they fire back, if they don't they are suppressed and take additional cover. Depending on your rules you may want this back and forth to continue until one side is suppressed or it should stop after a repetition to allow for the turn to end.

3) Suppressed troops are harder or perhaps impossible to target (without flanking or indirect fire) but when they break cover to fire again (which they must) they are easy to spot and hence are the first side fired on and are easy to keep suppressed.

Badgers05 Aug 2013 8:41 a.m. PST

I think I might borrow some of those ideas!

Gamesman605 Aug 2013 1:06 p.m. PST

yeah interesting thoughts….

DaveyJJ20 Aug 2013 5:01 p.m. PST

@doctorphalanx …

"The idea of 3 or 4 platoons in a hex is just a stacking limit and should indeed be punished, but expecting 1 platoon to defend a 250m hex seems reasonable from what I've read. But all ideas are entirely provisional at the moment."

That's about right for German and Russian forces according to work published in 1995 by Gajkowski and 1998 by Sharp. Oddly enough, the US War Department published research in 1995 though that stated based on German officer diaries, that up to 500m frontages for a platoon to defend were not at all rare.

Oddly enough, if you step up to Russian companies, they could be expected to defend a frontage as wide as 2.2km, according to Sharp's paper, more than twice the frontage that a German or British company defended.

Lucas' work in 1982 doesn't mention British frontages for defence, but a British platoon would attack on a frontage of 50-100m.

UshCha20 Aug 2013 11:17 p.m. PST

doctorphalanx. My bad, on your stacking limit. DaveyJJ is correct. I am usually concerned by games that have platoons over too short a frontage in defence, I get lost in the moment. My own data indicates a company is needed to attack 1 platoon on a frontage of 250 to 500m. So your 3 platoons per hes is reasonable. I appologise for my inaccuracy.

Zelekendel23 Aug 2013 5:17 p.m. PST

What a fascinating thread. So, what 1:1 rules for modern combat (WW2 and onwards) have the best fire combat mechanisms in your mind?

I've been unsuccessfully trying to come up with a great replacement for Force on Force fire combat mechanism, as I like the action / reaction cycle and emphasis on troop quality not to mention the scenarios…but the fire combat rules just don't do it for me. Suppression as the primary effect is indeed where it's at, and I do like troop quality having an effect on the receiving end, though not the number of guys being shot at as in FOF (well except for supression and fire supremacy purposes if the mechanic is well done)!

Lion in the Stars23 Aug 2013 6:10 p.m. PST

So, what 1:1 rules for modern combat (WW2 and onwards) have the best fire combat mechanisms in your mind?
Where you're moving fireteams around as your smallest unit of maneuver? Force on Force. A tweak to Stargrunt (just ignore all the fancy scifi guns or rename them) if you want the Squad as the basic unit of maneuver.

The way I see FoF's implementation is that the number of guys on the receiving end matters because the more guys the more fire it takes to make all of them duck back or whatever. The "shots-per-acre" gets diluted below the number needed to suppress them, or if you get enough fire on one end of the group to suppress them, there's not enough fire at the other end to suppress it.

I'm not aware of any other exceptional rules down at player-as-platoon-leader level.

Zelekendel23 Aug 2013 6:56 p.m. PST

Lion, this would all be good if we were talking about suppression and fire supremacy, but this is not the case with FOF. It's a separate (and rarely used by anyone but me) type of firing in the rules, you don't suppress without it (well, short of killing the other guys and making them pinned that way).

As I said I'm a fan of the system, just not the fire combat rules.

Zelekendel25 Aug 2013 7:06 p.m. PST

Another question to the experts: does cover reduce the effects of suppression, increase it (due to increased nearby impacts) or have no effect on suppression?

In many rulesets I've seen squads in cover harder to pin down than those in the open, which I'm not sure about.

Ark3nubis26 Aug 2013 5:22 a.m. PST

I suppose you are more likely to 'take cover' and allow yourself to be pinned if you are in cover. Conversely (and I'm thinking og the US GIs landing on Omaha beach, if there's less/no cover then you would be forced to move as staying put would mean inevitable death. Once a unit has cover I would imagine it would be unwilling to give it up, but subsequently would be harder to break them in terms of morale and the will to fight.

Lion in the Stars26 Aug 2013 8:55 a.m. PST

This is where you run into the other problem: microterrain. Even an 18" deep trench will protect you against small arms fire and ground-burst fragments. There are really VERY few places that are clear killing fields with absolutely no cover. The beaches at Normandy are one of them.

ASSUMING that you're in such a place, then I don't think that pinning or suppression is possible at all.

But normal terrain, even a farmer's field, will give hiding places and allow pinning/suppression.

So, using Ambush Alley terms, if a unit is expressly Out of Cover, the only allowable reaction to fire is GTFO! That is, run to nearest cover.

Ark3nubis26 Aug 2013 10:01 a.m. PST


donlowry26 Aug 2013 10:58 a.m. PST

I think the natural tendency is to hit the dirt, and once down it takes a gut check to get up and move (or to keep moving in the first place).

Zelekendel26 Aug 2013 4:21 p.m. PST

This document is excellent and helps clarify the reality, I believe: PDF link

I quote:
"Field research carried out in the Second World War provided
a useful metric for small arms suppression, as did some more recent analysis.
We can consider three cases: the need to suppress an enemy; the need to keep him suppressed; and the need to re-establish suppression once lost. In general, small arms fire has to pass within roughly a metre from the outline of the target to be effective. A small number of rounds passing through that area in a
few seconds (perhaps 3 to 5 rounds in as many seconds)
will suppress the target, or re-suppress him if required;
whilst just one round every three seconds will keep him
suppressed. That seems quite achievable. "

Ark3nubis27 Aug 2013 5:43 a.m. PST

Great article, I have just read it now. My WWII Platoon rules have suppression as the main result of being hit by small arms. So, roll to hit (typically needing 4+ to hit) 8 men = 4 hits. The unit takes 4 suppressions. Roll the 4 hits again, 1-4 = Suppression ignore this dice and just count the original suppression result, 5 = Wounded (taken in addition to the original suppression result. 6 = killed, remove the model and one suppression result.

Even with this severely reduced potential for a kill result it is an improbably kill ratio if you take into account the article above.

donlowry27 Aug 2013 10:05 a.m. PST

Ark3nubis: How does that system take various forms of cover into account?

Ark3nubis27 Aug 2013 11:05 a.m. PST

I should have written my second paragraph thus;

" Even with this severely reduced potential for a kill result compared to many other wargamess, it is still an improbably high kill ratio to volume of shots taken by the firing unit when considering the article above."

Hey Don,

Yeah all units actually hit on 3+ (I wrote 4+ as an average of the situations within the game)if within ANY form of cover (soft or hard or whatever, they actually hit on a 5+ (so -2 mod for being obscured) DRMs go like this;
- 2 for being in behind cover (behind must be within 1")
+1 for models within 6 of an enemy
-1 for moving, and firing at short rang only (most weapons are unlimited range, so this makes a difference)
-1 for shooting with assault weapons when running (typically SMGs)
-1 for each linear piece of terrain between the target unit and the firing unit (so attacking and target units have a hedgerow and a low stone wall between them but neither unit is within 1" of either) then roll to hit but at -2 (-1 per terrain feature) and representing a unit being obscured but not in contact with the terrain to make full use of cover. It also means that the unlimited range is tempered by the fact that you would likely have several pieces of terrain to shoot over, with each one increasingly restricting the ability to locate and therefore shoot the target.

Once hits are rolled, follow the method above for wounding, suppression etc.

Once the wounding and killed hits have been achieved, the targets get a 'saving throw' and is a mixture of their experience level (Veterancy yes, I have been playing Company of Heroes…) and the cover they are in. Total up the experience and cover points available and that gives you the save they can use;

Experience saves are:
Green/inexperienced 0pts
Experienced 1pt
Veteran 2pts

Cover saves are;
Exposed positions -1 pt (roads, airfields etc)
Soft cover +1 pt
Hard cover +2 pts
Fortified +1 pt

Saves as a consequence are
1pt = 6+ save
2pts = 5+ save
3pts = 4+ save
4pts = 3+ save
5pts+ = 2+ save

So Veteran troops in light cover would have 3pts, so a 4+ save. Experienced troops in a bunker (fortified hard cover) would have a 3+ save.

The key is that when you successfully roll a save, it knocks the Wounded or Kill result back down to a suppressive hit only. These suppression hits are added to the all the successful hits scored in the first dice roll for shooting. So you may have got 4 hits = 4 suppressions, but the re-roll for effect results in 2 kills, but the saves rolled result in 1 fail (so a model IS actually killed) and but the other save is successful, thus reverting the kill down to a Suppression only, and added to the 2 scored earlier. Its a bit to get yer head around to start with (it took us several games) but it works well we think.

Each suppression hit reduces the target's ability to move by 1", and they lose a model to shoot. Hits can be rallied off at the start of their turn, maybe. Get a number of suppressions equal to the models left in the unit and they will become pinned (although considering the posts on this thread I should switch the terms Suppression and Pinned around). Pinned units must roll against a variable table and will effectively Go to Ground and are harder to hit, and can be jumped fully in combat. You can keep piling on the fire power and get more pins and suppression on, with each pin marker adding a further -1 to the unit's morale rating. Its a system suited for a slightly smaller platoon sized game but we feel it really encapsulates the mix of being pinned, suppressed, cover and the unit's ability and experience to use cover.

I wrote my final attempt at this system about 3 weeks before Bolt Action was released and it does by no intention, have similarities, although I have gone into more detail and have full table width ranges for weapons and relative RoF compared to BA I believe.

Hope that helps. I am writing this purly from memory and considering that I haven't played the game for about 8 months (I am still at work)

Oh, and we are playing in 28mm with D6s.

Ark3nubis27 Aug 2013 11:56 p.m. PST

Having read back over my previous post, I now remember why I darted this thread In the first place, and that's to understand how, as the heading says 'representing suppression and pinning' in other games. My efforts above are hard for me to judge totally objectively if they are 'realistic' or just too fiddly and gamey, but this thread and all the great responses has been really useful!

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