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"The basic formation for the tank platoon, company for tanks" Topic

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Art28 Jan 2017 11:15 p.m. PST

G'Day Gents

I am looking for a diagram of the various formations for the tank platoon, and tank company for each country.

I would like to try and incorporate fighting with tanks having their commanders hatch buttoned or the commander exposed. So as to provide range information for the gunner and un-restricted view for the ability to see 360 degrees.

I also want to incorporate tank formations and turret orientation for blind sides coverage.

Any rules like that out there?

Best Regards

Martin Rapier29 Jan 2017 12:01 a.m. PST

They are easy enough at troop level, line, column, wedge, echelon right, echelon left but it all gets a bit more messy if moving by bounds.

At higher level, it is more a matter of density on a given frontage and arrangement in waves.

They are easy enough to replicate in 1:1 type rules, just place the toys in appropriate formations.

Jentz has diagrams of the German formations in Panzertruppen.

Mako1129 Jan 2017 12:07 a.m. PST

I'm not aware of any rules per say that cover that.

However, I have seen diagrams of various formations, much like with ships and aircraft, showing them in columns, double columns, echelon right and left, diamond formation, line abreast, etc..

As you can imagine, guns would be pointed various directions, when on patrol, to cover all possibilities for angles of fire from the enemy, unless they knew where they were with some certainty, e.g. in column – lead turret faced forward; 2nd and 3rd tanks have turrets facing to right or left (and possibly a bit forward); next to last tank (if 5 in a platoon), to either side; and the last tank (3rd, 4th, or 5th) to the rear.

Same goes for the diamond formation.

Echelon right and left would have guns to the front, or to one side (the one they are in echelon to, so as not to block the line of fire of the one next to them).

I suspect most nations would have similar formations.

I hope that helps.

Wolfhag29 Jan 2017 1:57 a.m. PST

I don't know of any rules that really take that into account. I would think you need rules that would simulate situational awareness (over watch and formation) and reaction checks. Not an IGOUGO or random activation type system.

In tank engagements getting off the first shot is very important and the right formations would give an advantage and wrong formation a disadvantage.

This pdf may help: PDF link

I do know of a guy working on a set of 1:1 rules that would take the formation and turret direction into consideration to determine reaction and first shot. He may have something out soon.


Art29 Jan 2017 2:06 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

I appreciate your comments… -thanks everyone !

I would really like to see the rules when they are finished…sounds just like what I am looking for…

Here is a question that may prove difficult…let's say a tank is buttoned up.

So as to make it simple: the crew has visual to the front and in the direction the cannon is facing…

Does that make sense?

Best Regards

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

Find a copy of the old TRS rules "Tractics". Play only with the details you like. (Seriously, even bounces produce automatic damage! The backpack containing all your playboys was just shot off you tank along with a jerry can!) Or even worse, a periscope was damaged and you now have limited forward visability for some crew station….

Wolfhag29 Jan 2017 2:38 a.m. PST

I'm not really clear on your question.

I think overall you are inquiring about a tank's situational awareness which is how it is oriented to respond to a threat. Of course you'd point your turret in the expected direction you would expect the enemy to appear. This is of course how different formations handle different situations.

Having the right formation allows quick response. Being in the wrong formation or surprised will generate a delay in responding giving the enemy additional time to get off the first shot. That could be called initiative. Unfortunately there are no game rules I'm aware of that can address that because it is something that happens within seconds. Most games have abstracted turn lengths or longer turn lengths of 30-90 seconds so have to get into various arbitrary rules like reactions, command interrupts and activation die roll modifiers.

It's an abstraction game designers need to make to have a playable game. There are some very knowledgeable game designers on TMP that may be able to help you out.


Art29 Jan 2017 3:02 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

Again…thanks for the information…

One of the reasons I am interested is because I always get this question:

'Why do they have to stay in formation?'

"just let them run around"

So…perhaps it would be easier to say…keep a formation and you have 360 degree visibility for the platoon or company…

Tanks that are off on their own will be restricted in their viability…

I suppose it is as simple as that…

Thank Again

Mako1129 Jan 2017 3:02 a.m. PST

Wolfhag's being modest.

He's the game designer working on those tank rules.

Art29 Jan 2017 3:09 a.m. PST


Then I came to the right place ;-)

Best Regards

olicana29 Jan 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

I have a training pamphlet:

Royal Armoured Corps
Weapon Training

#34 Part 4: Fire tactics for tank commanders and troop leaders.

It shows how different numbers of tanks should engage different numbers of targets – presumably so that they didn't all target the same one – and gives basic principles of fire tactics for 'I', cruiser and light tanks. It's quite an interesting read. One line might help you.

"Support. No tank must ever be outside the support of its neighbours and equally it must be able to support them. The distance cannot be fixed as it will depend on the task in hand."

I'm not sure if that does help much, but it was relevant in 1940.

Art29 Jan 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

G'Day Wolfhag

This is my official order…

When you are finished with your rules…just let me know the cost.

Best Regards

Art29 Jan 2017 4:48 a.m. PST

G'Day James

Is this on electrons:

#34 Part 4: Fire tactics for tank commanders and troop leaders

Or do you know where I can get a copy of the training pamphlet?

Best Regards and thanks…


on line:

U.S. Army Field Manuals--World War II


pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

"Support. No tank must ever be outside the support of its neighbours and equally it must be able to support them. The distance cannot be fixed as it will depend on the task in hand."

So maybe a modifier to spotting or fire rules if a tank is outside support range (would need to define that, of course)?

Art29 Jan 2017 5:35 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

But you would have to define…

"The distance cannot be fixed as it will depend on the task in hand."

Even though it states it is not a fixed distance…if you want to give a modifier

Best Regards

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Actually several rules do incorporate the concept though it is not spelled out. Many rules, especially 1:1, have vehicles, including friendly ones, block fire if a line is drawn between the firing unit and target and passes through another unit. Doing so results in placing vehicles in formations that many times do mirror the classic formations. Further some rules also limit spotting to a set angle from a vehicle (in some case depending on open or buttoned). It is not unusual for assault guns to have a limited angle of fire and many times the observation angles coincide.

Rather than an "iron maiden" rule dictating set formations it seems a combination of blocked fire and angles of observation would encourage correct formations. You could throw in turret orientation when discussing fields of view and modify depending on open or buttoned. Perhaps then a diagram showing how classic formations compensate for these problems could be included but certainly not dictated.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Jan 2017 7:05 a.m. PST

A lot of command rules are in place to replicate real world: a 12" command radius, for example, replicates the limited ability/range of certain troops or time periods.

Some formation rules are the same: troops of the time fought in either line or column. They did not just "run all over." Each formation had pros and cons. Speed, firepower, melee strength, morale, etc.

In games there is no such thing as "vision" only field of fire. Players see everything.

Seems to me the answer is simple: if any one tank can see the enemy they can all react. I assume Sgt. Rock radios that he sees a bad guy behind the blue house or whatever and all the tanks in the platoon react. This would encourage tanks to keep together and to coordinate to keep as large a field of fire as possible.

ChrisBrantley29 Jan 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Would you go to the level of detail giving western Allies in their Shermans some kind of bonus for having two-way radios compared to early war Russians who only had hand signals and flags for communications within their T-34 tank platoons?

uglyfatbloke29 Jan 2017 9:16 a.m. PST

Wolfhag…I want see your rules too!

Wolfhag29 Jan 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Ahhh, Mako11 has exposed me!

I'm finishing up a video on on the concept of Situational Awareness that takes into account field of view, tank commander status, tactical deployment/formation (direction your gun is watching) and crew type. The idea is that any unit or formation can ATTEMPT to react to enemy activity when it occurs. However, the result may be a delay in "activating" which may give the enemy the initiative to act before you.

I'm not going to go into detail now but it replaces the need for phased game sequence, IGOUGO, activations or initiative determination.

It can take into account a platoon in an echelon left formation moving straight but with their turrets pointed 45 to 90 degrees to the left to cover the left flank.

The concept comes from what Otto Carius, one of the top German tank commanders, said is most important in a tank to tank engagement.

To see some of the older drafts, notes and my ramblings go to and search "treadheads"

I've been playing a version of it at conventions for the last 4 years and I'll be at DunDraCon in CA next month.

I'll be posting a free intro version after the result at DunDraCon.


UshCha29 Jan 2017 10:39 a.m. PST

This was a key issue for us in our Maneouver Group. I wrote rhis foir another discussion elsewher but it effectively forces formations at least buttoned up as it is a compensation for restricted view.


I am a 1:1 (roughly) player who is interested in the use of tanks and trying to make them as well modelled as infantry. On most rules I have a series of 4 "Hates" on the rules I have come across.

(1) Arbitary unit integrity rules i.e jusr a distance which is arbitary.
(4) Failure to get gamers to run unbuttoned at any point.
(3) Failure to model the turning of turrets of tanks. And hadicapping fixed turret vehicles.
(4) No real gain at wargames level for tanks with radios or BMS, (The latter is outside this part of the thread).

This is how we solved all of this by getting players to turn there turrets.

First unit integrity. We all know that in the real world tanks stick together as units but most rules just put an arbitary rule in for the distance without ryme or reason. We decided that was not acceptable and looked for the underlying reasons why they stick together in the real world, that could be easily be modelled on th table top. This came down to awareness. Most manuals say a buttoned up tank has very limited visibility. (the US mauals say a tanks capability is reduced to 30% if buttoned up). So if shot at out of there viewing arc they may not be aware of the firing unit. So if they have radios they can make the whole unit aware of what is going on arond them if thet are looking in a range of directions. We somewhat arbitarily set this at platoon level where 3 to to say 5 tanks in WW2 are a unit. These element are alowed to "instantly" know what and where a member of there platoon was shot from if any of them saw the shot and survived. Troops furher "away" get the data later.

There needs to be a gain for being unbuttoned. This was achieved by letting a tank unbuttoned have an 180 degree awareness oriented by the facing of the turret. (the Driver has a very limited awareness of what is DIRECTLY infont of him). Many arguments have been made that with all the vison blocks the Commander can see all round. However to look carefully he needs time. Most of that time will be looking in the gun direction and directing the tank driver as he has a very poor view. This gives a plausible reason for being unbuttoned and accepting the risk. When buttoned upo the viweing arc centered on the gun is very restricted (22.5 degrees either side of turret facing was again our decision a compromise less than the real world but playable). To maintain a wide arc buttoned up the platoon needs tanks facing in a varrety of directions and then all to be able to see a target spotted by any one of them. Experienced players soon learn to keep the tanks in a formation where they can exploit the awareness. Instant need for real formations based on the direction of expected threat (comes without the need for extra rules).

Turning turrests is now a fundamantal requirement replacing lots of rules (and letting us play tanks properly ;-) ).

Radio, well without radio there is no effective communication other than follow me and following a rehersed plan, so tanks witout radios are massively handicapped as indeed they were in WW2.

I hope this is of interst. There is just a bit as the whole ruleset is , hopefully, an integrated whole and its not possible to cover it all in a single post. Given the above it may be possible to deduce the effect of Battle Management Systems.

Comments and thoughts are welcome.

olicana29 Jan 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

I'm not sure if it's on line. It was published in 1940. I came across by fluke on ebay and bought it for about £3.00 GBP (if memory serves).

emckinney29 Jan 2017 11:33 a.m. PST

French and Soviet tanks in particular had vision slots around the turret so that the commander could see in almost all directions. The French vision blocks were particularly excellent: almost 90 degree horizontal fields of view, up to a 20 degree horizontal FOV and a vertical pivot to look higher or lower. They were also periscopic so that any small-caliber round penetrating the vision slit would miss the commander's head. Of course, it took a little time to switch from one vision block to another and the visibility was not quite as good as for a German commander with his head out.

French tanks also had 360-degree rotation cupolas with vision blocks and built-in binoculars behind armored shutters on the other side. A pretty nifty system, bit crippled by the lack of radios in almost all tanks.

Drivers and other crew usually had a vision slit to one or both sides, so they could theoretically contribute to situational awareness. Unfortunately, the light tanks (R35, H38, etc.) lacked intercoms, so communication could be difficult. It was essentially impossible once the commander started firing the gun because it rang the turret like a bell.

Andy ONeill29 Jan 2017 11:49 a.m. PST

I do the angle thing in sg2 ww2 and turning the turret costso actions.
Personally, I use software engineering principles to design. I use an iterative approach. Try the simplest mechanics I can think of and see how well they work.

Wolfhag29 Jan 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

So what is everyone's thoughts of the situational awareness while engaging a target? The commander is busy spotting the results of the shot. The gunner has about a 15 degree FOV. The loader is not even looking outside the tanks and the hull MG/radioman is busy searching threats or working the radio.

So should a tank have a blind spot in it's rear 270 degrees while engaged and firing?


emckinney29 Jan 2017 12:06 p.m. PST

A whole bunch is also going to depend on training and experience: do they know that they need to keep looking around? Do they remember to? How much effort do they have to put into following the platoon leader compared to looking around (driver visibility, formation, single-minded turret.

Mako1129 Jan 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Don't forget to mind the dust and smoke from gunfire, from your mates in the same platoon, or company.

You'll need to keep clear of that to be able to see anything, or to fire. Advancing out of it is a good idea, after firing, to get off another shot more quickly, in some cases. Of course, that'll negate a bonus for a second shot on the same target if you miss the first one.

I think the tank commander should have a restricted view to the sides, if focused on the enemy to the front, but to still have a 180 degree situational awareness to the front. Best chance of spotting to the 45, or 60 degrees forward (I like 60 degrees the best, since it's neat and clean), and a reduced chance for spotting in the two 60 degree arcs to the sides. No rear visibility.

The above assumes his head out of the turret.

Short of noting his facing each turn, separately, assume he's facing where the gun barrel of the main weapon is pointing, if his gunner is doing his job properly.

Hull-front vis for the driver and hull machine gunner, as appropriate say perhaps 30 degrees (15 degrees to either side).

Wolfhag29 Jan 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

I take the same approach but use a "Time & Action" rather than counting the # of actions. I think the biggest challenge is how to make playable the timing issues and have it synched with all other units on the table. Reaction checks and die roll modifiers seem to be inadequate.

I don't think anyone can dispute that. However, when in formation or over watch you are assigned sectors to watch. I think what Art is interested in is how does what you mention relate to formations. Good situational awareness in one direction means fair to poor in other directions. The right formation should cover all of the threat area. It's a risk-reward decision the player makes.

Much of what UshCha has done comes from manuals so there is probably some tips in there.

Personally I think there would be very little attention given to your rear while actively engaging a target and looking for other threats to your front. This would be compounded in a two man turret where the commander is also the loader or gunner.

Many historical sources quote tanks as blind, so how do we quantify that in a formation in a game?


UshCha30 Jan 2017 2:10 a.m. PST

In our rules we give the driver minimal visibility, 40 yds wide straight ahead (bit arbitarty but at 1/72" its" 4" wide). There is a great picture in the UK of 2 Challengers "comming together" with some damage in broad daylight as they have very minimal view, other than to the front, and the commander lost his situational awareness. In addition the driver in open ground is trying to stay out of sight and hence keep the hull out of sight. Again the commander needs to tell him where to go for the same reason.

There are lots of ancdotes in books where tanks are ambushed as they were looking in the direction of their guns.

We allow viewing only in the vision arc as we defined. We cannot avoid the models being on the table, so situational awareness is excessive and free in a warganme. If the players miss it then its his fault like the tank commander who fails. The trick is to exploit the gods eye view where possible.

We never put it in (ground scale issues) but troops on the ground closer than 30m cannot be seen by an buttoned up tank.

number430 Jan 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

It's real simple, and it goes back to Roman times: your weapon covers the flank and rear of the next guy, while he does the same for you. The leader watches the front,safe in the knowledge that the following guys (or vehicles) have his back; all you focus on is that reasonably narrow arc, and it's the same whether your weapon is a sword, spear, rifle or tank turret.

All this talk of "360 vision" is nonsense because humans don't have that ability, being equipped with two forward facing eyes. If you move your head, you're still looking in that narrow arc, just a different one. This is how it translates to tank formations on the move forget the driver, he's focused on getting from A to B without going into a ditch, bog or crater to scan for longer distance threats.


In game terms, it's more realistic to restrict your tank's observation and fire to a 45 degree angle (and that's pretty generous IMHO)that your turret is facing. Oh and the radio stuff? Once the crepe hits the fan and with everyone yelling at once over the static, engine noise and battle rattle rattle, you're not going to get much help locating hidden targets that way ;)

UshCha30 Jan 2017 11:50 p.m. PST

Thats why at least professionals are taught Radio drill so that when you life depends on it you can get your message through.

PS nobody has stated the worst yet:-). You have to turn the turrests of your modeles. In some cases for reasons not understood by me this is considered unacceptable.

I agree with the restricted view issue. we are meaner and use less rhan 45 degrees.

Of course you can now do Kelly Hero's. You may not be able to turn the turret due to the proximity of lamposts and buildings.

If yoiu do addopt this technique bounding by advances now become derigure. The guy's at the back watch with their hatches poped for a good view and less risk. While the bounding vehicles may advance closed up if needed, secure in the knowledge that there flanks are secure.

However be carefull the ranges and accuracies of the gunnery needs now to be more credible. The fallacy of the Logrithmic gun ranges now beconms apparent as does absurd drop of accuracy with range of some rules. It all has ro be reasonable for the rules to force something like the real responce.

No need for stupid rules. Players are very reluctant to enter built up areas as their limited vision and or velnerability to small arms makes them easy prey unescorted.

PPPPS. Adds lots of interesting decisions instead of dice rolling, the perfect solution for rhe ultimate game.

Andy ONeill31 Jan 2017 12:06 a.m. PST

I don't allow tanks to drive along with the turret turned.
This is largely a gaming mechanic.
Players usually want to do this because they can see there's a target off to one side.
Partly practical – you don't want your gun barrel to catch on a lamp post or whatever as you drive along.
Buttoned tanks get a very narrow angle and unbuttoned 45 degrees from travel or where your turret points.
You can move, stop and turn your turret. But that's your actions for a turn. Next turn you can try and spot something or engage something you already know is there.
You use communication actions to tell other units about stuff. These aren't guaranteed successes.

Wolfhag31 Jan 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

Players NOT turning the turrets on their tanks? Heresy! However, if you are playing platoon stands or turns being over a couple of minutes I would not see it as a problem.

I think Art is looking for something with turrets being turned. I use the direction the turret is pointing too because that where the attention from the crew is going to be. It also allows a risk-reward decision for the player and is needed to determine the first shot in an engagement.

Quote from Otto Carius:
Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy's gun report. Therefore, a tank commander's eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy anti-tank gun opens fire halfway to the right, his eye will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow muzzle flash.

So what Otto seems to be saying is that about 180 degrees when unbuttoned but I'm sure it is not 180 degrees when he would be looking through his binoculars. When engaged and firing I use 90 degrees so 270 degrees is blind. However, if your tank gets in your blind area when engaged you do get to respond to the direction the shot came from.

I have read accounts of German tanks being overrun by Russian KV-1's and then falling in behind them and knocking them out from the rear before they know what hit them. I've tweaked my Situational Awareness rules to the point that can happen to a buttoned up tank formation. Concealed anti-tanks guns can get more than one shot off before the tank detecting


Andy ONeill31 Jan 2017 7:37 a.m. PST

Especially on micro tanks, some people glue the turrets on.

Schogun31 Jan 2017 7:48 a.m. PST

@Wolfhag -- I tried looking at your Treadheads notes on but I can only see the first page. Do I have to have a Linked In account to see all? Thanks.

uglyfatbloke31 Jan 2017 8:09 a.m. PST

Our tank turrets are fixed; that's the way some of the models were made so we were kind of stuck with it. To account for that, we work on the principle that the tank can start or end its move facing any direction without penalty (it's a house adjustment for Bolt action) and that's the way it's 'looking'. We allow 180 degrees if it's unbuttoned and 60 degrees if it's closed up. It's generous IMO, but we do play on very, very densely-terrained tables, so TCs are n't often looking very far to try and locate the enemy.

Schogun31 Jan 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

@Wolfhag -- never mind. I figured it out. Cookie issue.

Interesting stuff!

Wolfhag31 Jan 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

Andy: I have a few hundred micro armor tanks. There is a sticky waxy stuff (forget the name) that I put between the turret and hull. It works great for keeping it on and allows for easy rotation.

Fugly (that's what we called fat ugly guys in the Marines): Looks like a workable solution to me.

Shogun: Personally I find the intricacies and tactics of tank engagements interesting but the games I played didn't duplicate the experience and decision making for me. After reading the manuals and first person accounts I tried a number of traditional approaches for a game but none worked with the way the manuals were written. It turned out the system and turn type that I thought was the most unplayable and ridiculous was the one that ended up working the best.

The Situational Awareness Rules and Engagement Delays are to determine the first shot. You can use any gunnery system or to hit dice routine you like. You'd just need to assign the gun a rate of fire. The first shot engagement times in the game compare favorably to historical results. Determining the first shot is not random nor is it entirely predictable either.

Believe it or not at conventions I've had up to 8 players using the detailed version of the game with a 10 minute intro and a few sample moving and firing turns. Without reading any rules and just using the play aids they can run the simplified version of the game without me after 30-45 minutes. In a 3 hour game we can get in 20-30 movement phases with tanks and guns firing about every other movement phase in a target rich environment.

I have the slides and narrative ready for the video. I'll be sure to include a video demo of how it would work with different tank formations for Art. The concept is easier to understand watching a video than reading about it.

If anyone else has some requests about how different WWII tanks or anti-tank guns would engage each other to get the first shot off in different tactical situations I'll be taking requests for the next few days.

Some of the requests I've gotten is an unbuttoned Panzer III against a buttoned up T-34/75, anti-tank gun ambush, T-34/85 with an ace crew against a German Panther D with a poor crew, disadvantage of an assault gun engaging multiple targets. Unfortunately I only have data for German and Russian tanks right now.


Art31 Jan 2017 3:29 p.m. PST

G'Day Wolfhag,


Do you change the situational awareness for a M-10 with an open top…as an example…

Or do you just consider the direction the turret is pointing…as to where the crews attention will be?

Best Regards

Wolfhag31 Jan 2017 4:56 p.m. PST

I give an open top vehicle less of a chance of having an Engagement Delay and better awareness in the flanks and rear. Their main attention is always going to be in the direction the turret is pointing (that's what the arc values are based on) unless they get a radio warning or something alerts you like getting hit by a round. So if you took a non-penetrating hit to your rear armor you can immediately attempt to spot the threat using you front 90 degree arc factors and if you got a radio warning of an enemy at your 9 o'clock use the frontal arc values too but the turret remains in place until you can respond.

I determine if there is a delay or the vehicle can respond right away by rolling a D20 and subtracting the unbuttoned or buttoned up factor for the six sighting arcs. If <= 0 the threat is spotted right away and no delay in reacting. Any number > 0 is the number of turns it will take to respond.

Under pretty much ideal conditions an unbuttoned vehicle has a frontal 90 degree arc rating of -16. Rolling a D20 means an 80% chance to respond right away, 5% one turn delay, 5% two turn delay, 5% three turn delay and 5% for a 4 turn delay. Being buttoned up is generally 50% of the unbuttoned value depending on having a cupola and periscopes and their quality.

A trained crew will have a +2 modifier and a green crew a +4 modifier so a better chance a veteran crew will normally react before them with all things being equal. Poor crews can gain an advantage by flanking a better crew.

I admit it's a little subjective and of course there are many modifiers that can change the final value.

The delay element is an abstraction to eliminate the need to continually roll the dice with a % chance to react each turn but you could do it that way of course. So far it's worked out well and players accept it. It's still a WIP.

The delay element really effects the timing of the first shot. There is no a traditional structured game turn sequence or activation's. Reload time, aim time and crew training are used for the timing of follow up shots.


Rudysnelson31 Jan 2017 8:51 p.m. PST

Looks like number4 has illustrated what we called a herringbone formation in the 1970s. A double colum with guns in different directions. During the 1977-79 DRS tests, the inability of three tank and four tank platoons to conduct the herringbone was regarded as a negative in the excercises reports.
We even used a modified version of it in the h-series armored cavalry platoon. Since we had ten vehicles, we had sections watch different sectors. The infantry and mortar tracks ran rear guard. Based on the terrain, the other sections ranged their weapons, TOWs, mg and 152mm main gun. The M551s would cover the most open area example is front. Then each scout section of two APCs, one scout and one TOW would cover the other two sectors for example right flank and left flank. My comman M113 would run the middle. Hand signals were crucial. We never had an excercises where all of the radios worked.

UshCha01 Feb 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

I guess each to their own but tanks that turret don't turn is like a pub with no beer; a bit pointless. Buy better tanks ;-).

Wolfhags rules are clever but they cover a very short period of rank only action. Great but they have a limited use in the run up to the barrle and are not combined arMs (To be fair They are not supposed to be). You can get a lot (but of course not all) with less.

The main drivers are I think that you need to get the effects of formation on spotting and firepower. This has to include the effects of buttoning and unbuttoning/open topped.

Turret traverse rate is an issue. I must admit we have ducked it. The max rate is arbitrary set at 90 deg max in half a bound. In some cases that is a long time as our rules have some sub bounds for want of a general definition. No tare changes for individual tanks. This can be done better but it adds more rules and even more decisions.

Interestingly Wolfhags notes about risk and return can become an issue (by the way it's also what make war gaming interesting to me so the following is not a negative but a practical approach be an avid player).

When you go for more credible (by no means perfect) rules the number of simple but key issue decisions increases rapidly. There needs to be a cut off at some point to stop it taking too long to make a decision. This depends on the scale of the engagement, the terms of engagement and the scenario and the players. In Stargrunt days 30 sec was allowed as a maximum with a company. Now you are allowed maybe a minute in extremis. Imagine as a company battle group commander you could be hit with:-

-Getting the tanks to meet the new threat.
-Handing over the supporting mortar batteries to the ranks to help combat anti-tank guns.
-Getting the infantry in the right formation and safe and helping the pulling some back to help the tanks. (Anti-tank guns seldom sit with the infantry, different ranges and objectives even in a co-ordinated defence.

Not going to happen in a bound but you need a plan. No need to write it down but you need to have one.

Must say this is one of the most interesting threads we have had for ages. Thanks.

Wolfhag01 Feb 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

I wouldn't be too harsh on yourself about not including turret rotation rates in a modern game. They rotate so fast as I doubt it would make a lot of difference. Once tank warfare gets to the Abrams I've lost interest in game development.

My game development approach was to get as much detail into a turn (detail defined as what I feel is important and want to portray in the game) and then start abstracting, combining and throwing things out. In play tests I observed what players found easy or difficult to do. My goal was rather than attempting to force a player to perform a task that was not intuitive or easy to understand I adapted the process or nomenclature to better fit his expectations.

Adapting military terms and nomenclature to a first time players understanding was a challenge.

The game is actually tanks and infantry and it has been play tested in 28mm in an urban scenario. The "Time & Action" concept can be adapted to any skirmish/lower level game.

I needed to determine how a Panzerfaust would be fired and using the "Time & Action" concept. After watching a few videos (training videos of course) It appeared to me the gunner would take 2-3 seconds to pop up and get into firing position and 2-3 seconds of aim time (assuming the Panzerfaust was deployed and ready to fire). I used 2 seconds to get into position and then the player chooses an an optional aim time of 1-3 seconds with 1 or 2 seconds having an accuracy penalty (risk-reward). As soon as he pops up any enemy units with a LOS make their SA Check (like a reaction) and can attempt to respond. If the German squad had taken the escorting infantry under fire they would be suppressed which increases the chance for an engagement delay hopefully to the point the Panzerfaust gunner can fire unhindered. A Snap Shot (one second aim time) may enable you to get the shot off but you'd most likely miss. It worked well, the players understood the concept and liked the interaction. It forced the US player to keep infantry by his tanks.

Using the 28mm infantry single figures combined with those new laser cut buildings with multiple floors did put a strain on the system. Players wanted to split up their teams on different floors and covering different windows so checks had to be made for individual soldiers on occasion.

You are right about player decisions and believe me, some players can get very creative if you give them the chance! I go back to the "Time & Action" concept when trying to handle something unexpected. The way it was handled mid game was to define the action and results and agree on how long it will take. I like to discuss it with the players to get buy in and hear their ideas. Some of the best ideas have come from inexperienced players.

Take grenades for example. A grenade lands among an infantry team, they react by performing their SA Check. They have 3 seconds before it goes off. If not engaged there is a good chance they'll notice it and hit the deck. If engaged and suppressed there is a good chance of a delay which means a better chance of causalities. Then of course the creative player states, "I'm holding the grenade for 2 seconds before throwing it". OK, I had not thought of that but that's why you play test. For the sake of keeping the game moving I said no milking the grenades. But then if players did want that aspect they could implement it with the "risk" being it explodes in his hand.

The Situational Awareness Check includes and abstracts a lot of the decisions the player would make like what direction he's looking in, what sector he's searching, who he is talking to, etc.

Most decisions are commander exposure, shooting or moving. What can take a little longer for me is the most amusing part of the game. It's when two tanks are in a shootout and they have about a 50% chance to hit. The player can choose an aim time from 1-6 seconds on his first ranging shot. Anything less than 6 seconds is an accuracy penalty. One second simulates a Snap Shot. Going through the players head is how long is the enemy taking to aim, what type of crew training does he have, is he trading accuracy for speed? I want 6 seconds aim time to be accurate but I may be dead before I shoot. Decisions, decisions. My gunnery system allows higher velocity guns like the German 88L71 to be more accurate so shaving off 1-2 seconds aim time may not be a big deal against a tank like the Sherman. However, if you surprised him in the flanks he'll most likely have an engagement delay and then add turret rotation time so you should be safe to take max aim time without interference. Seconds really do count!

Here is how I handle the run up to a battle using different formations. In a meeting engagement each side secretly tells me what route they'll be taking starting from their table edge. Players could also draw a diagram on a piece of paper. I tell them being in a column formation will allow you to travel more quickly but but you may at a tactical disadvantage when you meet the enemy. Now if there is a nice hull down position that the player wants to get to first he'll select a column formation. To play it safe he'll be in a wedge and travel slower. Then I determine the speed and route for both sides (somewhat arbitrary I admit) and the game starts and models are deployed in the formation they chose when vehicles from each side first come into LOS. They mutually perform their SA Checks and the engagement begins with firing or maneuvering.

Sorry about the long posts.


Wolfhag01 Feb 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

Had some issues posting an image.

I've probably lost some people along the way. Here is a one page description I give to new players to understand the concept and mechanics.]


Here are some examples and explanations of some vehicle Engagement Play Aids used when performing a Situational Awareness Check to determine if there is an Engagement Delay before getting your gun on target and firing. This is the detailed version and I've tried to cram as much as I can onto it so there is a minimum of memorization or need to access other charts. I do have a simpler one. The T-34/85 has a much faster turret rotation than the Tiger I but must fight buttoned up which should give an unbuttoned Tiger I and initiative of about 4-8 seconds before the T-34 can respond. To gain initiative point in the right direction (over watch) and be unbuttoned.

To use the aid to engage an enemy threat in your LOS first roll a D20. Then place the aid over the vehicle in the direction the turret/gun is pointing, not the hull direction. Use the rubber band to point towards the target. The rubber band will be over the situational awareness arc (blue and green areas) showing the unbuttoned / buttoned up D20 modifiers and the turret rotation time. The other modifier is the Crew Delay. If the D20 die roll + SA Arc factor + Crew Delay is <= 0 there is no Engagement Delay. The Engagement Delay is how much it is > the D20 die roll. Low rolls are best.

To determine the turn the shot will occur is is done by adding the turret rotation time to your variable and optional aim time (after any delay). Using the Panther example above with a Trained crew if the D20 die roll was a 16 and the SA Arc factor is -16 and the Crew Delay is a +2 there is a +2 turn Engagement Delay. Turret rotation is +2 turns (the turret is now turned to face the target) and the player selects +6 seconds aim time. If the SA Check was performed on turn #23 the shot would occur on turn #33 unless someone knocked him out before turn #33 or the target has moved out of LOS by turn #33. The tank is now engaged and blind to activity in the blue arcs but can attempt to engage a new enemy threat in the green arc with another SA Check and cancel his order to fire on turn #33 as long as the SA Check does not generate an Engagement Delay past turn #33.

Art, looking at the T-34 if he were a Veteran crew and buttoned up in a line abreast formation and got hit from the flank 100 degrees he'd be at a real disadvantage. On a D20 die roll of 10 with the -3 modifier for being buttoned up (no modifier for crew) he has a 7 turn Engagement Delay to even notice the threat to his flank. Then add 4 turns for turret rotation and 5-6 for aim time you are looking at 16-17 turns before getting off a shot. Even a best case scenario with no Engagement Delay it is still 9-10 turns which should be enough for most tanks to get a shot off first.

Now let's see what would happen if he was moving straight with his turret pointed 90 degrees to the right. Now the D20 die roll of 10 is a 2 second delay, 1 second turret rotation and 6 second aim time means shooting in 9 turns. Unbuttoned it would have been 7 turns. Hopefully this example explains how players can use any type formation with turrets pointed to give flank security.


Lion in the Stars01 Feb 2017 7:09 p.m. PST

This is why I like opposed roll systems, they completely define who shoots first without pages of charts.

Ambush Alley has everyone attempting to react roll a quality check along with the acting unit. Anyone whose quality check beats the acting unit goes first, then the acting unit, and finally everyone who failed to beat the acting unit, closest to farthest.

Infinity mechanics are even simpler, as the trooper that shoots first (rolls highest) hits while the other trooper doesn't hit at all (in an opposed roll, there are also normal rolls). All the situational-awareness mods are wrapped up into the basic shooting-skill mods.

number401 Feb 2017 11:42 p.m. PST

Thats why at least professionals are taught Radio drill so that when you life depends on it you can get your message through.

Been there, done that – as a "professional" too. In fact as a command post operator I had to work three nets simultaneously, not including the intercom. Works fine in the classroom, but under battlefield conditions when fatigue and stress is applied….You get a sergeant who has not slept for two days cursing out his driver because he has forgotten to switch from company net to intercom, contact reports flying in from company to battalion, some idiot looking for the cookhouse wagons and a neighboring unit breaking in on your frequency while the adjutant is screaming at you for a SITREP… and all that on a routine exercise in BAOR with no enemy jamming and nobody shooting at us!

Now walk that back to WW2 and even less reliable radios with enemy HE shells knocking off your antennas…………….

And my wife wonders why I don't even answer the phone these days

Andy ONeill02 Feb 2017 2:41 a.m. PST

For our double blind skirmish gaming individual figures throw grenades and the player can describe details like whether they want to "cook off" or not.
Each player has one or two figures they control.
There's also a referee, who can resolve details with a decision and a roll.

BTW. ww2 grenades weren't so reliable. The fuse times varied significantly. The manufacturing quality also varied from nation to nation.
I don't know the stats but cooking off a number of Soviet grenades would be quite risky.

uglyfatbloke02 Feb 2017 2:47 a.m. PST

Ushcha, we've found turret rotation on a model really is n't much of an issue given the approach we've adopted.

Wolfhag02 Feb 2017 9:11 a.m. PST

Lion: Opposed rolls for reaction checks to see which two units shoot first are fine, especially in a 1:1 man-man skirmish. I'd do it the same way. However, they can't be used as a timing element that synchs all other units turn on the table. Synching the consecutive turn allows everyone to stay in the action and not wait to be activated. Games like Ambush Alley and Force on Force can do that to a certain extent too.

I think what I'm working on is in reality a reaction check with weapons platform performance, player decisions and crew training being the modifiers. When units react they do use an opposed roll with a D20 to generate a variable that will determine when in a future turn they will fire – it will not be immediate because there is a delay. Depending on what else is happening in real game time that "delay" may be a few minutes (because other units are shooting/moving during the delay) or it may be immediately because in the turns of delay there was no action triggered by other units. If no action is triggered in a turn proceed to the next one in the sequence.

From my reading and research in WWII in a tank-tank engagement no one shot immediately. First shot engagement times were from 5-15 seconds. Almost immediate in an ambush, longer when not deployed correctly or buttoned up. The delay means seconds do really count.

I like the timing element approach, some people like the opposed die roll immediate action. Different approaches to the same thing, there is no wrong or right way to play a game. Also I think using a timing element rather than reaction checks after the initial shot in a tank-tank engagement can give a better portrayal of the differences in rate of fire and crew effectiveness.

Fugly: I too have found that when units are going head-to-head (like most games) turret rotation speed does not interfere much with the timing of the first shot if the enemy is no more than 15-20 degrees off from your nose. In the games I've run once the shooting starts and everyone in pointed at each other the players don't normally need to use the play aid.

To make games fair at conventions all tanks are unbuttoned with a veteran crew which means the only D20 modifier is a -16. That means the main factor of who gets the first shot off is the players decision to use maximum aim time (6-7 turns)for the best accuracy or less aim time but with an accuracy penalty. Now the determining factor is the players decision to balance the shot's speed and accuracy while out thinking his opponent – not a die roll. It's no good getting the first shot off if you miss. That creates the suspense and fog of war without additional rules or die rolls. There are probably ways other game systems could do the same thing.


Art02 Feb 2017 10:39 a.m. PST

G'Day Wolfhag

Your vehicle Engagement Play Aids…does the vehicle sit on the card…


Is it a transparency…an overlay?

If I understand correctly…your rules are for platoon and company size units?

Best Regards

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