Help support TMP

"So, how much fire does it take to fully suppress a squad?" Topic

207 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please remember that some of our members are children, and act appropriately.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Modern Discussion (1946 to 2011) Message Board

Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the Game Design Message Board

Areas of Interest

World War Two on the Land

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Top-Rated Ruleset

One-Hour Skirmish Wargames

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Workbench Article

Painting Copplestone Castings' Corporate Babes

I supplied Stronty Girl Fezian with some 'babes', and she did the rest...

Featured Book Review

11,495 hits since 3 May 2017
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 

Weasel03 May 2017 9:35 p.m. PST

Assuming WW1 onwards, how do we quantify the amount of incoming small arms fire needed to neutralize a squad so it can be assaulted?

The answer in real life is an endless list of "it depends" factors but when we're on the gaming table, we have to quantify it somewhere, somehow.

So…sound off.

To clarify, the topic is NOT how your favourite game handles it, it's how much firepower (measured in men, guns or whatever) does it seem it SHOULD take?


GreenLeader03 May 2017 10:18 p.m. PST


Any 'effective enemy fire' will / should halt an advance. We were taught to take cover as soon as we came under effective enemy fire theoretically, this could be from one rifleman.

But is that the same as being suppressed? No not quite as we would then locate the enemy and win the fire-fight (hopefully).

We were taught that, to successfully assault, we would need a 3:1 advantage, so perhaps you can work that into your equation – anything less than that, and the advancing troops are probably going to get pinned. Thus, a fire-team can pin a section (as the section only has 2:1 odds). It is clumsy, but a decent rule of thumb, perhaps.

One thing I would add is that we were taught that, once the enemy are pinned down, it only takes one bullet to keep them thus: ie. just loose a round off every few seconds or so and that will keep their heads down.

I guess I haven't really helped… as the answer is indeed 'it depends'!

Weasel03 May 2017 10:26 p.m. PST

It's trickier than it sounds at first isn't it? :-)

But if we take the 3-to-1 odds as gospel, and we assume that only a single section/squad launches the assault (which is what ww2 manuals seem to suggest) then we'd derive at 2 squads suppressing 1 defending squad (as the assaulting squad isn't firing particularly effectively.

Sound reasonable? Crazy?

GreenLeader03 May 2017 10:34 p.m. PST

I think it is as reasonable as you are going to get for a rule of thumb.

Wolfhag03 May 2017 10:46 p.m. PST


First I'll use my definition of suppression: Decreasing on a sliding scale the ability of the enemy to fire, observe, maneuver and communicate. When a unit is under fire and wishes to advance/move it must pass an "Aggressiveness Check".

This is pretty good and simple to understand:
PDF link

This is the one I like best, especially page 16: link

Another variable is who has attained "firepower superiority" by putting out the larger volume of effective firepower. Think of it as "psyching out" the enemy as you do not need to kill anyone for it to be effective.

I look at it as a "time & action" model. If you spend 100% of the time firing your firepower rating is 100% but your defense rating is 0% (fully exposed). If you spend it 50/50 you are spending 50% shooting aback and 50% suppressed/hiding/dodging/changing position, etc. The more suppressed you are the harder it is to hit you but the less volume of fire you'll put out.

Suppression will have the additional effect of delaying the ability of the suppressed unit to react/respond to enemy movement and threats. This in effect is what initiative is all about.

Losing firepower superiority will make you less likely to shoot back and more likely to duck. This will allow the enemy to maneuver on you.

GreenLeader is on the right track. There is a study out there somewhere that found one round every 2-3 seconds coming within one yard of your head will make you keep your head down a lot more than you'll risk sticking it up. That's why once you lose firepower superiority it is very hard to take it back.

I think a good rule of thumb is fire always suppresses but rarely kills (unless it's an ambush, surprise, etc). The advance stops so aggressiveness takes over partnered with fire/maneuver.

Good luck with this one.


Weasel03 May 2017 10:55 p.m. PST

Wolf – You're right there's a wide sliding scale involved, though for the sake of definition, how about this:

"A unit is "Suppressed" when it is so hindered that an infantry assault by a like-sized element is highly likely to be decisive"

That sounds sort of academic but I think maybe we need to establish some definitions to close the link between reality and toy soldiers.

Looking at your first link and correlating to GreenLeader, when the army ran their test with "2 back 1 up", they had an 88% success rate, which seems to be about as good as it might get.

Martin Rapier03 May 2017 10:58 p.m. PST

British Operations Researchers studied this in WW2, I don't have the study directly to hand, but from memory the highlights were that a rifle section can suppress 100 yards of front against targets in the open, half that if they are in cover (proper cover, not just lying down) and half again if they are entrenched.

Number of targets is irrelevant, it just about volume of fire over the front relative to cover.

At the turn of the last century Trufillanov asserted that one round per five metres of front (from rifled small arms) every few seconds was sufficient to prevent any assault.

Actual studies of combat suppression are very hard to find as it is by its nature unquantifiable, although people have tried. I would, as ever, refer those interested to "The Stress of Battle" and "Brains and Bullets".

Weasel03 May 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

Martin's post touches on something I've been kicking around: That keying suppression to specific units or figures rather than areas may be the wrong way about it.

Wolfhag03 May 2017 11:20 p.m. PST

Weasel, you have no argument from me about the definition.

What Martin is mentioning has more detail on page 18 of this document: PDF link

I look at "covering fire" as the technique to bring a specific area/frontage (tree line, building, etc) under fire even if you do not see a target.

Most games are a die rolling exercise in attrition. Giving a % chance to succeed in a maneuver or assault could be a different approach with attrition being secondary.

Much would depend on the time scale of the game too.


PS- Don't decide on anything until Just Jack joins in.

Weasel03 May 2017 11:22 p.m. PST

I'm sure he'll be along shortly in the morning :D

advocate03 May 2017 11:25 p.m. PST

1) Too Fat Lardies 'shock' results seem to model this quite well, since accumulated shock gradually erodes the ability to fire or move. Eventually units break. Leaders are needed to remove shock (and that can take quite a while).
2) I personally like the idea of more area effects, but I don't know how to manage them without a plethora of templates and avoiding arguments over who is covered.

UshCha03 May 2017 11:54 p.m. PST

On the basis that a company can typicaly assault and take a platoon 3 to one as mentioned. We assume the platoon is dug in and hence 3 to one dug in defenders. Therefore less is needed if the defender is less well protected. In the real world getting ready to assault takes time an we do not want to be dominated by the statistics of small numbers so it takes a while to fully suppress a unit. Then it's possible to Maneouver and assault with say one platoon again a fully suppressed platoon. Even then the assaulting platoon will not come off spot free.

NKL AeroTom04 May 2017 4:18 a.m. PST

I would say a round coming very close (close enough to snap/crack) at least twice per second would be enough to keep a single person fully suppressed (ie. not able to move or return fire).

Also depends on your definition of fully suppressed: is the squad just pinned down and unable to move, but still able to return fire and/or give orders or make plans? or does fully suppressed mean that all they can do is hug the ground and wait for the fire to end?

If we assume a squad of 5- 10 men, I would say it would take a single machinegunner, or a unit of 10-20 riflemen firing as fast as possible to fully suppress that squad. This would only be until magazines need to be changed, or belts/barrels need to be swapped on the MG and the units suppressing would be constantly firing, completely absorbed in their job to suppress the enemy.

If we assume that 'fully suppressed' just means they can't move, it could be as few as 6 or 7 riflemen (or 3 with automatics), or a single sniper to suppress a squad or 5-10. A single machinegunner could potentially tie down up to 20 people in this way.

Just my 2 cents, good luck on your search for knowledge! :)

Weasel04 May 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

NKL – Appreciate your input.

The definition we're going with is this:

"A unit is "Suppressed" when it is so hindered that an infantry assault by a like-sized element is highly likely to be decisive"

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 4:47 a.m. PST

That definition doesn't work unless the suppressing side had the desire/orders to assault. What if they only want to discourage an attempt to take the position?

How about "A unit is Suppressed when it is so hindered that it can no longer move, fire and/or communicate amongst each other" – OR – when, due to enemy actions, the unit's forward movement has been stopped due to enemy threat after being forced to ground.

To me, a bit less ambiguous.

Weasel04 May 2017 4:51 a.m. PST

You're right, that's probably clearer, I was just thinking specifically in the context of the assault from the attackers side.

The WW2 manuals I've read mainly discuss suppression in that context.

Blutarski04 May 2017 4:59 a.m. PST

See Barker's hoary old 1925-1950 Armour-Infantry rules for his take on suppression. Old rules, yes, but surprisingly relevant still today.


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP04 May 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

Battlegroup Kursk have a simple and effective way to modelthis. When firing you can fire to suppress or engage in aimed fire. Suppression fire does just that – if successful you suppress your target.

To remove suppression you have to draw against a "bank" of morale chits. Each chit has a value toward your break point. (Some also have random events instead). Of course, you can always just leave them suppressed….

To destroy the enemy by fire the best way is to suppress him first, then do aimed fire and get an actual casualty. The resulting morale check for losses can cause the unit to rout.

If you're trying to write rules they are worth a look.

As for area fire I find this to be just as problematic.

1) Assuming a unit "suppresses" a given area, how can that be negated? What if a squadron of tanks rolls in to the affected area? Does following infantry stilll get suppressed?

2) Gamers will send units "around" the affected area. Unless you have very good interlocking fields of fire, or limited terrain, suppression ends up being gamed in all the wrong ways.

3) Can a squad really suppress an entire company? There needs to be some limit I think.

It's a tough nut to crack and I've never found a great solution to it.

For my games suppression is an effect of shooting. More common than potential hits.

Legion 404 May 2017 6:34 a.m. PST

I agree with much that was posted here. And 3-1 is a good/standard concept.

As well as 2 up & 1 back, that was also a standard we were taught. "2 up, 1 back, Cav in the swamp.", IIRC wink

But as always it depends on terrain and situation.

IMO, a Suppressed unit is Pinned Down and can't return fire effectively …

A unit wants to obtain Fire Superiority over the unit they are firing at. Again, the unit receiving/taking fire is pinned and cannot effectively use any/all of it's assets.

Also a unit taking fire may not only be fired upon by another maneuver unit. The attacking unit could call in non-organic support from mortars, FA, Gunships, CAS, Naval gun/missile support as well.

The most powerful piece of equipment the leader/commander on the ground has is his radio(s) …

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Most games are a die rolling exercise in attrition.

That makes a suppression rule out of the ordinary.

Gamers will send units "around" the affected area. Unless you have very good interlocking fields of fire, or limited terrain, suppression ends up being gamed in all the wrong ways.

I am not sure how that is 'problematic'. That was an actual tactical situation… needing interlocking fields of fire and the enemy hunting for flanks that aren't in the fields of fire….

How do I know that an enemy unit is suppressed? I would really want to know that if I plan to assault them.

What would be the indicators? I would think those could/would be the results of any successful effort with game mechanics.
However, with military men attempting to calculate how many men are needed vs the enemy to cause suppression with questionable results, I would guess that it isn't easy to know on the battlefield. The Brains and Bullets that Martin mention also suggests that.

Great War Ace04 May 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

I love the futility of such questions.

Sergeant York.

A "typical" situation would require an assertion that a percentage within a given number of riflemen are doing active (that is with intent) shooting, the rest are play acting. Mere filler. But the Sgt York quip proves that establishing such a percentage is impossible. For a game, go ahead and knock yourself out setting up parameters………….

foxweasel04 May 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

In the real world suppression means removing the enemies ability to manoeuvre out of position or to return effective fire. If properly suppressed, assaulting troops could ballet dance up to the final assault bound, of course no one does due to depth positions and flank interference. I'm happy that a position is suppressed when no fire is coming back, this can only be achieved by locating the enemy position properly and then over matching his fire (winning the fire fight/suppression phase) using all available weapon systems, might take hours.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 7:44 a.m. PST


First, you flatter me… Thanks, I needed that ;)

A few thoughts, which are probably just background/context and not really going to help with the question at hand.

For me, pinned is taking fire, getting to cover, and returning fire, while suppressed is helpless, face in the dirt, hoping someone else comes and saves your ass.

Having said that, levels of training (particularly battle drill/immediate action drills), experience, and the particular tactical situation have a tremendous effect as well. However, I would like to agree with Green Leader here, and submit that a tenet of small unit tactics is that a unit under fire stops maneuvering and returns fire, while other units, not under fire, maneuver to defeat the threat. You build the firing line to gain fire superiority in order to allow a 'free' unit (one not in the line of fire) to maneuver to envelop the enemy; the worst Bleeped text sandwiches I was in was when you built the firing line and the free unit maneuvered to envelop, then ran into its own contact, and now the firing line and the maneuvering unit were not in position to support each other.

For example (regarding training/experience/tactical situation), I have been in situations where I was quite happy to be "suppressed" because I knew 1) the bad guys were far enough away that they weren't going to be able to get at us, and 2) friendly forces were bringing up crew serves to deal with the situation and other friendly forces were working to envelop the enemy position. We were almost "self-suppressed," as I suppose we could have moved, but because of the unique tactical situation we were quite content to sit behind cover and have a smoke while other Marines did the heavy lifting ;)

But the counter is, on other occasions we found ourselves under even heavier fire, but having to push forward because the enemy was much nearer and friendly forces were not in a position to render immediate assistance (urban terrain, so movement took much longer and the very real chance of an enveloping element taking its own contact meant support would be much too slow). This is really an issue of death ground; you have no choice but to fight, as you'd probably be gunned down trying to move to cover anyway.

So an experienced, well-trained force closes with the enemy, taking a few casualties, rather than being eliminated. A less experienced unit might not realize the predicament it's in until too late, a less well-trained unit might not have the drills down (meaning different men are doing different things, rather than unity of effort) or the discipline to pull the drill off.

I suppose even gear plays into it; SAPI plates certainly make you feel a bit invulnerable ;)

I've never been a fan of area fire with small arms; you can lay a squad/section down and assign sectors of fire, but, in my opinion, that's not worth much and it's not how we do in real life. While the squad leader can designate different targets for different fireteams, if we're under fire and I've got the whole squad up in skirmish line to build up the firing line, we're all firing at one spot, and that's where the fire (or bulk of the fire) is coming from. In those occasions where you have more targets than shooters, you really just have to cut your boys loose and let them have it, with general (fireteam) sectors of fire.

I'm probably not the best guy to talk to about that, however, as my only real experience with that type of situation was meeting engagements (coming around a corner and there's sixty Bleeped texts standing in the street) at less than 50m range, and ambushes (fifty Bleeped texts congregating up the street, not understanding that darkness wasn't hiding them. So, this is not a WWII situation of moving on a prepared defense in a line across; our assaults of prepared defenses were on points, either buildings or bunkers, i.e., a singular target.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I mention not being a fan of the area fire concept because as you become more experienced you get a much better sense of situational awareness to the cacophony of sounds, you get a mental picture of what is happening, so that you know there's an RPK over there and he's firing at 1st Fireteam. My point is, you can tell if you're the one being shot at or not, and a round hitting five yards from you is not doing the job. Even the occasional rifle round smacking into something in front of you, or snapping by your head, doesn't really do it with well trained and motivated troops.

This is where you can tie morale into it; when you've got guys that don't believe they can be killed (because of the body armor), don't believe they can lose a fight, and are just itching to get into the enemy's ass, you're really going to have to bust out the Dshk, or at least the PK, and some RPGs to try and get fire superiority. Sometimes this actually works against you, where you get guys standing in the street, returning fire, rather than taking cover and returning fire, and once you start taking casualties the situation changes. My experience was that the guys don't really get scared (though I've seen that too), it's more of the focus on not losing a man, so the overriding concern becomes buddy aid and CASEVAC.

I apologize, I'm not going back to proof-read and edit, this is kind of a stream of consciousness thing and you can pull out anything you might find useful. If it seems like I'm all over the place, I'm sure I am, and if I'm possibly contradicting myself in places, I probably am, but in my mind I'm not; as Martin mentioned, this stuff is really not quantifiable, and it's not fact, it's feelings and emotions. I'm doing my best…

I do like the Lardies' concept of shock, and how it builds up, with weight of fire equaling more shock, and more shock degrading a unit's combat effectiveness until it ultimately decides it's going to fall back (and maybe even leave the field). I never really saw a unit leave the fight, like dropping their Bleeped text and sprinting away from the fight, but I did see units fall back 'involuntarily' (meaning that's not what the boss wanted them to do), and I did see units pull out of the fight because of casualties, needing ammo, or from losing comms.

For all that, I'm a big fan of Ivan's system in 5Core (obviously). What I like is the unpredictability, but it's scald unpredictability that makes sense to me, and it matches my personal experiences and expectations. When a unit gets shot at, there are four possible effects:

1. Nothing happens (fire ineffective), and the target gets to shoot back.

2. The target is pinned, unable to move until a small unit leader rallies them, but they can fire.

3. The target is suppressed, meaning it ain't doing Bleeped text until a small unit leader rallies them.

4. The target is rendered combat ineffective.

Units caught in the open stand a greater chance of bad things happening, while units in cover don't. Makes sense to me, so I'm not sure what the hell you're doing right now, Ivan ;)

To apply what I just said about 5Core to the OP's question,
let's say you've got average troops walking up a street in Asscrackistan. A single enemy troop with an AK pops up and unloads down the street, straight down the staggered column of average troops. The average troops could:

1. Get lucky, no one is hit, and immediately go to battle drill/immediate action to a near ambush, shoulder their weapons, return fire, and assault through.

2. Become pinned, which is still lucky that no one is hit, but they hit the deck and try to figure things out, will return fire in a few seconds as the NCOs get the guys organized.

3. Become suppressed, maybe have a guy hit. They can recover but it's going to take minute. But here, right now, they're not doing anything but trying to find cover and maybe (hopefully) drag the casualty out of the line of fire and treat him, leaving them very susceptible to a) remaining suppressed and disorganized via sustained fire, or b) being close assaulted off the face of the earth.

4. Taking 3-4+ casualties and being rendered combat ineffective. Even with a big (13-man) squad, four casualties means you're out of the fight until you get them out of the area, then you can reorganize and get back in the fight (Alamo-type situations not withstanding).

All that could have happened from a single AK-armed shooter. It's so difficult to do this stuff in wargame rules; I would say that a better trained/more experienced unit should still have the odds of any of those four outcomes happening, but it should be weighted more to the lower numbers, less to the higher. What I often run into on these forums is that players (Panda, Rod) want to know the 'why' of something occurring; if my well-trained experienced squad in the above scenario took fire and it had no effect, they returned fire and assaulted through, why did it happen? I dunno; first and foremost is always going to be the issue of pure luck. I've been in the exact situation listed above, fifteen Marines moving up a street, and not a single man being hit as ~thirty 7.62mm rounds snap by or skip off the pavement. Pure luck.

The bad guy didn't have time to reload; he saw Marines coming at him and he darted into an alleyway on our left. But two Lance Corporals, without being told to do anything, had already split off and gunned him down as he reached the next street over. That's training and experience, plus will to fight.

But what made the guys return fire and assault through, rather than become pinned or suppressed? Who knows, and trying to write rules that could encompass every single variable in combat is not only mind boggling, it's impossible, in my humble opinion.

Sorry I've been all over the place, maybe even more than usual…


vtsaogames04 May 2017 7:49 a.m. PST

How do I know that an enemy unit is suppressed?

Usually they stop shooting back. Of course, we players can look and see the marker being used and know it isn't a tactical dodge by the target unit to get us to break cover.

Hunt had the Union artillery cease fire at Gettysburg to prompt Pickett's charge. If only the Confederates had noted they didn't have suppression markers.

Hail of Fire resolves incoming fire results when you try to activate a unit or it is assaulted.

vtsaogames04 May 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

A thought: most rules give a firing unit X% chance of suppressing a target, perhaps modified by the target's being in cover. Is suppression really more a question of who is throwing more lead around? I mean instead of each fire team/squad/whatever having say 33% chance of suppressing a target, perhaps it is more a question of counting 2 teams firing against 1 dug-in team. don't know if that's clear, but more of an opposed die roll than checking a firing die roll vs. a chart or target number.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 8:11 a.m. PST


"I'm happy that a position is suppressed when no fire is coming back, this can only be achieved by locating the enemy position properly and then over matching his fire (winning the fire fight/suppression phase) using all available weapon systems, might take hours."

If I recall correctly, you were recently in Afghanistan? What is the 'might take hours' comment based on? I'm guessing long range engagements? Thanks in advance.

Also, I agree with Foxweasel and Vtsaogames (in reply to McLaddie's query): it's actually incredibly easy to determine when an enemy unit is suppressed. The only issue with them ceasing their fire is a lot of times that meant they'd actually left town. Unlike wargames, most humans don't want to stay in a position where they're getting beat up on, patiently waiting to be close assaulted ;)

That's a very cool anecdote about Pickett's charge, I didn't know that. A little poker bluff, eh? For what it's worth, that makes sense to me at higher echelon, or maybe at great range, but at lower echelons and/or closer range it really seems like a bad idea in terms of ceding the initiative/letting the enemy get right on top of you. It's one thing to let the enemy get on top of you when they don't know you're there, it's another when you've already been firing and they're ready to do battle.

EDIT: I could see an opposed die roll to determine who's winning the firefight; you start with a known base I'd guess (a fireteam, or a squad) then add modifiers for things like additional fireteams or squads, crew serves, in cover, etc…

But it quickly brings up other issues: winning a firefight isn't solely a matter of suppression, it can cause casualties as well, so then you find yourself having to make a separate roll for casualties and suppression. Do you have different 'grades' of winning the firefight (pinned, suppressed, shaken, etc…)? If so, then you need another roll to figure that out, or I suppose it could work like a 'win by 1=pinned, win by 2=suppressed, win by 3+=out of the fight.

And with different grades of winning the firefight, you have to figure out what that allows the winner and loser to do. I.e., the winner probably can't win the firefight and be the element to close assault, as when they start moving there should at least be a chance for the loser to get back in the firefight. And then the loser: how can they get back to winning the firefight (maybe only via the introduction of new forces?), and what other actions can they take; can they radio for support, can they withdraw? Probably modifiers for a covered withdrawal, an uncovered withdrawal, maybe a forced route at some stage.

If doing an opposed die roll, it seems to me you'd really want to heavily weight the modifiers to the side that spotted and shot first, to take into account the initial shock of contact.

Interesting concept.


vtsaogames04 May 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Hunt was also having his guns save long range ammo. On the target front Hancock (who out-ranked him) had his II Corps artillery keep firing. He thought his infantry needed to know fire was being returned. They were out of long range ammo when the attack stepped off (and also rather shot-up). Hunt maintained (after the war, in Battles and Leaders) that if II Corps had held their fire his guns would have defeated Pickett's charge before they got into small arms range. Maybe.

Your input is great, Jack.

donlowry04 May 2017 8:45 a.m. PST

In my home-baked rules I use 2 terms:

1. Pinned (unit in question can't move but can fire)

2. Suppressed (unit can't fire or move or do much of anything except maybe call for help if it has a phone or a radio)

Getting unsuppressed or unpinned requires a morale check so long as the unit is still under fire.

Naturally, units in cover, fortified, etc. are harder to suppress.

Thomas Thomas04 May 2017 9:10 a.m. PST

Few comments re miniature gaming and suppression.

1. Great concept. Game rule execution mixed.
2. "Firing to suppress". This is an odd gamey concept. Troops fire to kill/injure – that's the intent. The effect is to pin down/drive to cover. Troops never try to just "suppress" they try to lay down effective fire as close as possible – ie to hit. So no distinction should be made to order "suppressive" fire. Its an effect not an intention (though well understood enough that it becomes the "label" for effective fire.)
3. "Accumulation". This is another strange game concept. That suppression accumulates and long after the fire has ceased units must plug away to remove piles of accumulated suppression markers. A unit taking fire may panic and dive into to cover only to recover and resume the assualt. If the fire lifts the unit may recover instantly. An odd twist is that older experienced soliders often admitted greater aversion to being shot at than in their "young" soldier phase (in other words they became easier to suppress). Others insisted they now recognized "light" fire and could ignore.

Either way "suppersion" should be tied to all or nothing morale checks not accumulated marker counters. Mercurial morale factors should not be handled like battleship damage.

4. Units in cover. Units in hard cover are harder to "hit" ie put down effective fire but these also applies to soft cover. Units in hard cover are more difficult to "kill" but not necessarily to suppress. Ducking behind hard cover is a very logically response and makes you much harder to kill – but you are still suppressed in that your not up an firing. For troops in the open firing back may be the only possible response.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

UshCha04 May 2017 9:13 a.m. PST

Interesting that many games have a Pinned and Suppressed term. We only use suppressed but the suppressed unit can have upto 3 such markers. Depending how well trained/motivated a unit is depends on how easy it is to remove them. One may slow them down but they may fire back with some effect. 2 means they are down for a while. 3 and they are well suppressed and are ripe for a relatively easy assault.

It's easy for us as we don't have unrealistic casualty removal. Casualties of 3 or for men possibly no fatalities in a heavily fought battle would be a reasonable result based on some accounts.

GreenLeader04 May 2017 9:22 a.m. PST


That was pretty much the line of thought I have explored on the thread: 'winning the firefight' which I posted on the 19th Century Board (among others) as I was primarily interested in Boer War battles.

I think a fire-fight should be treated almost like a 'melee' with the two sides vying for the advantage over a series of turns (depending on the scale of your game) and with the chance of other units (and support weapons) being fed into the fire-fight.

'winning' a round might see the assaulting troops able to advance 100 yards or whatever.

That is the approach I am trying, anyway others are free to disagree.

Weasel04 May 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

I kind of go back and forth on the "accumulation" approach.

On one hand, it's helpful to show a gradual degradation because being shot at will inhibit your ability to shoot back, even if you're not neutralized.

On the other hand, rallying from suppression seems like it is more of an all or nothing thing, once the source has ceased. But that tends to make gamers feel like they wasted their time maybe?

Personal logo Analsim Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

Weasel & Co.,

Here's some excerpts from research on suppression that was generated from empirical data collected by the US Army back in the mid-70s.

There are a whole lot more information available, but for the moment, it was only my intent to give you a feeling for the breadth and scope of what this Army research actually covered on this subject.

During the years 1975-1978, the US Army Combat Developments Experimentation Command conducted a series of experiments to study the phenomenon of small arm suppression. These particular excerpts below are taken from a much larger 275 page report on this topic.

Suppression is defined as: "The temporary degradation in the quality of performance of an individual due to avoidance of a perceived threat."

These experiments were conducted to determine capability and methodology to conduct suppressive-type experiments and to compare the relative suppressive effects of the .50 Cal and 7.62mm machineguns.

The specific Objectives were:
1) To obtain subjective opinions of the suppressive effects of selected small arms.
2) To examine the suppressive effects of the .50 cal. machinegun simulated experimentally.
3) To examine the suppressive effects of the 7.62mm machinegun simulated experimentally.
4) To evaluate the relative suppressive effects of the 7.62mm machinegun simulated experimentally.
5) Determine which machinegun (i.e. 7.62mm or .50 Cal) is the more suppressive weapon under controlled conditions?
6) To provide data to evaluate the impact of variations of the man/rifle system's effective three (3) round burst dispersion on the effectiveness of the individual rifleman against various types of threats.

MAJOR FINDINGS: The major findings in this experiment were provided in terms of answers to these questions which were designed to satisfy the study objectives. These questions are as follows:

#1. To what degree do the effects of .50 cal. Machinegun fire degrade the performance of an enemy antitank gunner?

ANS: When subjected to simulated .50 cal. machinegun fire, the mean tracking (productive) time of personnel was degraded approximately 57% percent.

#2. To what degree do the effects of 7.62mm machinegun fire degrade the performance of an enemy antitank gunner?

ANS: (a) When subjected to simulated 7.62mm machinegun fire, the mean tracking time of personnel was degraded approximately 61 percent.

(b) When subjected to the fire of a 7.62mm machinegun firing blanks, the mean tracking time of personnel was degraded approximately 44 percent.

#3. Which machinegun (i.e. 7.62mm or .50 Cal) is the more suppressive weapon under controlled conditions?

ANS: Using the same volume and technique of fire, it was not possible to detect a statistically significant difference between the suppressive effects of the two (2) weapons examined.

However, the results provided these additional insights:

a) In general a six (6) round burst from a .50 Cal weapon has a higher probability of suppressing soldiers
Than a six (6) round burst from the 7.62mm machinegun under all conditions examined.

b) The probability that a six (6) round burst would suppress soldiers generally decreased for both the .50 Cal and 7.62mm machinegun, as the radial miss distance of the impacting fired decreased.

c) Generally, bursts of fire using the traversing patterns had a higher probability of suppressing soldiers
at a given miss distance, than bursts of fire using the pseudo-random techniques of fire.

d) In general, bursts of fire directed overhead by the 7.62mm machinegun operator at a soldier's position had relatively the same probability of suppressing the soldiers as did bursts of fire directed into the berm forward of the soldiers.

Finally, Weasel let me know if you have any specific questions about 'Small arms suppression and its effects' that I might be able to assist you on. I'd be happy to help you where I am able to do so.



foxweasel04 May 2017 10:11 a.m. PST

Jack, the Afghanistan experience was an interesting one regarding suppression, although section assaults were relatively rare, winning the fire fight and suppression weren't. A lot of people only connect winning the fire fight with assaults. As you know, suppressing the enemy is really just freedom to manoeuvre. So the suppression phase is the same if you are going to withdraw (90% of the time in Afghanistan)
Let me expand on the might take hours comment. In modern warfare, especially IS/COIN, we have come to rely and expect air support to enable troops to withdraw out of contact. This could take hours depending on priority and availability. But this is equally applicable if you are going to assault and don't have the organic weapon effect to over match the enemy.
But the hours comment is equally applicable in general warfare as well. A classic section attack is rarely conducted on its own. One section may be required to suppress a position for a long time while other positions are assaulted. Even if it is conducted on its own a lot of things can happen to prolong the time between locating the enemy and the last bound of the assault.
A couple of things I've noticed over the years. During training, junior commanders will generally rush section attacks (because there's nothing coming the other way!) and troops seriously underestimate the amount of fire needed to properly suppress a position. I was instructing section attacks last year and got extremely annoyed at the lack of rounds being fired. In the end I had to get a section to lay on a bank and put a proper rapid rate of fire down for a minute so that everyone could understand just what it sounded and felt like.
Also suppression is relative to the experience and training of both sides. Generally, experienced troops will only consider rounds that come within 1 metre to be effective and make them react. It's a war story so ignore it if you want😁 but I was once ambushed by 8 or 9 insurgents in Iraq. They were armed with AKs and all opened up on auto at about 100m. What do you think they hit? Absolutely nothing! Suppression only works if you know what you're doing and you keep it up until you've achieved your aim, be it assaulting or withdrawing.

christot04 May 2017 11:36 a.m. PST

Great discussion, reinforces my predilection for rules which divorce suppression/pin effects from neutralisation/destruction.
Many rules, often at higher level.. 1 stand =1 platoon etc have a a 2 x suppression = a kill (Spearhead) or 2 or 3 accumulated hits = kill (CD).
Increasingly I have come to dislike this, Crossfire goes part way with stands being able to take any number of pin results, but does make 2 x suppression ( a very bad thing in Crossfire) equal a kill. (my preference is for a house rule that troops in hard cover are not KIA from 2 x suppressions).
I do like Battlefront WWII which has a 3 stage degradation and separates suppression from disorder, but disorder increases your chances of being KIA…
COC and its shock system seems very neat…
I'm highly sceptical of rules which distinguish between suppressive fire and ….fire…I'm pretty sure guys in a firefight don't.

foxweasel04 May 2017 11:39 a.m. PST

Fire's either effective or it's not.

Who asked this joker04 May 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

Fire's either effective or it's not.


1 sniper can suppress a squad. 1 squad can suppress a squad. 1 Machine gun (any type) can suppress a squad. It really boils down to how effective the fire is.

Doc Yuengling04 May 2017 12:33 p.m. PST

It would be interesting for rules that do not show markers for effect on the table. Simply that a unit is for some reason not firing, or fallback without firing. In other words, results could be rolled by the referee only, and the other side informed of what they may see, and or to judge what has actually occurred.

Some of you may find this interesting….


Weasel04 May 2017 1:10 p.m. PST

With a referee, you could get into all sorts of shenanigans that a two player game can't easily handle.

The "delayed resolution" method works pretty well I think, where you don't determine what happened until the squad does something next.

Mark 104 May 2017 1:32 p.m. PST

Interesting conversation so far.

I am particularly impressed by Just Jack's commentary, and agree with the earlier poster that it was well worth the wait.

Having read through all of the commentary, I will offer my views. But I preface my remarks with the disclaimer that these points have already been made by others.

I think multiple "levels" are appropriate. Whether that is done through different labels (pinned vs. suppressed) or is done by accumulated points (2 or 3 suppression points) matters little to me.

1st level: Driven to seek cover, unable to move. I like calling it pinned, but call it suppression 1 if you like.

2nd level: Unable to move AND unable to engage in effective fire. I like calling it suppressed. There may be a level 1.5 in between pinned and suppressed, where fire is reduced in effectiveness (though not reduced to zero). For game purposes I think this can be managed directly ("your firepower is reduced by 50%") or indirectly ("50% chance you are suppressed").

I think an important part of game mechanisms should be that when using ranged fire it is just plain harder to kill troops who are pinned, and even harder to kill them when they are suppressed. That is, at it's core, the reason that troops become pinned or suppressed -- they recognize that they are harder targets if they go to ground.

Experienced troops will be more likely to shake off either pinning or suppression as described above. This could be due to combat experience ("unit has veteran status") or truly effective training ("unit has high training status"). In historical periods (up until perhaps 1980s or so) I don't think any army did a good enough job in training to enhance this skill set to be competitive with actual combat-experienced troops. For skirmish level rules this can be handled by leadership ratings (either higher ratings for the NCOs, or more leaders including non-NCOs).

The concept of "pinning" might also have a voluntary component. Even if a pinning result does not come from the combat resolution mechanism, unit commanders might chose to either go to ground or maneuver. However, once they have been ordered to go to ground, I believe (don't claim to know, only believe) that it is pretty much as hard to get them moving again as it would be if the troops had decided to go to ground on their own.

Few comments re miniature gaming and suppression.

2. "Firing to suppress". This is an odd gamey concept. Troops fire to kill/injure that's the intent. The effect is to pin down/drive to cover. Troops never try to just "suppress"…

Disagree. I will defer to the collective judgements on this point by those who have been there and done that, but …

In my readings, and my conversations with vets (of which I am NOT a peer) it is pretty clear to me that soldiers DO engage in suppressive fire. I believe many modern training programs give explicit guidance on this point. For example many soldiers will understand the order to provide "covering fire" (or some similar term), and will engage in shooting into areas where they suspect the enemy might be located, without actually locating a specific target to aim at.

But again, this may have been less common in earlier times. I believe many infantry forces had strong doctrines of aimed fire in the past. Today, I think a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of combat have been built in to the more effective training regimens.

(aka: Mk 1)

foxweasel04 May 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

Yes suppression fire is the main aim, if you don't kill the enemy in the first few shots it's unlikely to happen until you close with him. As has been said, the main aim of suppression is to give freedom of movement to allow you to do what you want. If you can kill the enemy, great, but you fire at a high rate wether you can see him or not. This is one of the reasons sharpshooters have been brought into the section orbat, while everyone is blazing merrily away there's a good chance of accurately hitting anyone who doesn't think they're suppressed and tries to shoot back.

Legion 404 May 2017 2:06 p.m. PST

Good comments Jack & Fox ! thumbs up

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2017 2:55 p.m. PST

Foxweasel – Thanks for the reply, that's interesting. I've talked to a few buddies, and I've recently read a few books on MARSOC operations in the Bala Murgab Valley in 2009-2010, and what I'm hearing/reading is a lot different than my experience there. I was in Afghanistan relatively early (Dec 01-May 02). I keep hearing/reading about these very long range fights (600-900m), usually complex ambushes in broad daylight, where the ISAF element doesn't really have the opportunity to close with the enemy, so necessarily there is more reliance on supporting fires.

Most of our ops were at night, and at point blank range (entering and inside a compound). We were hit a couple times during convoy ops/mounted patrols from long range, but we pretty much always had air on station, and back then pretty much anyone could call it in (the JTAC concept didn't come along until after I got out, though I absolutely understand why; I agree with the JTAC concept, just not the incredibly ridiculous kill chain/ROE I'm hearing about).

And nothing is better than someone that's been there for training newbies, good luck with that! I think we see eye to eye on the factors of training/experience, and freedom to maneuver. Like you said, it's real damn easy to determine if the enemy is suppressed, you're not receiving fire. And apparently today is the day for telling war stories ;)

Thanks, Vtsao, Mark1, and Legion, I appreciate it. I don't mind talking about this stuff, it's actually nice to to feel like I might be able to help fellow gamers out. It is a little strange, and I get a bit self conscious, I guess I just want to make sure what I'm running my mouth about is relevant to what guys are curious about.

Regarding accumulation, I like the idea as guys under sustained effective fire can absolutely see a stepping down effect in their own effectiveness, to the point they become willing to abandon the position for one the enemy can't get at. The problem there, it's not always linear. For example, a unit caught totally off-guard and subjected to intense fire can go from perfectly okay to running away, abandoning their gear and casualties, in a half second. The same can happen for myriad other reasons, even to troops in hard cover; you hear of everything being relatively okay until a particularly dear leader/comrade gets hit, then things go south. I never actually saw that happen, but I did see the cumulative effects on guys that had been in the fight for too long (and I'm speaking strictly short term, i.e., this was the third gunfight in a day, and guys were just mentally, if not physically, exhausted), which certainly made the 'self-pinning/self-suppressing' a factor.

Regarding guys in hard cover not being harder to suppress, I would submit there are too many cases of literal boatloads of fire being poured into bunkers, but the occupants maintain a steady rate of fire, for that to be the case. From my perspective, it's kind of like I mentioned with SAPI plates: it's a confidence issue, and if you believe you can't be hurt you'll brave a lot of fire, even though it's likely not the smartest thing you'll ever do ;) So the machine gunner hammering away from behind three feet of concrete, though a firing slit that's only eight inches wide, is gonna be hard to suppress. He's probably not quitting until he's hit.

Analsim – That's a pretty cool study, but I have so many questions, mostly on how the tests were actually set up, much less measured. Not sure how much more you have, but definitely an interesting set of data.

Regarding 'suppressive fire' and 'fire,' it used to be really aggravating to me to read about rules with 'suppressive fire.' As has been mentioned, we weren't firing warning shots. But really all 'suppressive fire' means is firing at an area you suspect the enemy occupies, even though you don't see them, and that's absolutely done. I suppose that's what I was trying to get at in my comments above about squad/section area fire; you don't blindly shoot into your assigned sector of fire, you're firing at identified targets or suspected enemy locations.

Hope that helps.


Rod I Robertson04 May 2017 3:01 p.m. PST

This is a very interesting thread and well worth a couple of close reads before jumping in. My first concern comes from the use of the term "fully suppressed" by the OP. Is a unit ever 'fully suppressed' unless it is killed outright or forced to withdraw/rout? The effects of pinning, suppression and neutralisation should be probabilities rather than certainties. Morale/training should allow a unit to shake off the effects of any non-physical damage (battle fatigue, shell shock, PTSD notwithstanding) given enough time and the anti entropic effect of effective leadership. Thus a unit which appears to be pinned or suppressed may snap out of it before a developing enemy attack has the opportunity to close and kill it. The appearance of the enemy may indeed be the catalyst which galvanises the suppressed unit into offering effective resistance at close quarters.

The second observation is how to model blind area fire and suppressive area fire. There are I believe two ways at least. The first is the approach that Weasel has laid out where the firer picks an area and saturates it with fire which the firer believes is sufficient to suppress any enemy in that area. Such fire is a trade off as units which do it forgo using aimed fire to directly attack spotted enemy formations. The suppressive fire may or may not kill some in the effected area but its primary purpose is to force heads down and degrade enemy fire and movement.

A second option and one that I prefer is to make suppressive fire a function of any fire. In my preferred WWII skirmish rules all fire is either aimed or area fire. In Area fire the terrain and cover modifiers apply to assessing damage/effect to units in the area of fire but not to scoring a hit. In Aimed fire those same modifiers apply to the "to hit" probability of the fire but do not apply to the protection of the target from a weapon's attack. Assuming the firer has acquired the enemy's location, then the firer can opt to fire area or aimed fire. If they have not acquired an enemy position then they cannot and must use area fire only. The weapons effect table has both physical and non-physical damage effects built in to it so that pinning, suppression, neutralisation, wounding and KIA's are all outcomes. Area fire will normally produce results on the higher end of the probability spectrum and thus tend to pin or suppress troops while aimed fire will produce much more lethal results at the lower end of the spectrum. A defender always has the option to use cover to protect his troops from aimed fire by hunkering them down behind hard cover, but this makes them combat ineffective so long as they are hunkered down.

The effects of pinning, suppression, neutralisation, and morale checks due to wounds or KIA's of nearby troops is a function of unit morale or training levels which are assigned values to the units in play. A player may achieve suppression on his foe but the effect may be reversed if certain events arise like cessation of fire or entering into close combat. Then morale/training checks for all units involved are made and units behave accordingly. The pinning, suppression, neutralisation effect the units ability to succeed in their morale check and prevent them from taking certain actions until such a check is succeesfully made.

In the case of Just Jack's 15 Marines fighting 30 Fedayeen in Iraq, the Fedayeen hearing the approaching Marines but lacking proper night-vision equipment were forced to fire area fire at the Marines because they could not see them clearly enough to fire aimed fire. The Fedayeen rolled mid to high on their attack roll and did not do much to the Marines except momentarily pinning some. Realising this the Fedayeen scampered but were out manoeuvred by two junior NCO's who had passed their pin checks and laid aimed fire into the Fedayeen with devastating effect while others who passed protected the Marines' position from close assault. The rest of the Marines quickly recovered from the pins and followed up once a head count was done to see if everyone was OK.

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.

foxweasel04 May 2017 3:07 p.m. PST

Cheers Jack, I did my first Afghanistan tour Feb – May 02 as well. Not a lot happening in our AO at the time though, yours sounds better.

Wolfhag04 May 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

That's a great point about "self-suppression". Why be on the losing end of a firefight when you know mortars, smart bombs or a tank is on the way. Take a smoke break and get your Go-Pro ready for some good video.

Mark 1,
I agree the "pinning" is somewhat psychological and voluntary. Some of the studies agree. You can always move if it's vital, berserko, or for pro-survival, like pulling back. If your Squad Leader puts a pistol in your face and says move out most likely you'll get real motivated.

Personally, that's why I like the rule from the old Enola Games "G.I. Commander" that uses an Aggressiveness Rating to move under fire.

From what I recall of my experience (from the last Millenium)the Squad Leader gave each team (3) an area/frontage of fire responsibility. You didn't want everyone firing into one area. This is firefight discipline 101. I forget exactly what we called it. The Team Leaders made sure you were putting out 12-15 rounds per minute to keep firepower superiority. If the enemy increased their ROF you increased yours. Squad Leaders observe and order, not normally taking part in extended firefights.

My introduction to this "concept" was when I was told to fire into a tree line. So I looked for a target and didn't see any so held my fire (I came from the competitive shooting environment). My Squad Leader asked me why I was not firing. I said I didn't see a target. He then kicked me in the ass and told me to fire my weapon. Then I understood the concept. However, when I would see a target I'd aim and squeeze at it.

So is the above example suppressive fire, blind fire, area fire, covering fire or aimed fire? Does it matter what you call it? I don't think so. It's all about the VOLUME and of course accuracy, accuracy being within 3-5 feet of the enemy whether you can see him or not. If he is sticking his head up eventually you'll hit him. Your Squad Leader is observing the effects of your fire and the enemy return fire. If he spots an exposed or juicy target he'll identify it for you to "aim" at.

The British WO study said a section with a Bren gun could expect to generate about 1% per minute causalities against an enemy defensive position. Degrading the enemy ability to fight back is much greater than generating causalities.

When shooting at the enemy the "intent" is always to kill/injure him. The rapidity of near misses will degrade his effectiveness to a greater or lesser extent (call it suppression, neutralization or whatever) forcing him to spend more time ducking and less time shooting back. The more times he ducks the less chance of becoming a causality. If he ducks more and shoots less you've most likely achieved firepower superiority. Call it suppression or whatever you like.

When a bullet whips past your ear, throws up dust in front of you or branches are falling on you, it is hard to ignore
and carry on business as usual, but some guys can do it.

Also, studies have shown the suppressive effects of small arms fire is temporary and troops will rapidly recover when the shooting stops or they are out of the enemy LOS.


foxweasel04 May 2017 3:37 p.m. PST

Rod, from our point of view a position/unit can be fully suppressed. I'll use a basic section attack as the best example. An 8 man section comes under effective fire from an unidentified position to their front, they go to ground as to carry on would mean taking casualties (I suppose you could call this pinning) After locating the enemy, by various different methods, the section commander decides it is just one position with 1 or 2 enemy dug in. The section commander decides he will assault the position and carry on with his mission. Now is the time that he directs all of the section to rapid fire onto the enemy. Once he's happy that no enemy fire is coming back and the enemy are fully suppressed he will direct one fire team to carry on suppressing while the other assaults the position. The assaulting team will break down into pairs then individuals slowly adding to the fire until the assaulting man/pair grenades/bayonets the enemy.
What I'm getting at here is the suppression from the enemy point of view. Imagine being in a trench having a shot at a few people advancing towards you (maybe you've been badly positioned) they all go to ground and you fire a bit more. Suddenly it seems the whole world is shooting at you, to be under that weight of effective fire is going to limit your choices to just sitting at the bottom of your trench. The fire slackens off but not enough to allow you to raise your head or fire your weapon. This is what we mean by being fully suppressed, there's no snapping out of it.
Of course that was a very simplistic scenario, but it's one that most western infantry soldiers will recognise from training

awalesII04 May 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

Best thread I've read in while.

If done well, a solid definition of pin and suppress can allow for fire and move tactics. When you have this then you have the modern battle field.

In my opinion, pin and suppress shouldn't really require dice rolls. A sniper (professional or just an unseen rifleman), an mg team, or a squad can pin another squad. A squad in good cover (not just concealment but good solid cover) will take more -- but not a random amount (2x, 3x, ..).

Once pinned, another bad thing like flanking fire, cross fire, another mg team, sniper fire, … is enough to turn pin to suppress.

Lack of fire allows a pinned or suppressed squad to immediately be free.

The die roll comes in for the truly random things like casualties. If you are in the open and I fire on you then we KNOW you will be pinned but there is a small chance that you receive a casualty. After you've been pinned and you continue to receive fire then you will stay pinned and have a much smaller chance (everyone's is behind cover now) of casualty.

Another die roll comes in when a squad receives a casualty. Everyone's happy to do their job until someone dies.

Third die roll is to get squads to do what they don't want to do; un-suppress or un-pin while under fire. un-suppress allows your squad to fire back. un-pin would allow you to move (or move like action) -- but at cost of higher chance of casualty.

The texture and detail come in with how many squads does it take to pin a squad in cover, how many squads (or how close to squads have to be) to allow an mg team to pin more than one squads, etc..

Rod I Robertson04 May 2017 3:54 p.m. PST


That assumes that all of the enemy fired at your advancing section. What happens when a third and fourth hostile 25 meters away from the first pair held their fire and open up with close range enfilade fire on our fire team which is winkling up to the spotted position? Then the enemy is not fully suppressed and your section is in deeper poop than it initially appreciated. It's what you don't know that often kills you.

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.

foxweasel04 May 2017 4:06 p.m. PST

Rod, I did say it's a very simplistic scenario. If a section commander believes it is more than 1 or 2 men he won't assault, he'll make a new plan, be it wait for the rest of the platoon or withdraw. If he decides to assault and more enemy pop up, he'll make a new plan or be dead and the 2 I/C in the suppressing fire team will attempt to put enough fire down on all enemy positions to enable any survivors to withdraw. Stop trying to complicate my easy to follow examples😁 or I'll go full company attack straight out of the pamphlet on you!😁😁

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5