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"A possible solution to a Reconnisance Scenario" Topic

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World War Two on the Land

1,235 hits since 26 Aug 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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UshCha26 Aug 2018 10:49 a.m. PST

I thought this may be of interest to some of the AFV players as a background for creating your own scenarios. Please note if you are a "Just put them down and have at'em" type this is most certainly not for you. In addition its probably only of interest to 15mm players or smaller due to the area that needs to be represented. We played at 1/144 scale on an 8f by 6 ft board playing between the 8 ft sides.

In any reconnaissance game where the object is to prevent/screen/get through/spot the enemy, depending on which side you are on the problem is that it is often easiest for the defender to deploy at his end of the board as there is where there is the least complication.

Now in the photo below I have represented in a very crude form, a road map of 6 road junctions. In this design it's possible to observe enemy moving through the Junction network in 6 different ways( noted on the picture). However only three junctions need to be observed to see all traffic/block the route for all vehicles traveling on the roads across the board. This makes defending the end of the board a poor solution and hence is much better than saying that the defender must deploy "X" distance from his table edge.

The diagrammatic junction picture


Obviously you need to bend the roads a bit for an actual scenario and add your own scenery. This must be placed so that observation of all the nodes from one place is not possible. In addition as there should always be a time limit (bound or end of the session) and the players must be encouraged to spend most of the time on the road as it should be the quickest way of covering the ground. In our own game the roads were classed as ditched on both sides and so it was slow to get off the road and had some risk of becoming temporarily stuck, both adding time pressure.

To complicate matters we included the brown tracks which were unsuitable for vehicles over 5 ton, all the vehicles used were well over 5 ton, but it adds interest and more importantly more hedges to discourage excessive off road movement.

Our Game


It's a bit Spartan but time at the club was reduced as we were running late due to traffic issues.

In our own game the attacker had 4 pairs of recon vehicles and a Platoon of infantry with a couple of tanks in support. The defender has a platoon with APC's or trucks to defend/observe the network.

The scenario was written with Maneouvre Group rules in mind. I see no reason that this would not translate to other rules. However not all rules will be suitable. The critical issues are:-

1 This is for a 1 to 1 set of rules with a ground scale ideally be around 1mm=1m or it is in very dense terrain, but then vehicles may be too vulnerable unless the infantry on the defensive is VERY short of anti-tank weapons.
2 The field of view of the AFV's must vary between Buttoned up and un-buttoned.
3 The speed of movement needs to be such that you can comfortably get across the board in less than half the time you allotted for the game.
4 Troops Defending are not required to shoot at seen enemy and may do so when they want to (within reason).
5 The AFV crews must be capable of dismounting for local reconnaissance on foot and probably have an hand held anti-vehicle weapon in the vehicle that can be used if in defense/screening

This is most definitely a demanding game and not suitable for most beginners as it needs a basic understanding of the tactics of the period you wish to play. However to us it gave an insight into what it's all about. I considered I failed as really I only took up a holding position and sent in the covering platoon not really having discovered and significant enemy. There may not have been enough to justify calling in the re-enforcement's.

There were no direct victory conditions the whole thing is about playing, it became obvious after we finished that I had failed, but lessons hopefully learnt and next wee we swap sides to se if Paul can do better.

In presenting this scenario I hope it has given some insight as to how game theory can help design plausible, interesting and challenging scenarios that let you use there recon in a more credible way. Comments welcome as always.

Winston Smith26 Aug 2018 4:50 p.m. PST

Will you PLEASE knock off the "My way of gaming is superior to yours" crap.
Second sentence!
No wonder nobody takes you seriously.
Give it a rest and try to not be so condescending, if you are capable of it.

Winston Smith26 Aug 2018 4:52 p.m. PST

Why not just try " I like to embrace all the relevant, to me, details."
And leave it at that.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Aug 2018 6:38 p.m. PST

Winston, he was just giving fair warning… grin

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2018 7:58 p.m. PST

I enjoy your write-up, thoughts, and pics.

Thanks for sharing.

MiniPatton26 Aug 2018 9:39 p.m. PST

I found it interesting, thanks for sharing.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2018 9:53 p.m. PST

UshCha is one of the better contributors and I know his style and what to expect and ignore, after all, he's British isn't he?

When he tells me what I can, need to, must, must not, can't, should or shouldn't do I generally filter them out. I expect there are a number of people that find my posts wordy and tedious. Too bad (ha, ha)

His thought-provoking posts (whether I agree with him or not) have helped me in re-examing and developing my set of rules. I have a set of his rules which are very much along the lines of mine so I'm always interested in what he has to say but we generally disagree on the exact solutions – which is OK because we both take a different approach to solve the same problems. We have a good discussion with no name calling.

Maybe he should change his TMP handle to "My way of gaming is superior to yours".

Keep the posts coming UshCha!


deephorse26 Aug 2018 11:54 p.m. PST

after all, he's British isn't he?

What does that have to do with anything? I'm British and I don't know anyone with an attitude to wargaming similar to his. I'm with Winston on this, just present your ideas without talking down to those of us that just want to have some fun with our hobby. At least the rules that I use don't compel me to drive my own tank into a canal because the commander was looking elsewhere.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2018 11:56 p.m. PST

It was an inside joke, I correspond offline with him, I'm a Yank. Sense of humor?

Drive into a ditch? It happens: link


UshCha27 Aug 2018 1:35 a.m. PST

deephorse I wrote the intro so you would not have to waste your time. I am aware you have a widely diffrent opinion on what is entertaing (which is OK by me).

Getting sombody who is not interested in in such things to readthough what is in effect a discussion on applied game theory seemed unsporting. Hence the introduction.

Driving ino a ditch is my kind of "friction" and no die throws required. Each to their own.

GreenLeader27 Aug 2018 5:17 a.m. PST

I've got no dog in the fight, and don't see that the opening post was 'talking down' to anyone. I imagine everyone is aware that there are lots of different ways to enjoy wargaming, and that (to my mind) was all he was basically saying.

Personal logo Private Matter Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2018 5:49 a.m. PST

Nice game. Thanks for the write up. While many of my games are "Just put them down and have at'em" games due to the annoying habit of work interfering with the time it takes to prep for a good scenario based game, I really enjoy games that reflect "real-life" contingencies. I find games that are evenly matched as boring or even more boring than completely one-sided games.

Some of my favorite 'modern' scenarios are delaying scenarios. The last one I played like that entailed a USMC LAR platoon holding a cross roads against a Russian armored company with accompanying infantry. To determine the 'victor' the Russians started with 10 points and the Marines 0. For every turn past turn three that the Marines held they got one victory point and the Russians lost one point. I ran the game as the umpire. The player who ran the Marines was a Sergeant in the Marines and the two players controlling the Russians were both Lieutenants (albeit one was a rotor-head). The game turned out to be a draw, even with Russian casualties being rather high.

uglyfatbloke27 Aug 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

Nice idea on victory points Private matter.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2018 7:06 a.m. PST

I've been toying with the same type of idea, something like a strategic pre-game scenario to simulate shaping operations in a 1:1 reinforced company level game.

The attacker has a choice of a Hasty Assault against a Hasty Defense or a Prepared Assault against a Prepared Defense. Prepared Assaults/Defense will give more chances for battalion and regiment level assets and artillery and a better chance for reinforcements. Hasty Assaults/Defense will have less recon, less chance for higher level attachments and reinforcements. Prepared Defense will give more chances for prepared man-made defensive positions and tactical reserves.

Hasty Assaults will have a 2:1 superiority and will have a greater chance for vehicle mechanical failures (all vehicles have a mechanical reliability rating of poor, fair or good). So if the Germans have 12 Panthers in their OOB in a Hasty Assault only about 40% will take part. A Prepared Assault 60% (players rolls % dice to make the determination so that's an average). Shermans would be Hasty 80% and Prepared 90%.

Prepared gets better pre-game recon, air support, and pre-assault bombardment results than Hasty with a 3:1 force level superiority.

Meeting Engagements are mostly between the leading elements which would normally be recon and light vehicles with a 1:1 ratio and no mechanical failure checks (units are already moving up front). An Exploitation scenario would be a mobile exploitation force against some reserves and rear area units. The force level advantage would be variable.

So a player will start with a defined OOB but not all of the units will arrive on the table. Some will be left behind because of poor maintenance, environmental conditions, poor C&C, etc. It's still a WIP but I hope to make scenarios more interesting and starting forces unknown. I too find known forces in an even scenario somewhat boring.


RudyNelson27 Aug 2018 7:21 a.m. PST

As an Armored Cavalry Officers, I conducted many types of Recon operations. The most common exercise was the evaluation of Bridges and roads to determine how heavy of traffic they can handle.

Now recon as part of an advance to contact or screen operations is not a true recon action.

In almost all cases of a true recon operation, the determination for the end of the operation is a time (game turn limit) limit. The gathered information must be placed in a format and sent to higher command or to the S2, intel, of the units you are attached to.

UshCha27 Aug 2018 7:31 a.m. PST

Wolfhag, if there are free copies around Phil Barker's 1925 to 1950 had something like that in it.

More generally do you folk like to play "none standard" games. I must admit we never really do victory points. Mainly it's a scenario and that's it. You play to the task in hand with the forces defined. Usually you know who had the best time after the game, if it was a good one nobody can claim to have had more fun,, caused more looks of fear or terror. The aim is always entertainment/ a puzzle to be solved or a tactic to be explored win or lose.

Is there interest in me posing other puzzles/games?

Personal logo Private Matter Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2018 8:02 a.m. PST

UglyFatBloke – the victory points idea was blatantly stolen from another game and not my own idea.

UshCha – I only use the victory points idea to reflect the strategic value to the higher operational command of each unit of either a quick break through or a delayed advance.

I am always interested in hearing about different scenarios (as well fun games).

donlowry27 Aug 2018 9:20 a.m. PST

1. I found the original post informative and interesting, and of possible use in my gaming.

2. I did not perceive it as talking down to me, but then, I'm not of the "just put 'em down…" etc. persuasion.

3. I was more offended by Winston's reaction. It seems part of the modern trend to be offended at the drop of a hat. (Sorry if that offends people who drop hats.)

4. As for point systems, I don't usually use 'em, but in one on-line game I used the following victory-point system:

The point value of the units (vehicles/men) you use count as victory points for the other side; and they count again if you lose them. You are then free to choose your units out of what is available for the time/place. The more you choose the better you have to do to offset the points your are giving the other side.

Say you choose a platoon of 4 Panthers worth (oh, say) 10 points each. You just gave the other side 40 victory points. In the battle you lose 2 of them, so you just gave him another 20 victory points. You better have accomplished quite a bit to make that worthwhile. (IIRC, I also made controlling certain landmarks worth some victory points.)

Naturally, in that game, both sides stocked up on the best units available, human nature being what it is. I was hoping one side, at least might go minimalist in order to hold down the costs. But no.

Winston Smith27 Aug 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

3. I was more offended by Winston's reaction. It seems part of the modern trend to be offended at the drop of a hat. (Sorry if that offends people who drop hats.)

Ok. I thought I was done here. I am not desperately in search of something to be offended by.
I am reacting to a clear pattern by UshCha where he actively sneers at gamers who wish to enjoy themselves, wish to play a game, and can't be bothered to indulge in the false "realism" of piling strange and irrelevant details on a "simulation". It's the "You are playing with toy soldiers incorrectly" Syndrome.
He does it in 75% of all threads he starts.
You look at one sentence in one thread, you don't see it.
My reaction was not to a random sentence. It was to a whole pattern of condescension that he seems unable to not do.
I don't care how or what he plays. Just don't rub my nose in how inferior you think I am.
I take nothing back. I meant what I said.

nickinsomerset27 Aug 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

RECCE is difficult to game as the whole point is to gather information and report it, so really by the time of most games the RECCE will have moved off onto another task, not act as another Sabre Sqn as happens with some rules.

The scenario above is quite viable with the recce acting as a cover screen, all the while heading back to it's own baseline.

Still it is all a game and some like to use their recce as another Sabre formation ambushing from the famous hedges so abundant on the Hanover plain!

Tally Ho!

John Secker27 Aug 2018 1:05 p.m. PST

I agree. He was simply indicating the type of wargamer who would be interested in his ideas, and I didn't get any sense that he was denigrating other types, just describing them. He also indicated that it wouldn't suit people using larger scales. No reason to take offence, just say "oh well, not for me" and move on.

Joe Legan27 Aug 2018 2:03 p.m. PST

I get where you are coming from; depending on my mood it can tork me off as well. That said, I approach it like Wolfhag. If you can get through his style of presentation he almost always has thought provoking points. He has caused me to rethink several things in my own gaming. ( Haven't changed anything but I have had to rethink them!)
Could he be more open minded in discussions? Sure but that goes for 90% of people here. Few people post here without their egos involved. ( I was one of them for 3 years. If you look at my posts back then I could be unkind I am embarrassed to say.)

Very informative post. Thanks.


Lee49427 Aug 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

Sad. So sad. Very sad indeed. Cheers!

RudyNelson27 Aug 2018 3:37 p.m. PST

During the Division Restructuring Tests of the 1st Cavalry Division in the late 1970s and early 1980s, developing alternative missions for different elements was a constant exercise.

Even when I transferred from the Armored Cavalry to Quartermaster, loss of hearing, i got pulled into the rear area security needs to stop Soviet breakthroughs and disruptive rear area insertion operations.
It was viewed that a better use of the Armored cavalry after of defensive screens would be to redeploy them as security for supply routes and supply dumps as well as HQs. The cohesion rate of armored cavalry was set at 50% or less as dropping screens to the main battle line.
Therefore if you are talking small unit actions, there are plenty of scenarios for recon units.
If you are talking about traditional pre-operation recons scenario, the tracing assault lines, locating enemy positions, deterring NBC/CBR contaminated locations, classifying bridges, and other none hostile activity activities would be common.
Being pre-operation defensive screen action include ambush sites, mine including claymores of dead zone protected areas, etc.
Active defensive screen actions would be touch and go with enemy scout units and the constant enemy use of artillery. one task would be to try to funnel the enemy into taking routes of advance which would be the most advantageous for the defenders.
Traditional post contact withdrawal operations would be to conduct flank security or act as a lynch pin between units. All depends on the percent of combat functional elements still left to the unit. The need to resupply the units is one reason QM commanders opted for the transfer of control to them.

Legion 428 Aug 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

I went thru Recon training in a number of courses/schools. But Recon was generally to observe & report. Be a "ghost". However like any patrolling in can rapidly change. And we were trained for those missions as well. E.g.:

Calling in fire on a target, which is a standard for any mission if other than but including Recon.

Set up an ambush(s)


Looking for a weak point and then possibly exploit it. Depending on the size of your unit you may need more forces to do this effectively …

Mech & Tank Recon Plts in those Bns were organized with 3 M113s and 3 M901s. The 901s were there to get you out of trouble, i.e. break contact, etc., if need be. But if you go tank hunting with a Mech/Armor Recon Plt alone, even with FA, CAS, etc. support, you may just be looking for trouble.

Before my Mech Bn got the Sct Plt in the ROK. '84-'85 got the M113s & M901. It had @ 7 M151 Jeeps. They would not look for trouble, just observe, report and call in fires in need be. They'd also do dismounted recon if the situation called for it. But those Jeeps were not armed with .50s like we saw in WWII. They dismounted had M60s, M203s, etc.

At one point in the 101, in the early 80s. Our Bn Sct Plt[dismounted] also had @ 7 Kawasaki[250 ?] dirt bikes. Some of them did carry M47 MAWs. But that was more for getting out of trouble … Not Tank Hunting … Just like the M901s in the Sct Plt of Mech/Armor Bns. Back then … old fart

advocate28 Aug 2018 8:04 a.m. PST

I guess I'm with Wolfhag on this. Sometimes it hacks me off, but it is at least a generic attack and not personal. I can usually cope with it and the posts are at least gaming related.
But let's not talk about pictures of unpainted figures…

nickinsomerset28 Aug 2018 8:46 a.m. PST

Rudy Nelson,

interesting, at Bovington a couple of years ago I put on a 6mm Cold Wargame, one of the Gyros Teller 1986 series. I had a few folks ask why the CVR(T) were escorting a logistic convoy through the town at the rear rather than at the front, fighting!

Tally Ho!

RudyNelson28 Aug 2018 2:02 p.m. PST

Understand the question by them but from a HQ moving the unit makers around can be misleading and result in a weaker defensive line. A unit marker is often viewed as being stronger and capable of fighting better than it really is because it is at 50% combat effective or less.

A historical example of this would be when Hitler was fighting the war pushing unit markers which were actually hollow or depleted units with little combat strength.

So pulling depleted units from the front rather than leaving them there to hinder defensive plans is very logical.

nickinsomerset29 Aug 2018 3:38 a.m. PST

Although in this case they were simply re tasked having fulfilled their recce /screening tasks. Another tasking I recall was providing defence for a Bde HQ, mine!

Tally Ho!

Legion 429 Aug 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

Of course one way is to use "Hidden" counters that represent units and/or are dummy units. But that may require some record keeping …

UshCha29 Aug 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

Leigion 4,
As designed our system allows troops typicaly on table and not yet taken any action save communication to be represented by a marker. This is typically an inconspicuous marker about the size of the unit it represents. Its marked on the underside with a dry wipe marker (minimum paperwork). Of course you also get a dummy of the same size and it adds a lot while making it playable without an umpire.

In this game we used sketch maps to define where the defense was, as it adds more but does require some honesty.

UshCha29 Aug 2018 12:14 p.m. PST

You should never be too definitive. Having played on Monday this scenario, one of our crew who watched the game said he would like to play a version at 1/72 (which I said was unsuitable). However he claimed that the original scenario was far too complex for him, despite there only being a handful of elements each side. So I was tasked with generating a 4 node solution, that only needed 2 nodes defending so can be squeezed onto an 8ft by 6 ft board. I have I think managed this (I hope) but have had to take a few liberties which are:-

a) The general ground is now POOR going so off road is only at maximum in FAST mode (big difference in Maneuver Group)
b) A hill is needed to create dead ground. Roads are good going but no need for hedges and ditches. Including these would have made it an infantry game not combined arms due to it becoming too close range. You could stretching it pass it off as being in moorland close to my home.

So do you have a stylized dead ground in your play? If so I could publish the map. Note however this map is very complex as it notes the effective range of the RPG's being used as 250m (ground scale is 1" to 10m) I know its horrible but hey it works! You could go to 1"=10yds but our rules are in meters.

Legion 429 Aug 2018 3:59 p.m. PST

Of course you also get a dummy of the same size and it adds a lot while making it playable without an umpire.
Yes, before contact intel is rarely 100%. Even after contact, it still may not be clear as well.

capt jimmi31 Aug 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

Love it !

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 8:30 p.m. PST

I always thought of recon as "snoop & poop". I'd rather sit back and call in air strikes and artillery (if lucky naval gunfire) than risk getting shot at. When my son was young he asked me what the most powerful weapon on the battlefield was. I told him a radio because you can call in arty, air strikes and evacs. He listened to me and chose a SigInt MOS. Modern technology will allow you to identify a target in a specific room in a house for a snatch or drone strike.

I think the best way to start is looking at recon operations:

I see most of these as pre-game activities that can shape the scenario and I find have a lot of potential for decisions, strategy, and tactics that would be outside a skirmish scenario. Recon in Force and recon in the tip of an advance for a meeting engagement scenario would fit best into the games we mostly play. Route, Zone and Area Recon would be good for solo games somewhat randomly generating enemy units during the advance to engage, bypass or call in artillery. This would generate recon vs recon scenarios. Don't overlook HumInt as a pre-game activity to identify defenders.

In a typical game recon units could be put on the edge of the battlefield to detect in advance enemy units attempting to outflank and then conduct a fighting withdraw. They could also be behind the main line of advance as a QRF/Reserve/Exploitation force.

Of course, having cheap armored cars advance about 1000-1500m in front of the main force would identify anti-tank guns and emplacements by getting close enough or forcing them to give away their positions by opening fire on the scouts.

The Russians were very good at infiltrating infantry and medium-sized weapons behind German lines and hit their rear when the main attack begins. A recon screen should be able to stop it. Recon intercepting infiltrating units at night could make for an interesting scenario full of ambushes.


Lion in the Stars04 Sep 2018 5:46 a.m. PST

I know my favorite Flames of War WW2 army is the Soviet Engineer-Sapper battalion, with a Sapper Spetsnaz platoon to allow me to infiltrate a full company of sappers quite close to the enemy. Within move and assault range if there is Concealing Terrain, and the edge of rifle range if not. Surprise!

Legion 404 Sep 2018 11:00 a.m. PST

I always thought of recon as "snoop & poop". I'd rather sit back and call in air strikes and artillery (if lucky naval gunfire) than risk getting shot at.
That is the way I preferred it ! evil grin

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