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"Sewers and tunnels in urban areas? " Topic

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World War Two on the Land

804 hits since 27 Sep 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Apache 627 Sep 2018 6:41 p.m. PST

Has anyone got a good suggestion on how to handle subsurface movement in urban areas? I think there might be rules for Stalingrade…, that could be adapted?

ISIS and their ilk have used basements and sewer systems and purpose built tunnels to move under cover. In Afghanistan at least one "jail break" was the result of tunneling. I'm thinking this might have to have to be a one off rule.

- For less developed areas, (Iraq, Syria…) I'm thinking that the defender should be given a few entrances (which would also function as bunkers(?)) and a certain length of tunnels and these should be placed before the game. The enemy player might know about the existence of them or might not.

- In more urban areas (major cities in Europe and North Africa…) The underground tunnels, infrastructure and sewer systems could be known to one side or both.

- I'm thinking of a couple of options, either about modeling the 'subsurface' areas on a separate table that would remain covered by a blanket until it
comes into play (most likely better for urban areas with significant subsurface areas). Alternate for 'rural' areas would likely only have the entrances marked. (or could there be 'assemply areas' and caches hidden as well?

In both cases units should be able to move at the same 'speed' that they move inside buildings, but they are unable to be spotted by conventional sights, night vision or even thermal sights, unless they occupy entrances.


McWong7327 Sep 2018 7:30 p.m. PST

Have fixed exit points on the table, number them, and have the player mark down which exit point the unit will emerge from. Limit the pososible exits based on movement, i.e if the unit spends one turn moving underground then they canonly emerge from X or Y, two turns X Y or Z, and so on.

Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2018 7:54 p.m. PST

"In both cases units should be able to move at the same 'speed' that they move inside buildings"

I disagree. Not all sewers are built the same way throughout. So, besides the usual water obstacles, such as unexpected dips in the floor of the flooded areas, a war torn town/city sewer will have collapsed areas, gas buildups, jagged debris and even obstacles purposely placed below the waterline by the various factions against encroachment by other factions.

All these things will have a potential effect on movement. At times the going could be very slow and tight, comparable to that of our "tunnel rats" in Vietnam.

I could be wrong of course but, because of the tight space and limited exit options every step of the way not to mention the very real possibility of getting lost down there because positioning equipment might not work properly below ground -, I really doubt that making your way through those subterranean "catacombs" and labyrinths would be the same as simply traveling inside hallways in a building above ground.


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2018 8:12 p.m. PST

Squad Leader board game, Cross of Iron expansion, the Stalingrad scenarios had rules for that. I don't remember exactly what they were, but I remember that they worked well.

Should be trackable on teh internets.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 6:57 a.m. PST

An actual "rat war" engagement, conducted entirely underground, is going to behave a lot like a traditional dungeon crawl.

But if your primary concern is a surface battle, I'd just distribute exit points--mostly manhole covers with the odd building with basement or subway exit. The "native" player might (or might not) have a map showing which of these connect, which the "invading" player lacks. Movement between underground points should always have a random element, though: there are floods, collapses, bad surfaces and people take wrong turns in the dark.

Now, for a solo game, the player takes the surface world invaders, and has to continually check exit points or have defenders randomly pop up from them. But he doesn't have enough troops and time to check and guard everything, which is what makes it a game.

DyeHard28 Sep 2018 8:23 a.m. PST

Here is a discussion of sewer movement rules within the Squad Leader board game context:

It is a function of your time base for the movement rules. SL/ASL is pretty abstract.

The basic rule: Get to a manhole take an entire move to enter, take an entire move to move to next manhole, take an entire move to get out and back on surface. In SL/ASL there are multiple moves possible for a unit in each turn. It is an intricate turn sequence.

I do not recall rules for engagement while in the sewers, but ASL has so many expansions it may be covered in there. I will try and look it up tonight.

Only after writing this up did I see that Cacique Caribe already linked to this.

Andy ONeill28 Sep 2018 9:05 a.m. PST

Like mouse holing, the advantage of sewer movement is/has been largely about a small force turning up in an unexpected place.

Double blind could work well.
Way back in the day, we played starship troopers vs bugs in tunnels using double blind.

You could abstract the tunnels away to varying degrees. The ASL approach being one. Spawn points marked on a map is another.

Oberlindes Sol LIC28 Sep 2018 10:32 a.m. PST

I think that the Squad Leader rules are a very good place to start. It looks like the writers did the research and thought the problems through.

I adapted the Squad Leader rules to StarGrunt II with pretty good results.

Dragon Gunner28 Sep 2018 1:00 p.m. PST

At the Fort Bragg MOUT site several troopers suffocated in the sewer system due to a smoke grenade being deployed in a confined area. The sewer was made off limits after that incident. Just something to bear in mind if you write your own rules.

Dragon Gunner28 Sep 2018 1:15 p.m. PST

At the Fort Bragg MOUT site several troopers suffocated in the sewer system due to a smoke grenade being deployed in a confined area, it was made off limits after that incident. Just something to bear in mind if you write your own rules.

Apache 628 Sep 2018 3:18 p.m. PST

Thanks to everyone for the answers.

Agree with Cacique Carib that movement needs to be slowed and somewhat unpredictable/random.

Lion in the Stars28 Sep 2018 3:22 p.m. PST

Batman minis game does it the easiest way: You roll dice to determine how many entrances to place (can be placed anywhere, even on top of buildings) and movement is from any entrance to any entrance.

Apache 629 Sep 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

I'm thinking that assuming the defenders know the tunnels/subsurface areas, they might be allowed to move more freely then others who are exploring.

Also think that there are two very different aspects, one would be skirmish level were the tunnels and basesments would be fully build out and that would be the game.

Other would be as a rules addition to a larger scale game (I normally play Combined Arms) where the entry and exit points would be mapped as per squad leader.

UshCha29 Sep 2018 2:20 p.m. PST

I think this is how I would do it. It will need some pre-game work.

Draw up the network in a way that the distance between junctions and exit/entrances is defined.

Players then define where they are going too as they enter the tunnel, along with the route and when they arrive (could add a random factor to arrival time ). Obviously if the folk don't know they only see what they explore. When one side emerges they are seen and shot at there options are to try and get out or go somewhere else. Put a disorganization time in so when they are just about out is the optimum to shoot at them.
Note once in there is no change of route allowed.

When one emerges check enemy routes and times. If they meet even if its prior to the current time fight it out at this time. Then let them decide what to do. Undergound there will be no communication and so if a fight develops it will delay both parties so the time disconnect works in everybody's favor.

While getting lost and lots of random elements look attractive if the game only lasts say 4 bounds you need to allow the unit to be out in say two bounds otherwise its pointless.

Even in a 10 bound game like ours with faster than normal movement you could end up making it so slow as to be an unattractive tactical solution if you are not careful, so then nobody does it.

Cacique Caribe29 Sep 2018 6:48 p.m. PST

And let's not forget the CHUD!







Personal logo DuckanCover Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2018 10:26 p.m. PST

"And let's not forget the CHUD!"

Little blast from the past there… grin thumbs up


Murvihill30 Sep 2018 11:38 a.m. PST

I wouldn't over-engineer it.
1. Mark manhole locations (or simply assign exits in a grid pattern the intersection of every foot from a board corner).
2. Player sends soldiers into hole, writes down where he wants them to end up, calculates turns based on half-walking movement rate.
3. At half of determined time player rolls dice with modifiers for troop quality and time underground. Options for results include 1. not yet, 2. arrives, 3. arrives but in wrong location. 4. bumps into enemy unit (if they have some in sewers). 5. lost forever.

For example, 2d6 die roll, first roll 2-8 not yet, 9,10 wrong location, 11, 12 arrives, 13+ lost forever. on doubles they meet the enemy, +1 per turn, veteran troops may move the number by one.

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