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"Rallying" Topic

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931 hits since 3 Dec 2018
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UshCha03 Dec 2018 3:46 a.m. PST

It interesting that in the revision of our rules some interesting debates have surfaced that did not seem to be an issue 10 years ago. Having said that our knowledge and reading has increased over the years so perhaps its not that supprising that someting is up for debate.

So Ralleying.

In the real world does it happen very often And what is it?

a) a bit of a pep talk to the troops after a really tough fight to pep up there morale and stiffen their resolve.
b) Trying to get troops to stop running after they have had enough either being overun or just had to much artillery, smallarms ans too little sleep that they have finaly come to the limit and just had to leave.
c) All or none of these.

Does it happen:-
1) on the front line
2) well out of the way of the enemy.
3) at a pre determined point.

The only real description I have run into is in the book Company Commander and that would to me seem to be (b) (2) and not at any defined point except out of the way of the emeny. The guys having just reached and passed breaking point.

Again I am not interested in what other folks rules do, I am interested in what you have experienced, been taught, or read and interpreted. Rules can only be as good as your understanding of the real world you are modelling and in this one I belatedly realise I may not have enough of an understanding of the real world.

Andy ONeill03 Dec 2018 5:05 a.m. PST

I think it depends on what rallying means specifically. In your rules.

Say a unit is assaulting, morale fails and they fall back.
They will almost certainly keep going until out of effective direct fire. They then frequently stop if they aren't being pursued. This is often described as withdrawing to cover but I think it's just withdrawing to a safe area or point.
If the unit perceives threat from a pursuer then they won't stop at the first piece of cover. They keep on going to safety.

It would be a very highly motivated unit that then turns round and assaults again without some leader gathering them together and ordering them about. Ninja elites like Commandoes etc might do that but regular units would take some time settling down and whatnot before they're prepared to go take 30% casualties again.
Most accounts I can think of that next go is likely the next day.
Rorke's drift is very unusual in that Zulu repeatedly assaulted, broke and widthdrew to the garden area. Very highly motivated. Also interesting in that the garden is very close to the defenders.

If that unit is instead a defending unit which is dug in then they are more likely to be "neutralised" and down in their holes rather than running. If whatever danger passes then they could well settle down and become effective again.
Most ww2 forces were very reliant on leadership to be effective. Sitting in a bunker pulling the trigger on a machine gun needs a lot less motivation than running up beach towards it though.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2018 7:36 a.m. PST

We cover a lot of ground with "rallying." I was spared the experience, but evidently it's a common thing in modern war--that is, WWI and later--for a unit to rally on the objective after a successful assault, with the highest-ranking surviving officer regrouping the survivors into viable units, redistributing ammunition, assigning defensive sectors or settling on the next objective. We're talking here probably company or battalion-level. Maybe down to platoon or up to regiment, depending on the war and the army.

In reverse, a unit driven from a defensive position, or a unit failing to take one, usually has a "rally point" of some sort, with much the same things taking place: the three survivors of 2nd Squad are reassigned to 3rd Squad, the mortarmen who no longer have a mortar become riflemen and so forth. In both cases, it's probably going to go faster and involve a higher percentage of the survivors in well-trained veteran units.

Rallying retreating soldier who are just going back--no longer in a chain of command--is more difficult and time-consuming. A commander has to set up a "straggler line" out of direct fire. What I read from a soldier involved in trying to do such during the Bulge was that there was no tactical point in stopping individual stragglers. They'd just leave again at the first opportunity. They had to be rounded up by MPs or such, fed, warmed, dried and put into units before they'd be any use--more time than we'd have in a miniatures game. But even a unit as small as a fire team, if it were still a unit with someone in charge, could be halted at the next line of resistance and put back into combat. Mind you, a defensive position composed of such would have very little capacity to maneuver, and probably less firepower than the number of men and units would indicate. Ammunition would be low and poorly distributed, and heavy weapons are lost early in a retreat.

Hope this helps.

khanscom03 Dec 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

From FMFM 6-5: Marine Rifle Squad:

"A rallying point is a place where a patrol can assemble and reorganize. It should provide cover and concealment, be defensible for at least a short time, and be easily recognized and known to all patrol members."

"The patrol leader plans the actions to be taken at the rallying points and instructs the patrol accordingly. At the initial rallying point and rallying points en route, he provides for the continuation of the patrol as long as there is a reasonable chance to accomplish the mission…"

A number of rallying points are selected along the route of advance. Contingencies are described allowing for the loss of the patrol leader (chain-of-command is indicated)or wide dispersal of the patrol. The principles described should be appropriate for larger scale games as well.

mwindsorfw03 Dec 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

UC: Yes to all of your questions.

It can mean "Get up and get moving," for a squad, or "Defend the flag," in older days. It can also mean an officer gathering troops who have routed or withdrawn, and turning them into a cohesive unit. It can also be a predetermined "rally point," where possibly supplies and some sort of rest are waiting. It seems like you've thought this through pretty well.

One note. I'm not sure it's "rallying," but there is also the aspect of a good sargent keeping the troops in line (literally or figuratively) and functioning. In some games, that might be rallying or removing shock. Either way, it's a vital function.

advocate03 Dec 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

Zulus had indunas who motivated them to continue the attack: consider the incident recorded from Isandlwhana where they Zulus were pinned down, but returned to the attack when motivated by a leader who reminded them of their promises made in the kraal. The attack restarted although the leader was shot.
[OT: Now I write this I am strongly remined of Dark Age warriors being castigated for not living up to the boasts they made in the mead hall].

Joe Legan03 Dec 2018 9:32 a.m. PST

I think it depends on your scale; both time and troops as some have mentioned In force on force it most often means the sergeant reminding everyone "okay guys, we have to be firing back now"
In large scale games I think it would be very hard to rally a unit leaving the field

mwindsorfw03 Dec 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

In a large scale, 20th Century-era game, I think that "rally" is a matter of having a unit receive replacements and supply, if the time scale allows.

Blutarski03 Dec 2018 11:38 a.m. PST

From my readings in military history, this is yet again a complicated subject. First and foremost, an important starting point would be establishment of clearly agreed definitions of the various terms that will inevitably find their way into the conversation. For example -

What does "forced back" mean?
What does "driven back" mean?
What does "retreat" mean?
What does "withdrawal" mean?
What does "panic" mean?
What does "rout" mean?

Then …..

How might the size of the unit in question affect the rallying process in terms of time and effort?

How does the situation, condition and casualty status of a unit affect the rallying process?

How can it be determined whether or not an historical account has sanitized an event, in the sense that an ignominiously routed element is described as having been "grudgingly forced back" or some other such exculpatory phraseology?

Then there is one of my favorites: those soldiers who individually choose to "opt out" of an action, i.e. stragglers but that is probably another subject altogether.

This discussion is going to be FUN!


foxweasel03 Dec 2018 12:01 p.m. PST

In modern British tactics it is normally a move into a defensive position, e.g a section level patrol is ambushed and scatters, while moving away from the enemy one of the men finds a ditch or crater that can be defended and is out of contact with the enemy. He will call "Rally, Rally, Rally" and any surviving troops will go to that location.

wargamingUSA03 Dec 2018 12:53 p.m. PST

We are 8 months into playtesting a new WWII rules set where a stand equals a platoon. A number of us have military backgrounds.

Our conclusion, at this level of command and concern the consideration is more about reconstitution than rallying; although we use a "rally" order to accomplish the task. This order allows for multiple destroyed (combat ineffective) stands to be consolidated into one combat effective stand that re-enters the action a set distance from the player's overall command stand.

We have also done away with "morale" as a game mechanic, allowing our suppression and forced back mechanics to create a situation where players must decide whether they have the ability to continue in an offensive posture or must become more defensive in-nature, or whether they can continue to defend or need to fall back to survive. (Truth is in many wargames there are players who could care less about being effective combatants or achieving a mission objective and who just want to throw some dice; we can't account for their actions.)

Our withdraw mechanic affords certain advantages that make it a realistic tactical option rather than simply a turn-tale and run mechanic.

Two cents worth.

Skarper03 Dec 2018 2:20 p.m. PST

I applaud the OPs desire to return to first principles rather than copy what other rules have done.

It seems common in modern [post WW1 era] combat to be 'pinned or suppressed'. Troops stop advancing or firing and go to ground. It's relatively easy to recover from this especially if the threat has passed.

A next level might be when troops not only stop advancing but actually try to retreat, or don't just stop firing but abandon their posts.

This obviously happens but is not much covered in the manuals since they don't want to encourage the troops to do this!

That said, it will happen and 'rally points' are part of any plan be it attack or defence.

I think time is a factor. Immediate shock and adrenaline wears off over a few minutes [but may return later]. Also if you are removed from the cause of the morale failure. The wounded have been evacuated or left behind in the advance [standing orders in the ETO was to leave wounded and press on].

I read an excellent article in a Nugget about the volume of fire needed to suppress a target versus the volume needed to keep it suppressed. Key point was that much less is needed for the latter. Just a few rounds passing overhead being enough.

Another thing I think it is worth considering is that many losses can be recovered. An individual can be 'hors de combat' for reasons other than physical. Minor wounds can be patched up on the spot. Psychological casualties can 'snap out of it' and troops busy doing first aid or evacuating casualties can return to the fight if the wounded soldier dies or become stable. Equally they might not. Leadership, training and 'cohesion' will play a part here.

Green units and ones with a high percentage of recent replacements are apt to suffer more from the same objective cause than troops who have long experience as a 'unit'. Equally, units with no old sweats might be less prone to being pinned down under fire.

Oberlindes Sol LIC03 Dec 2018 3:12 p.m. PST

What's all this about rallying men running away from combat? You stop the group, shoot the noisiest one, and order the rest of them to turn around and form a defensive line. Give them weapons if you have to, give them an objective, and send them back into action. Simple enough, I would think.

UshCha03 Dec 2018 3:55 p.m. PST

WargameingUSA Interesting we do much the same. Following yet another meeting and armed with the information here. many thanks to all the contributors) we have decided to eliminate this section. The troops already have a "recovery period" after an assault so that is covered anyway. To be honest getting dispersed after an ambush just is not practical with multiple based figures. As has been said it takes too long for spent troops to recover so is outside the scope of a single game. Furthermore its not a section we ever seem to use ourselves so eliminating it seems sensible.

Legion 404 Dec 2018 8:15 a.m. PST

Rallying troops can occur in a number of situations. But we see throughout history how and when it happened. As some here have noted. The basic rule we use :

RALLY [roll 2D6] Preformed in End Phase [or equivalent]

Cdr rallies his troops around him, inspiring them with fresh courage, to do their duty, etc., etc.

Success: [Based on scale] one stand, vehicle, unit, etc. is returned to play next to or within Command rule ranges, etc.

Failure: Cdr fails to rally, unable to regroup, etc.

Disaster: Cdr is killed/removed from play. Rally of troops fails.

Roll 2D6
Success: 8+
Failure: 4-7
Disaster: 3 or less

Elite units get +1 to 2D6 …

In the real world does it happen very often And what is it?
a) a bit of a pep talk to the troops after a really tough fight to pep up there morale and stiffen their resolve.
b) Trying to get troops to stop running after they have had enough either being overun or just had to much artillery, smallarms ans too little sleep that they have finaly come to the limit and just had to leave.
c) All or none of these.
Does it happen:-
1) on the front line
2) well out of the way of the enemy.
3) at a pre determined point.

I've said this before, with all the things that can happen in a firefight, etc., it is my opinion to K.I.S.S generally. Without being too complex but at the same time reflect somewhat "accurately"/"realistically" what occurs/can happen, etc. …

c) Is the "right" answer …

1),2),3) … yes … but again K.I.S.S. …

1) Yes, Bleeped text hits the fan and the Cdr/Leader makes it happen.

2) Unit falls back out of enemy fire and Cdr/Leader makes it happen.

3)Yes, it is SOP for units/unit Cdrs/leaders to designate Rally Points while moving along route or while stopped or in hasty or deliberate defensive positions/locations.

Skarper05 Dec 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

I would agree with KISS but favour KISAMP. Keep is simple as much as possible. Lately, rules have become too simple imo. I dont want to go back to the lumbering dinosaurs of the 70s-90s. But neither do i want to just roll dice and move toys around.

As in many thngs, balance is key.

Legion 405 Dec 2018 8:36 a.m. PST

OK … I'd go with that … KISAMP …

I think the system I posted is basically that. It works for us but may not for others.

Note that is not my "System" but one among many we found along the way. Been gaming since the '60s … old fart

Steve Wilcox05 Dec 2018 11:23 a.m. PST

Been gaming since the '60s …

1860s or 1960s? :)

Lion in the Stars05 Dec 2018 2:38 p.m. PST

60BC? evil grin

Legion 405 Dec 2018 4:27 p.m. PST

Yes … evil grin

Joe Legan05 Dec 2018 7:04 p.m. PST

So when you were gaming the roman legions those were current events?


Skarper05 Dec 2018 11:23 p.m. PST

Everybody needs to find their own happy medium between complexity and simplicity.

There are elegant systems that are subtle, reasonably accurate and still workable.

My point is some of the newer systems are too simplistic for my tastes.

UshCha06 Dec 2018 3:45 a.m. PST

Scarper +1

Legion 406 Dec 2018 2:08 p.m. PST

So when you were gaming the roman legions those were current events?
Yes, they were on the TMP Modern Warfare boards … then … old fart

Everybody needs to find their own happy medium between complexity and simplicity.
Yes as I have said many time here. Do what works for you … not me … evil grin

Apache 607 Dec 2018 5:39 p.m. PST

Yes, I think in the real world "rallying" occurs a lot more than some people think. Similarly, I think in the real world units are suppressed, pinned and/or driven to ground far more then most games suggest. It very often happens short of a unit being "broken or disordered."
It's small unit leaders job to Lead (usually by example) which I think many people might include under 'rallying' their units. I'd think that most games reflect that in 'morale checks.' I think most games have too few morale checks to reflect the actual performance of most units.
I've thought that rules that require a morale check for any movement after being fired on. Too often wargames units will assault across open ground and overrun their enemies, without suppressing them. It often ends up being gamy since the Attacker will launce 9 squads in the assault since he knows the defenders can only engage 3 (or whatever) number of enemy individuals/squads. In real life, a company commander would much more likely commit two of his rifle platoons AND his weapons platoon to suppressing while the third rifle platoon maneuvers.

The flip side is this is that in many system defenders do not get suppressed despite having heavy concentrations of fires put on their positions. 155mm artillery and heavy machine gun fire for example. I think defenders should at least get negative modifiers for their fire, I could make strong arguments that they should have to pass a morale check to 'stand too' and fight effectively from the defense. Suppression is a key task for units conducting offensive operation.

That might better reflect reality, it would also likely result in very slow games, which are far more dependent on morale then weapons effect.

Skarper07 Dec 2018 10:59 p.m. PST

Suppression is the main point of fire. You won't kill many if any. But you will keep heads down.

As for gamey rules that let you count the defensive fire and send in more than they could possibly stop. Hmmn. Defensive fire is far more plentiful than many games seem to allow. Nearby units getting pinned down or worse will also tend to make others falter.

Suppression is essential before trying to close with the enemy.

Personally, I don't like this abstracted too much. I want it to be slow, and gritty.

Obviously it depends on the scale and goals of your game.

UshCha08 Dec 2018 12:42 a.m. PST

I have to agree on both the suppression and on defensive fire. One thing that is often missing is either Line (grazing or Graving fire) or Arear fire (at a greater distance)from even Squad level automatic weapons. Most real positions not just occupied have a final defensive fire line so are very effective against mass targets as they shoot aross the front of friends.

I realised that actually Rallying covers a mass of motivational actions. We for instance do make units "remove a suppression" which is I suppose a "Morale" or "Rally" action but we don't use the term.

To me many rules have over used the term "Morale" as an excuse to patch up other failuers in the rules or to throw in stanage events that happed one or twice in a war, so are reported, that then become regular in a wargame.

Legion 408 Dec 2018 2:47 p.m. PST

Suppression is a key task for units conducting offensive operation.
Very much agree. And in some rule system if a unit is taking fire causing suppression.

The unit's return fire is decreased.

This system requires blast markers be place on the unit that is taking the fire.

If a target is hit but not destroyed, the unit gets a blast marker. For each blast marker the units ability to move and/or shoot is reduced and/or the unit is "Pinned Down".

In the end phase or some prefer before next time unit get to shoot or move you roll to remove each blast marker.
which in turn would reflect the unit be "rallied" and no longer suppressed or Pinned.

So in this current conversation we have rallying, morale, and suppression be inherent to the rule system. Which could be all under the same rule paragraph, depending on how the mechanics are reflected.

E.g. If the blast markers are removed the unit can fire/move with no attrition. The unit rallies …

The unit loses e.g. 30% or 50%, etc., the unit must stay under cover or retreat to closes cover[within X many Xs.] If the unit does not rally.

Both those could reflect a unit rallying. After both suppression in turn morale may/are effected.

Usually Rallying, Suppression & Morale are covered separately but can effect one or the other … or both …

capt jimmi09 Dec 2018 3:49 a.m. PST

good discussion !

UshCha09 Dec 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

Legion 4, That was a good sysnopsis of the way we work. hence why we got rid of a section called Rallying in the new issue 2, the other bits were coverd but not by that particular identifier.

Wolfhag09 Dec 2018 6:48 a.m. PST

I agree with khanscom as that's exactly how we did it.

A rally point was a location along a patrol for everyone to fall back on. When performing patrols you normally want to avoid contact unless you are setting up ambushes. So when contact would be made to break contact we'd leapfrog back to the rally point with some lay down suppressive fire and others falling back. You don't see units attempting to break contact in games, do you?

In the jungles of VN recon patrols would use electrical tape to tape a WP grenade to the front of a Claymore (called a Shake & Bake). When being pursued it would be set up and command detonated when the pursuers got too close. It was very effective in breaking contact.

I don't see units "rallying" while in an extended firefight. The "experts" that did the research and wrote papers on suppression state that once a unit is suppressed it only take 1/3 of the firepower to keep him suppressed and units normally recover from the effects of suppression quickly when the shooting slackens or stops. Personally, I don't see that as negative morale or needing to "rally".

During a firefight, a Squad Leader may attempt to have his squad increase their rate of fire by spending more time shooting and less time ducking. I see this as leadership motivation and not recovering from poor morale or rallying.

In my rules, any foot unit that withdraws out of the enemy LOS and is not being fired upon has reached a "rally point" and can recover back to their original tactical effectiveness and aggressiveness levels.

I've also gotten rid of a rallying phase and replaced it with leadership rules and a "Fall Back" order that is automatically obeyed but the unit must sprint without shooting to the nearest cover to get out of LOS (rally point).

Falling back to the Platoon or Company CP could be viewed as Rallying as could gathering up stragglers.


RudyNelson09 Dec 2018 8:52 a.m. PST

Rallying is not a major factor in modern combat. Once the fighting amity of a unit has been destroyed, then the scattering will make the unit combat ineffective for the battle.

Can a unit be rallied to become combat effective, of course. But that would only apply to multi-day battles and not a short term one day or an hour or less affair.

Rallying as a mechanic has different meanings depending on the era being simulated.

Legion 409 Dec 2018 10:25 a.m. PST

A rally point was a location along a patrol for everyone to fall back on.
Yes, same here in the Army … And for game purpose that can reflect a unit retreating/falling back to a covered/concealed position somewhere behind the unit's current location. Where the unit would regroup/rally then continue on with the mission, etc.

Rallying as a mechanic has different meanings depending on the era being simulated.
Very true …as well as scale/size, i.e. Sqd/Plt, etc.

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