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"Danger Zone: Rules in development" Topic

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Bozkashi Jones01 May 2019 8:23 a.m. PST

I've posted a couple of AARs recently and have had a lot of questions about the rules I use, so I thought I'd jot down some notes here for anyone who's interested.

The basic principles are simple and the game flows nicely. They're designed for low intensity conflicts, such as the Gulf of Sidra or the Tanker War, hence the name 'Danger Zone' a nod to the film Top Gun.

The rules use 15 minute turns with 1" to the nautical mile. Movement is by random activation, familiar to anyone who's played TFL games or similar. I chose this because of the complexity of modern warfare; in each activation just one unit is detecting/moving/firing, so it's easier to track what's going on. Certain units may be able to interrupt, by being a designated picket ship or aircraft on CAP, for example.

A sequence might be that a Libyan MiG-25 activates and moves towards an American ship. If there are F-14 on CAP there may be a chance to intercept (dependant on a fixed move + dice throw to determine how quickly the Tomcats react).

I also have 'resolve' checks when planes are locked by fire control radars, so planes may approach and withdraw, only to try again in the next turn. This gives quite a nice feel for the sort of conflicts I'm interested in, where pilots would be constantly 'jinking' and pulling back, waiting to find the right moment.

If missiles are fired then they are placed 20" from the target (the air defence radius) the target ship and any designated picket ship can attempt to detect and, if successful, fire at the incoming missiles. Once this is done the missiles are moved to 10" and the process is repeated, but with any ship in range able to target the missiles. Any surviving missiles are then moved to 1" out and only the target may fire, plus a dedicated 'goalkeeper' (for example a Type 22s, used to protect the carriers in the Falklands).

Information, be it for a ship, aircraft or weapon system, is all on one line, meaning the full roster for an engagement can be on one side of A5. The values are also the dice throw needed to detect/hit or whatever for example a ship with a radar value of '3' needs to roll a 3 or more on a D6.

Modifiers are a bit radical because I didn't want to have lots of charts. I wanted the players to just be able to assess the tactical situation and know what was needed, so the modifiers may be land behind the target, an aircraft at wavetop height, being targeted by ECM or whatever. If there is only one factor then one is added to the score needed, if it's more than one then three is added.

So, instead of having to look up in a table and add 1, deduct 2, add 2, deduct three, etc, I can just say that the four Skyhawks coming in to attack HMS Coventry have land behind them and they're very low that's a plus three on the score needed so the British player will need to roll fives on his two F/C radars to detect the planes.

I will try and write the rules up, but they are still being refined. They do play well, though, and they seem to give realistic results, so I would like to share them when I get a chance.

Thanks for the interest,


Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2019 7:14 a.m. PST

My only concern here would be the 15 minute turns. That's great for the approach to battle or when the opposing sides are several hundred miles out. However, in modern naval combat a lot of action can occur in a minute or two. You may need to rethink the time scale or have different time scales.

Bozkashi Jones02 May 2019 8:18 a.m. PST

Yep, I know what you mean, but it does work. In deciding I had to balance aircraft speeds against ships having a reasonable movement; too short a turn and the ships barely change position. Because of the activation mechanic there's a lot going on in each turn.

Let's take an example:

Part of Operation Praying Mantis, April 1988; the US have the USS Wainwright (CG), USS Bagley (FF) and USS Simpson (FFG). The Bagley has a helo in the air. The Iranians have the Joshan (FAC), two F-4 Phantoms and a P-3 Orion, well out of range.

The US player is 'first out of the bag' and decides to activate the helo to detect the Joshan which is getting a bit too close. He succeeds. The Iranian player is next and activates the Orion, detecting the US Surface Action Group. He decides not to the move the Orion, as it is holding its position.

Next out is again Iranian, so the Iranian player moves the Joshan forward and announces that he is firing a Harpoon at the Simpson. This is placed 20 miles out from the Simpson and the Simpson attempts to detect the threat. It fails, but the Wainwright is acting as picket ship, so can also try. Let's say it succeeds, so the Wainwright fires a Standard missile.

For sake of example we'll say it misses, so the Harpoon is moved to just 10 miles out. Now any ship in range can fire; the US player decides to roll for the Wainwright first and it gets a knock-down.

That's the end of the Joshan's activation, so we go back to the bag, drawing out a US counter: The US player decides to activate the Simpson and, with the detection made by the helo, fires at the Joshan. We go through the same process as before, but in reverse, and the Joshan is hit.

Next out of the bag is the US player again. He decides to deal with the Phantoms, which are 26 miles away. Having two F/C radars on the Wainwright, he attempts to lock on to both. He rolls what's needed, so the Iranian player has to roll a resolve check; one F-4 passes, the other fails and immediately moves back 6+D6". As the two F-4s are in formation, the Iranian player decides to move the other F4 back anyway.

The F-4s are still within range, so the Wainwright fires two Standard missiles, scoring one hit.

* * *

So, that's one turn, and there's a lot going on, but because of the activation things are still happening in sequence. It's a bit abstracted, I know, but I think of it that the Orion detects the Americans, then a couple of minutes later the Joshan fires. Seconds after that the attack is detected and the missile is taken down. A few minutes later the US responds and damages the Joshan. There's a brief hiatus while the US player assesses the situation and then, wanting to deal with the air threat, he 'paints' the Phantoms with his F/C radar. The Phantoms immediately scram, but not fast enough; a 30 seconds later one is down.

So even though the turn is 15 minutes, its component parts maybe a few minutes or a few seconds, with new threats coming into play and having to be dealt with.

Hopefully that made sense. As I say, it works, even with air combat as each player reacts to what is happening.

Thanks for the feedback – and those Ticos referenced by your user name were awesome ships.


Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2019 8:46 a.m. PST

Dealing with missiles each 10" is essentially a second time frame, without the confusing terminology of "combat turn" vs "maneuver turn".

I would very much like to see these rules!

colkitto02 May 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

I really like the sound of these. They won't appeal to those who cherish their technological details, but the random activation and action/reaction structure sound like they would work really well in giving a good flavoursome game, and I for one can live without loads of tables of modifiers for everything. Thanks very much for setting this out for us. I'm looking forward to seeing these on Wargame Vault!

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