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"Recommend me WW2 skirmish rules with battle friction" Topic


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Juhan Voolaid12 Aug 2019 6:03 a.m. PST

The fog of war -- uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.

So what skirmish level WW2 rules would you recommend that emphasize the battle friction the most?

A tactical WW2 board game that implemented this aspect the fullest is called "Combat Commander: Europe". Anyone played this? It's a card driven system, where you have hand of action cards (assault, shoot, move, etc) and to activate a squad with given order, you must play that card. So in the game you end up with not-perfect hand of cards and you are forced to do silly things which are not perfect to the situation that is visible from the God's view perspective. That game also triggered lot of random effects (stuff that was happening around you by other troops not in your command) like sniper shots, smoke/wind, fires, random heroes/reinforcements, etc. It is a lot of fun. I would really like to have a miniatures rules that give such a wild and chaotic experience.

Personal logo Private Matter Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 6:41 a.m. PST

I would recommend that you look at "Chain of Command" or "I Ain't Been Shot, Mum" rules by Too Fat Lardies. Bother rules work in 'friction' quite well and will give a good game.

This video is an "introduction" to Chain of Command: YouTube link

And this video shows how Chain of Command is played: YouTube link

Tommy2012 Aug 2019 7:03 a.m. PST

Have a look at Sergeants Miniatures Game link . It's also a card-driven system, and your comments on Combat Commander read like they were written for SMG.

DeRuyter12 Aug 2019 7:05 a.m. PST

+1 on the Chain of Command recommendation.

macconermaoile12 Aug 2019 7:46 a.m. PST

+2 on the Chain of Command recommendation.

advocate12 Aug 2019 7:56 a.m. PST

Chain of Command for platoon-sized actions, iabsm for companies.

redmist112212 Aug 2019 8:15 a.m. PST

+4 for Chain of Command.

P.

Microbiggie12 Aug 2019 10:00 a.m. PST

Again, Chain of Command and IABSM. The reason that some of my wargaming friends do not play these rules is that they treat 'friction' as a major component of tactical combat.
Mark

jdginaz12 Aug 2019 11:04 a.m. PST

Yet another Chain of Command recommendation.

Juhan Voolaid12 Aug 2019 11:34 a.m. PST

Yeah, I know both IABSM and Chain about their battle friction quality. But I have not actually played or read them.

For example, what is in Chain of Command rules, that give the unpredictable fog of war effect?

The Sergeants Miniatures Game looks also promising. It looks too much board-gamey to me though.

BillyNM12 Aug 2019 12:17 p.m. PST

Chain of Command for me as well!

Northern Monkey12 Aug 2019 3:56 p.m. PST

Chain of Command sounds like what you want.

Wooly Bugger12 Aug 2019 6:09 p.m. PST

I'll through a different name into the mix and say I really like Fireball Forward. It has a card activation system and initiative chit system that allows some variability in how units activate.

Tony S12 Aug 2019 6:09 p.m. PST

I've played Combat Commander – it is indeed a great game.

If have to agree with the majority, and recommend Chain of Command too.

In CoC, you roll a number of dice at the beginning of your phase. The varying pip scores let you know what options are available to you. You can activate certain formations, or leaders, gain "CoC" dice that allow you to do special things, or even – if you're lucky enough – allow you an extra phase.

The pre game patrol phase is quite unique, and really adds to the game.

Having played both games, I honestly think CoC is closest to CC. It's not an exact translation, but I think the same rules philosophy is common to both.

Juhan Voolaid12 Aug 2019 10:14 p.m. PST

But does CoC have any random events of any kind? The limited tactical options is fun, I agree.

Basha Felika12 Aug 2019 10:52 p.m. PST

CoC has a few random events built in but you can be sure there will be plenty of ‘friction' nonetheless – my ‘go to' rules for platoon-level WW2

Crabbman13 Aug 2019 10:37 a.m. PST

My rules Fireteam:WWII provide plenty of friction. Random card draws determine which side activates then units roll to see how many actions they get (te number of dice based on troop quality and any suppression). Joker cards also signal random events when drawn.

link

Juhan Voolaid13 Aug 2019 10:58 p.m. PST

Fireteam:WWII looks interesting. Does it use regular playing cards or does it require of printing some special cards?

I hope there would be a print version (print on demand) available. And based on the preview pdf, I would like to see a layout without the camouflage border. More white space, cleaner and more professional look.

Crabbman14 Aug 2019 12:26 a.m. PST

The cards used Fireteam:WWII are just standard playing cards. Im currently sorting out a print on demand version of the rules on Lulu.

Whirlwind14 Aug 2019 8:35 a.m. PST

For emphasizing battle friction the most…perhaps Nuts! link . It has chancy activation, quite variable morale effects, random reinforcements, the oddd civilian and random snipers, mines & mortars and so on.

Although you can play it head-to-head, I think it assumes that you get a more convincing experience playing co-operatively (or solo) and I generally agree with them.

Lee49414 Aug 2019 12:38 p.m. PST

The problem I have with "friction" in most rules is that it`s way overdone. Like trying to heard cats! Most armies were not rabble and while Stuff Happens too many rules have too much random going on. Especially at the Skirmish Level. With a Platoon on the table you ARE the platoon commander and hopefully understand the capabilities of your squad leaders and can communicate with them. If you don't/can't you should be relieved. Friction should come in at the command level, which is what I build into my rules by confronting you as the CO with an ongoing series of difficult decisions. You become the Friction. Your men know how to fight and take orders. Your challenge is to give them the right orders. Makes for an interesting game as I've watched experienced gamers Melt Down trying to make the right decision at the right time. Cheers!

David Brown15 Aug 2019 12:20 a.m. PST

Lee,

Interesting points:

To highlight friction with regard to your comment:

Hopefully understand the capabilities of your squad leaders and can communicate with them.

It's communication that is often the issue. Even with modern radios I've been unable to communicate with sergeants in an adjacent building, leading to a "what the hell is going on moment" and having to send a runner or go myself to find out.

Also subordinates don't always carry out instructions as per their briefing or your last comms message…they sometimes "interpret" what you mean and act differently from the commanders intentions, especially in stressful situations.

So I suppose it comes down to when in a game we apply that "extra friction" and in what situations the extra friction is most likely to arise?

DB

surdu200516 Aug 2019 1:33 a.m. PST

See link for information, how-to videos, and free downloads for Combat Patrol.

picture

GGouveia17 Aug 2019 2:20 p.m. PST

Chain of Command.

TacticalPainter0120 Aug 2019 1:20 p.m. PST

To get a better feel for Chain of Command there are AARs here that give a good feel for how the rules play out, particularly the fog of war and friction. These are all games in the small campaigns that are where CoC really shines
Chain of Command AARs

TacticalPainter0120 Aug 2019 7:52 p.m. PST

So I suppose it comes down to when in a game we apply that "extra friction" and in what situations the extra friction is most likely to arise?

To some degree it has to be random because you never really know when it will arise and if you allow gamers to predict when it might happen they will respond in predictably gamey wargamer ways. Not only that but it's impact can vary from a very minor delay in carrying out a task through to a complete failure to respond at all and you won't know that until it happens.

Munin Ilor21 Aug 2019 1:07 p.m. PST

Another recommendation for Chain of Command.

Juhan Voolaid wrote:

For example, what is in Chain of Command rules, that give the unpredictable fog of war effect?

Others have mentioned the effect of the random hand of Command Dice, but for me the biggest "fog of war" effect is the fact that you start the game with nothing deployed on the table. You have some idea of where your enemy can deploy (the Patrol Phase has established the locations of both sides' Jump-Off Points), but not necessarily where they will deploy. Often, your first inkling that an enemy unit is present is when they open fire on you. This simulates fog of war and the "empty battlefield" extremely well.


But does CoC have any random events of any kind? The limited tactical options is fun, I agree.

There are random events in CoC, and they come in several different types. There are turn-based random events (things like unidentified planes flying overhead such that everyone hits the deck and no one moves that phase, or a sudden torrential downpour that severely limits visibility), but these are fairly rare. More commonly, the variable turn structure also makes the duration of effects like smoke, overwatch, or covering fire pretty unpredictable as well. Finally, there are some unit-based random events, things which are baked into the mechanics of how a unit or weapon operates. The most common of these is the case of running out of ammunition for mortars and the like (or as happened to me in one of my first games, failing to post a grenade through a window and having it land at my poor troopers' feet).

TacticalPainter0121 Aug 2019 1:37 p.m. PST

The other random event in CoC worth talking about is variable movement. A normal move requires 2D6 which means you can expect on average to move 6-8" and you can expect your enemy to do likewise, however the unexpected happens, be it misunderstood orders, more difficult terrain than expected, over caution, or much better going than anticipated and rapid movement, regardless of how you want to rationalise it what it means is neither your nor your opponent's movement is entirely predictable. This creates random events of its own – the sudden arrival of an enemy squad when you didn't expect it, or the tardy movement by your flanking squad that throws out the timing of your assault.

Mark 111 Sep 2019 6:02 p.m. PST

Friction should come in at the command level, which is what I build into my rules by confronting you as the CO with an ongoing series of difficult decisions. You become the Friction. Your men know how to fight and take orders. Your challenge is to give them the right orders. Makes for an interesting game as I've watched experienced gamers Melt Down trying to make the right decision at the right time.

I like Lee's way of thinking!

It's communication that is often the issue. Even with modern radios I've been unable to communicate with sergeants in an adjacent building, leading to a "what the hell is going on moment" and having to send a runner or go myself to find out.

Also subordinates don't always carry out instructions as per their briefing or your last comms message…they sometimes "interpret" what you mean and act differently from the commanders intentions, especially in stressful situations.

David makes a strong point (or two) as well.

I remember sitting in the combat training simulator control room at the US Army School of Armored Warfare back at Ft. Knox (back before it got moved to Leavenworth and merged with the Infantry School).

I was only there as an observer. So I make no pretense of great authority on this topic. But what I saw in a particular engagement was quite illuminating to me.

The setting was a platoon of Abrams tanks. The simulators for each tank were fully enclosed and isolated from each other, with 3 crew positions each (driver, gunner, and TC). They had all of the normal crew visibility ports, but they were all screens driven by the simulation.

The crews were all fresh butterbars (2nd lieutenants newly graduated from OCS). Their company CO, an OCS classmate selected to be the "captain", was in the control room with us, observing the platoon on the big screen, and communicating by "radio" to the platoon leader.

The platoon took a position on a ridge, in hulldown positions, to scan for signs of enemy activity ahead. But there was a higher hill off to one side a bit behind them. Unknown to any of the 2nd lewies, that ridge was already occupied by an opfor platoon (run by the simulation team).

The captain (the company CO) was pacing furiously back and forth saying "They're vulnerable. They're not looking at the map -- they're gonna get whacked there." The simulation operator (umpire) said "They have not given you a sitrep, you don't know where they are, so you can't make any suggestions."

The platoon radio discussion when something like this (all from memory):

"Red 1 to Red team, report."
"Red 2 in position."
"Red 3 in position."

"Red 1 to Red 4, report."
"Repeat, Red 1 to Red 4, report!"
"Red 1 to Red 3, can you see Red 4?"
"Red 3?"
"Red 2 to Red 1. Red 3 appears to be burning."
"Red 2 say again? Who's burning?"
"Red 1 to Red 2, say again? Red 2 copy?"

At that point the simulation operator told the captain that the Red 1 was destroyed too. The whole platoon had been destroyed. None of them had even understood they were under fire, much less identified the threat (the direction, the force) and reacted to it. Instead they were just bewildered as their platoon mates went silent. They were stuck in trying to figure out what was going on, or Observe and Orient as they say in OODA-loop speak.

To me, this was a perfect example of friction. They didn't draw an activation card. Or they didn't get a command role.

But I prefer something more tangible than cards or dice. In my gaming I prefer mechanisms that make it hard for the players to decide what to do, rather than a result on a results table that tells the player he doesn't get to do anything until the other player gets a second turn.

But I can see it both ways. The platoon leader was unable to understand what was happening and make any sort of decision. The company commander would have been able, but he didn't get to enforce his will on the unit.

Just my observations. Your tankage may vary.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

David Brown14 Sep 2019 8:40 a.m. PST

M,

Spot on!!

DB

Wolfhag14 Sep 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

Mark,
That's an excellent representation of friction. However, when referencing the OODA Decision Loop you can't really represent it without introducing some way of simulating timing in the game turn. Randomness has very little to do about acting more quickly than your opponent to get through your loop first and IGYG cannot either.

I like to think that suppression generates friction because it degrades your ability to shoot, move, observe and communicate. Degrades means it will take longer to perform those actions, timing again.

With all things being equal, better crews should get through their loop before poor crews, therefore, seizing the initiative and forcing your opponent to be on the defensive and respond to your actions, timing again.

Timing would eliminate the need for initiative and activation rules. Since in reality, all units are always active, as soon as they notice an enemy threat they should be able to react by starting their loop at Observation. There can be many internal and external factors that will shorten or lengthen the amount of time to get to the Act part of the loop. Weapons platform performance can shorten or lengthen it compared to the enemy unit. Engagement Delays from friction, suppression and poor Situational Awareness can lengthen the loop. Risk-Reward Decisions (taking chances) can shorten it. Random battlefield events, degrading visibility and equipment SNAFU's can have a very negative impact. Crews can panic, freeze or make mistakes. Timing through the loop should not be too predictable nor should it be random.

I think most games simulate friction by giving units a chance to do something or degrading their level of success and some do it in a very playable way with the right feel with units not performing to the level the player desired. However, that still does not represent the timing through opponents OODA Loop, at least with the rules I'm familiar with (I'm willing to be wrong here).

My idea of the ideal skirmish game would be where each unit on the table is going through their own OODA Loop by reacting and starting at Observing in one turn and Acting in a future turn. That should create interaction between all units. Since it is a "loop" as soon as you Act you go back to Observe and determine how long it will take to Act again. Repeat through the game. That should eliminate unit activations and orders phase. Using timing (like a video game) you eliminate the need to activate a unit and initiative goes to the quickest through their loop. You'd need some playable way to simulate simultaneous movement that interacts with the timing so that makes the task more difficult. If you could have the timing between movement and the shooting loop you'd solve the complexity of Opportunity Fire.

Design in the various factors for differences between crew efficiency (speed), weapons platform performance (like rate of fire), friction, random actions, SNAFU's, and suppression that can increase the amount of time to get through the loop and it should make a playable game with less artificial and abstracted rules. It would create a playable and realistic Fog of War because with "Act" turns being secret no one really knows who is going to perform an action next. That's how I see it.

Wolfhag

Mark 120 Sep 2019 5:22 p.m. PST

I think imperfect information, particularly when combined with inexperience, has a significant affect on an individual's behavior within an OODA loop.

In the example I described above, I think that the inexperience of the crewmen had a big role to play. They were not observing as well as they could have, and the platoon leader didn't orient himself to the fact that his unit was under fire and taking casualties before it was too late.

That said, the opfor was VERY experienced and did an aces job of handing the trainee platoon their butts on a platter. They were shooting from the left side (and behind), but shot down the line from the far right vehicle. So anyone who did notice they were taking casualties was looking the wrong way (at the burning tanks) to see the threat (the shooters).

That kind of stuff is going to be very hard to duplicate in a game.

But I try.

One of my favorite techniques for generating friction is hidden units. I don't put any models on the table at the beginning of a game. Every unit is represented by a paper chit, with it's ID info face-down on the table. The chits are moved and played as if they were models, but the models are not put on the table until they have been spotted under the rules (whatever rules you are playing). And every player gets extra blank chits, that can also be moved and played as if they were real units, except that they never shoot, and can never be successfully spotted regardless of the spotting rules.

I have seen games where players see their commands killed off unit by unit, while never identifying the threat. I've seen games where players make key decisions based on what they assumed the chits were, rather than what they knew. I've seen games where players simply couldn't decide what to do until they had the chits figured out, and suffered loss after loss while key support units sat and tried to spot.

There are reasons that veteran / skilled units move in bounds from cover to cover, set up a base of fire to cover their moves, screen their flanks, and charge into ambushes. And there are reasons that novice / unskilled units suffer combat paralysis, or deer-in-headlights syndrome. I've managed to create some of that on my gaming tables. Not perfectly, but partially at least. And I don't have any dice or cards for command activations. In most cases I don't even use rules for morale. I'd rather have a player decide to pull units back than get a result on a table saying that player has to pull units back.

Doesn't work all the time. I set up a game with an experienced tank crewman (drove an M1A1 in the first Iraq war) and my youngest son (then about 13) on one side, and an experienced tank commander (commanded a platoon of Abrams in the 2nd Iraq war) and me on the other. My poor son got his entire formation shot to pieces without successfully spotting a single adversary.

I felt really bad, and he never played in one of my games again.

But in truth, it was not a bad replication of what might have been expected if a rank novice had stumbled into a shooting match against experienced veterans. Just not a lot of fun for the poor newbie.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Wolfhag20 Sep 2019 9:24 p.m. PST

Mark,

That kind of stuff is going to be very hard to duplicate in a game.

Yes, it is. In the OODA Loop, that's the Observe part.

Here is a quote from Otto Carius (one of the top German tank commanders from WWII):

"Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy gun's report, because the speed of the round is greater than the speed of sound. Therefore, a tank commander's eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun's report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy antitank gun opens fire halfway to the right, his eye will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow muzzle flash. His attention will immediately be directed toward the new direction and the target will usually be identified in time. Everything depends on the prompt identification of a dangerous target. Usually, seconds decide."

When seconds count, which is the case of historical 1:1 engagement/skirmishes, using seconds as a timing mechanism solves a lot of gaming problems. That's what I've tried to model with Situational Awareness Checks in the Observe part of the loop.

Poor SA resulting from being buttoned up, suppressed, poor training, or flanked/surprised will most likely result in an Engagement Delay of a certain amount of turns/seconds (blind spots are worse). Engagement Delays will most likely give your opponent the opportunity to seize the initiative and shoot first (units are always active, no IGYG and you can react to any threat in your LOS as it appears). Synching movement rates and rates of fire on a second-to-second basis (somewhat like a video game) handles initiative and opportunity fire without additional rules. Moving in bounds will give the unit better overall SA.

If you are buttoned up and flanked with a 12 turn Engagement Delay from poor SA and your opponent on your flank can shoot in 10 turns the target is completely surprised. The first clue of an enemy in the area is an AP round bouncing around the inside of the fighting compartment of his tank. It's all about timing, not activations.

If you are in a shootout and your opponent shoots on turn #59 and knocks you out and you were to shoot on turn #60, too bad, you were a second too slow. Now if he had a poor crew that might have added 3-4 additional turns which means you shoot first and live.

At the Orient and Decide part of the loop the player analyzes the situation and decides if he wants to move, shoot or track his target to shoot in a later turn. To shoot he determines the amount of time to perform the action (Action Timing on the data card based on historical data) and adds that to the current game turn. That equals his "Action Turn" when he will "Act" and execute his shot, normally 5-15 turns/seconds in the future. After shooting, he immediately (on the same turn) loops back to Observe (there is no orders phase or unit activations) and determines his next Action Turn. Repeat until killed or the battle ends.

All units in the game are acting within their own loop with better crews, tactical advantage and faster weapons platforms getting to the Act part of the loop first, that defines battlefield initiative, not a random die roll.

I use hidden units too, especially with anti-tank guns. If you can get them to bypass you, start shooting at the rear unit (closest to you now) and take them out one by one because you are in their blind spot if you've forced them to button up (poor SA).

Wolfhag

Auswargamer09 Oct 2019 2:42 p.m. PST

Chain of Command!

FlyXwire10 Oct 2019 7:12 a.m. PST

Mark 1, I think you've hit on the absence of cooperative game modes being promoted in rulesets today – your umpired training example at Fort Knox seemed just as akin to that…. as a training team [attempted] to work together vs. an Opfor (the opposition decision-making could just as well been played via a computer sim's AI routine [and is now days]).

Fog of War or friction is something that might be easier to generate when a GM is managing events, scenario triggers, and tracking opposition positions and their hidden movements – maybe such game modes as pioneered by the now venerable Dungeons & Dragons-type games presents a way for historical gamers to "explore" alternative encounter methods…..not keying on the RP aspect of D&D, but on the team-work aspect of these cooperative encounters.

(have there been WW2 rule sets or board game that do this very well?)

Ultimately, "realistic" Fog of War and Friction can be taken to such heights where these will likely smother the enjoyment aspects of gaming. Taking the Fort Knox example again – was it meant to be a "competitive" encounter experience, or something to exact a training point on the participants?

If gamers encounter repetitive situations where they seem destined to lose, they'll vote with their feet.

(I see a modicum of potential success that should be offered for gamers not to come away from a situation of just feeling they were subject to someone's "killer dungeon" setup…..)

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