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"Close-range fire for MGs?" Topic

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bpmasher25 Oct 2019 9:46 p.m. PST

I'm using a damage-by-range system for my game variant, where it's easier to roll damage the closer you are to your enemy (3+ on d6 at close range).

What would you say is the close range for WW2 -era machineguns? Bipod and tripod models are the main questions, but also automatic rifles like the BAR etc. are of interest to me.

Currently I have three range-bands: close, effective and extreme. You roll hits with 4-6 at effective, and 6s at extreme range.

I could name it any distance given my abstract ground scale (1" = 10 meters) but I like to include some verisimilitude to this design, because the system caters to it very well.

Wolfhag25 Oct 2019 10:04 p.m. PST

Close range MG fire is normally going to be used for Final Protective Fire when being assaulted. When the FPF signal is given (like a star shell) all MG's would point in a pre-arranged direction to deliver interlocking grazing flanking fire.

This could be particularly effective in a target-rich environment or if the MG was firing along a defensive barbed wire the attackers were getting hung up on.

During WWII most FPF situations were at ranges under 50m and normally at night.

In the rules you are using it might work if you gave the MG using this tactic under the same condition an extra die roll or two.


Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2019 10:06 p.m. PST

I always feel even light MG's should have a slight reduction in hits when the enemy is within about 20 yards, as the arc of fire is more limited, though the guys who get hit are more likely to be multiple hits?
I imagine BAR/Bren type MG's were picked up and used like SMG's at short range.
This is a fun demo YouTube link
I am sure there are loads of vets out there who will correct me if I am wrong!!!

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2019 12:02 a.m. PST

Many can fire 800, 1200, or even 2,000 yds./meters, so, I would guess about 10% of that distance.

Say 100 – 200 yds./meters for MGs, which is about 10% of maximum range.

Effective range is about 600 – 800 yds./meters for many. Perhaps 400 yds./meters if on a bipod.

"Effective range" is usually defined as the range at which you get a 50% chance of a hit on the target.

See US Army FMs for more info on the above. I suspect they'll confirm much of the above.

UshCha26 Oct 2019 8:22 a.m. PST

Fundamentally from my reading of the manuals MG's try not pick a single target. As has been said grazing fire is up to 600m. I.e not going above 2ft above ground od an SFMG. A US Analysis of the Ben carrier noted no point in getting closer than 400m to a target as the effectiveness did no increase at shorter ranges. Your assumption of improved accuracy as a function of range is incorrect for military use. This would be correct for target shooting where accuracy to within a few inches is paramount. An MG gunner will be looking to pick an optimal line to kill more than one man at a time.

Again a major failure in a lot of rules is the forcing of MG's to fire at the nearest target. MG's when at all possible will be shooting across the front, again even with a Bipod to attempt to inflict casualties over a long line.

Wolfhag26 Oct 2019 9:40 a.m. PST

There are a variety of ways for MG's to engage targets: fixed, traversing, searching, search & traverse, free gun

With grazing fire, enemy units in the cone of fire will be engaged but I think it would be more like area fire rather engaging a single target so accuracy would not really be a factor, each unit in the cone of fire would have a chance of being hit.

At ranges over 600m, the higher elevation setting loses grazing fire and has the effect of a cone of area fire but you can fire over friendlies heads.

I have not seen many games that go into this level of detail.


UshCha27 Oct 2019 1:57 p.m. PST

Most games have no interest in reality. Thats why we wrote Maneouvre Group, by no means perfect but a definite step in the right direction. To me if real tactics are no even vaguely plausible there no point in playing.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Oct 2019 3:25 p.m. PST

The old Tractics rules had a "beaten zone" where troops inside of it were subject to attack, and the chance to hit was divided by the number of targets being fired at in it.

Always thought that was a pretty "realistic" rule.

Don't see why others couldn't do the same, for close-in, as well as for attacks further away. A narrow, rectangular zone for the close-in attacks – long (arrayed across the front of the firing weapon in a wide arc) or short-edge (narrow from the muzzle's line of fire towards targets further away and along it) arrayed as desired; and a circular zone for longer-range, plunging fire.

Mobius27 Oct 2019 6:41 p.m. PST

Is that with a heavy ball bullet or a light ball bullet?

Martin Rapier27 Oct 2019 8:17 p.m. PST

According to the relevant manuals, the beaten zone for a Vickers is 200 yards deep, and a Bren, around 100 yards. So close range (as in, you are going to hit anything standing up or crouching) will be roughly thosexranges.

Wolfhag28 Oct 2019 12:04 a.m. PST

That's a good question, what's the mean deviation difference between the heavy and light bullet?

Good point, especially when that oval cone of fire is used to enfilade the unit effectively engaging more targets.

I've only fired M60's from a bipod. IIRC, firing from a tripod involved making an adjustment in elevation and/or traverse after each burst to engage the entire target area so it's not ideal for firing at individual targets but can be unlocked from the T & E.

Doesn't ASL have a "Fire Lane" rule for MG's?

Here is what I'm using for my MG fire. The shooting player lays a template on the area he's firing into. Any targets in the area are automatically engaged. This creates area denial to enemy infantry.

Page 8 will give you hit percentages at range:
PDF link

Each template has a % chance to hit a target in the beaten zone. One die roll on a binomial table gives the number of causalities. Quick, easy and accurate.

Tripod M-1917's can be set up behind a rise and put indirect fire into an area using an observer. I do it the way my Grandfather described doing it in France in WWI when he was a Machine Gun Company Commander (12x M-1917's). Vickers can do this too. Opposing players sometimes say it's almost an unfair rule.

You should really think about giving a modifier for having an observer. Firing an MG by yourself will degrade your Situational Awareness and effectiveness.


bpmasher28 Oct 2019 1:20 a.m. PST


So you would suggest templates, and using machineguns as suppressive weapons mainly?

The gaming system I'm working on has both options possible.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2019 5:47 a.m. PST

Here's another thread where we got pretty in-depth about this:
TMP link

TMP link

TMP link

Sorry, not trying to short circuit conversation, just there's a lot of info in here.


bpmasher28 Oct 2019 6:45 a.m. PST

In the current version of my rules, the automatic fire weapons get one extra die of damage per degree of success (rolling low mechanism).

Otherwise, they're damage-by-caliber. So a BAR gets the same damage as Garand. Rifle teams do not have autofire capability, but once you attach an LMG to it, you start adding damage dice as per the degree of success for the to-hit roll.

To-hit rolls are a different mechanic, reminiscent of the RPG roots of the game I'm writing this for (HERO System), so I put the cover and terrain considerations under the to-hit roll, and made damage dependent on the range to target.

In the RPG, you just roll to-hit and the damage after that (2d6 +1 and such), but in my version, every d6 is a potential hit point damage (each figure has two hits). In a sense, my system is reminiscent of GWs outings, except that HERO has a power creation system, that can simulate pretty much everything (including MG fire) with it's mechanisms.

I'm writing a supplement currently, and with my deadline my research has been very rushed, and I'm lacking vehicle rules completely for instance.

Stuff like this (fireteam/squad LMGs) are pretty essential from my POV, so I want to incorporate as much verisimilitude to my rules interpretations as I can.

bpmasher28 Oct 2019 6:51 a.m. PST

Example weapons from my write-up, now that folks know what I'm talking about:

Garand, 2d6 damage, jam on fumble, close range 50m (5") – effective range 200m (20")

Kar98k, 2d6 damage, close range 50m (5") – effective range 200m (20")

BAR, 2d6 damage, autofire*, close range 100m (5") – effective range 400m (40")

MP40, 1d6 damage, autofire*, close range 20m (2") – effective range 100m (10")

MG42, 2d6 damage, autofire*, close range 200m (20") – effective range 600m (60")

Each figure rolls the damage listed on the weapon. So a fireteam of 3 riflemen and a BAR gunner roll 8d6, plus autofire for instance.

Wolfhag28 Oct 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

Yes, I like templates and anything that gives a more visual display of what's going on in the battle. I use movement markers to show the speed and direction vehicles move too.

It looks like you are using a dice method to determine causalities, nothing wrong with that. I determine the results of small arms fire in 10-second increments comparing the volume of fire against the defender and their defensive posture. I use the 1942 Umpire Manual as a guideline for firepower and causalities:
PDF link

My game is for a reinforced Company per side so I'm not firing per figure. I total up the FP values. Units shooting at each other are "locked" in a firefight which degrades their Situational Awareness and makes it harder to engage new targets, like maneuver units against them. I don't know if there is much I can help out with.


Mobius28 Oct 2019 3:48 p.m. PST

That's a good question, what's the mean deviation difference between the heavy and light bullet?

Wolfhag, the Russians are so kind to provide this with their tank gun information.
122mm gun 12.7mm 7.62mm L light bullet.
100mm gun 7.62mm D Heavy bullet.

Russians don't use mean error they use probable error. Actually 1/2 probable error.

RudyNelson29 Oct 2019 7:23 p.m. PST

So many examples both positive and negative. Enough sources that you can justify whatever rule mechanic that you want. In the Ruhr pocket action, my uncle had his spine severed and left arm completely severed by a German machine gun in 1945.
Yet I read one account of PT Boat action off the coast of Italy. After a close night encounter, less than thirty yards, A PT boat examined the damage in port the next day. The boat had over 1,ooo bullet holes in it. They stopped counting at that number. The casualties were zero. Not even a wound among the crew.

UshCha30 Oct 2019 1:21 a.m. PST

We agonised lots over macine guns. In our original rules we biased our rules to the "traditional" faily poor representation knowinjg no better at the time. It was interesting that these rules highlited the fact that in some cases our results were out, somtimes too high a casualty rate and somtimes too low. For issue 2 we have added a bit more as we read alot more.

As can be seen from the Manuals machine guns are complex to deploy in the real world. You coulds write most of the manuals into rules but it would be over complex for our needs. When oprating as a platoon do you really need to up the fire rate on 2 MG's while the other changes a barrel then go back to the standard 150 RPM?

We setteled for some small changes based on what we know now which is bringing in fire on lines for observed lines not just FPF lines. This is was short of the ideal implementation in modelling the fire, but its a compromise that allows depolyement to be simple and not too many rules and still be close enough to the real thing to be useful.

Analsim31 Oct 2019 7:27 a.m. PST


I have some suggestions for you but need to get us both on the same sheet of music before I can do it.

YES, I understand that what I am providing you below is ‘Data Overkill' in respect to your own use and purpose. However, my intent and motive is to provide you with a level of fundamental understanding that you can adapt/convert to game mechanics that capture the significant aspects of tactical MG fire without drowning in all the details.
Let me know how well I succeed. ;^)

Here's the performance data on Light, Medium and Heavy MGs.


M249 MG – CALIBER: 5.56mm
SUSTAINED: 50 rpm in 3-5 round bursts / 10 min barrel change.
RAPID: 100 rpm in 8-10 round bursts / 2 min barrel change.
CYCLIC: 650 – 850 rpm continuous burst / 1 min barrel change.

M240 MG – - CALIBER: 7.62mm*
• AREA TARGETS (bipod / tripod) 800m / 1800m
• POINT TARGETS (bipod / tripod) 600m / 800m
– SUSTAINED: 100 rpm in 6-9 round bursts/10 min
– RAPID: 200 rpm in 10-13 round bursts/2 min
– CYCLIC: 650-950 rpm continuous/ 1 min
*NOTE: The bulk of an IN PLT's organic firepower is provided by the 7.62mm machinegun, especially in the Operational Environment of today.

M2 MG – CALIBER: 12.7mm
– SUSTAINED AND RAPID: 40 rpm 6-9 round bursts/barrel change when damaged or end of day
– CYCLIC: 450-550 rpm continuous burst





Beaten Zone:
The elliptical pattern formed when the rounds within the cone of fire strike the ground or target.
- Oval or cigar shaped
- Density decreases towards the edge
- Effective beaten zone = 85% of rounds

Danger Space:
The space between the muzzle of the weapon and the target
Including the beaten zone. Where the trajectory rises no
More than 1.8m.

Dead Space:
Any Fold or Depression in the Ground That Prevents a Target from Being Engaged
From A Fixed Position Is Termed Dead Space.

I'm going to stop right here and let you digest and question this information before moving on. So, that I can be sure that you are comfortable with the terms and information above and are positioned to appreciate the simple applications we can discuss together to address your own needs and wargame application.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2019 6:59 a.m. PST

Wow, Analsim, looks like you copied and pasted the pub into here! ;) Not sure which one though, as I've never seen it referred to as 'danger space,' we called it the 'cone of fire,' and I don't know why the definition of 'dead space' includes the qualifier "…being engaged from a fixed position…" Dead space is ground that cannot be engaged with direct fire, period.

With regards to the original question, I agree with Analsim that you have to have an appreciation of machine gun capabilities and employment in order to then make some judgement calls on how to best reflect that in your rules, which is why I did like Analsim and did a 'data dump' with all those links.

In trying to answer, I think the first issue is to really define what 'close, effective, and extreme' means. We typically mean 'ability to see and deliver accurate fire onto the target.' If that's the case, you would probably need different rules for MGs on bipods and MGs on tripods.

Given that definition, bipod MGs would fit the standard mold, i.e., the farther a target is the more difficult it is to deliver accurate fire upon, the closer the a target it the easier it is to deliver accurate upon.

Tripod MGs look like this:
Close range: Tripod-mounted MGs don't want to be here, this is not their zone; everything 300m and in is the job of the rifle squads, not the attached MGs. Despite all the talk about the Final Protective Fire/MGs firing on a Final Protective Line, the tripod MGs should be falling back at this point, unless this is our last ditch effort (I think the confusion comes in because when the FPF is fired, everyone, down to the lowliest rifleman, is firing the FPF with a designated sector of fire, to include MGs/SAWs on bipods, so folks assumed MGs on tripods would naturally be a part of this, but not generally the case in Maneuver Warfare, where the ground is not nearly as important as the ability to continue the fight). This is the most difficult area to engage targets due to the T&E mechanism, as you're talking about having to unlock the T&E, losing stability plus still with a limited traverse, to the point that the closer they get, the more likely you have to actually pick the gun up (in the tripod) and reposition it, which you don't really do in real life. In real life you displace when the enemy gets that close, so that you can continue using a gun on a tripod as a gun on a tripod, or you fire the FPF. Speaking of which, defining 'close range' in this manner means that you would have to have another rule to cover the FPL.

Effective range: this is 300m to 800m where MGs on tripods are doing their assigned job, this is where they want to be. They are (potentially) killing with the cone of fire and the beaten zone, locked in on avenues of approach and high threat areas. The density of rounds in the cone of fire and beaten zone is at its highest.

Extreme range: beyond 700 or 800m (the best measurement would be when the gun is no longer able to perform grazing fire), you're probably better off not shooting at all, unless you have unlimited ammunition and the mission is more of an 'area denial' one. You're engaging targets too far away to use the cone of fire (it's ten feet up now) and the beaten zone is the size of a football field, and not heavily saturated. Though still enough to give you pause before walking out into it; are ya feeling lucky? ;)

I hope that helps.


Wolfhag02 Nov 2019 1:19 p.m. PST

Good clarification Jack.

Any tripod-mounted weapon would not be in the very front MLR as it would be very hard to perform the lateral crossfire FPF unless you disconnected it from the T&E mechanism which I've never done but it worked well for John Basilone at Guadalcanal.

In WWII the Marines usually used the M1919 during the day and brought up the M-1917 water-cooled Brownings for the night when they might need the sustained firepower and need to move up or relocate. I rarely saw a tripod used but we always seemed to bring them along.

At effective and extreme tripod-mounted weapons are really going to be area fire. Shoot a short burst, turn the T and/or E one or two clicks and fire another burst, repeat over your assigned zone of fire. It's good for long-range interdiction or suppression but I doubt very good for aiming and engaging single targets.

In my grandfather's WWI diary, he described how he set up his 12x M1917 water-cooled .30cal Brownings to deliver area fire 1200 yards away to cover a water well on the German side of the lines. Alternate guns would take turns to fire a burst all night. The next day a patrol interrogated a German POW that said they lost a number of guys that night and didn't get any water.

The lateral zone of a burst is going to be only 1-4 meters wide so probably only possible to hit one target unless they are bunched up or flanking fire. This gives a graphic explanation per burst:

Another limiting factor is the tracer burnout range which is about 1200 yards. By knowing the burnout range you can better estimate target ranges from 1000-1300 yards.

I have different rules and limitations for bipods and tripods with causality/suppression determined every 10 seconds/turns.


Analsim04 Nov 2019 9:16 a.m. PST

JJ & W,

"I'm GLAD" that you guys chimed in because unless you spent 20 years in the US Army/USMC you wouldn't be too familiar with 'How all this MG theory gets applied on the ground'.

That data that I 'cut & pasted' into this thread above is actually a combination of related things from the FMs, The MG Performance Spec., TTPs and a host of other relevant factors, such as 'Platoon Fire Planning' which touches on how you actually apply several of these MG Employment Methods I listed above.

OK. For the record, You, Wolf & I all know bpmasher isn't asking for this level of detail. However, it very interesting to me to have this discussion with you guys to discuss, assess & determine what can be deduced from all this MG data.

Example: Things like Final Protective Fire (FPF), Beaten Zones & etc. are NOT things that a Infantry Squad or Platoon can simply pull out of their a** on a moments notice. "Time" is actually the key overall factor here. So, in hypothetical tactical infantry type game, that uses say 5-10 minute turns, the Player could potentially take advantage of FPF and alike, "IF" he's willing to simply designate the unit and have them solely dedicated for the next three (3) turns (i.e. 30 minutes) to create and emplace the men and weapons to accomplish the FPF option. Which when actually implemented would result in a simple 'positive' modifier to MG Fire to reflect the impact of putting FPF in place well in advance.

This is the type of things that I am suggesting we could do across the board, that would provide the impact and significance to bpmasher without drowning him in the process.


Wolfhag04 Nov 2019 1:38 p.m. PST

Yes, timing is an all-important factor and seconds of timing are hard to simulate in a game with 1+ minute turns. I plead guilty to the information overload, I think I just like to hear myself talk, at least that's what my wife and kids have told me.

Yes, you had to have some type of prepared defense/perimeter and that can take 30+ minutes as you stated. IIRC when our squad dug in the Squad or Team leader would assign each fighting position with their FPF zone by putting a stake or stick to your left or right in front of your hole. We normally got the FPF signal with a certain colored star shell normally fired by the CO, he loved his little flare pistol.

I may have been incorrect about a tripod-mounted MG's delivering lateral FPF.

From the diagram, they should have an almost 180-degree field of fire but a position like this takes a while to dig and is a pain in the butt too.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 Nov 2019 4:39 p.m. PST


"Any tripod-mounted weapon would not be in the very front MLR as it would be very hard to perform the lateral crossfire FPF unless you disconnected it from the T&E mechanism which I've never done but it worked well for John Basilone at Guadalcanal."
Actually, you set the FPL on the range card by making it either your left or right (depending on which flank the gun is emplaced) lateral limit, so that when the signal (usually a colored star cluster, which we used to call 'pop-ups') is given you unlock the gun and swing it all the way over to the left or right stop, lock it back in, and squeeze the trigger until the barrel burns out, you run out of ammo, or you get overrun.

"I rarely saw a tripod used but we always seemed to bring them along."
In training we took them everywhere. In Afghanistan the MGs were mostly mounted, but when they were dismounted you had to have a tripod because the distances were all 700m +. In Iraq they got dumped because it was all MOUT, not much use for MGs in the traditional role. At those ranges (which relates to the original post), an MG is really nothing more than a belt-fed rifle, thus able to keep fire on a location for a (relatively) sustained amount of time. And if you think about it, it kind of renders MGs unnecessary as that is the (doctrinal) role of the SAWs. You could argue that 7.62mm beats 5.56mm and thus it's a big deal, but that really wasn't my personal experience.

"I'm GLAD" that you guys chimed in because unless you spent 20 years in the US Army/USMC you wouldn't be too familiar with 'How all this MG theory gets applied on the ground'."
Hey, I only did 10 years! It was a busy 10 years though ;)

"That data that I 'cut & pasted' into this thread above is actually a combination of related things from the FMs, The MG Performance Spec., TTPs and a host of other relevant factors, such as 'Platoon Fire Planning' which touches on how you actually apply several of these MG Employment Methods I listed above."
Right, that's why it's so difficult to get into proper MG employment. A lot of folks want to play a platoon-level game where the table is only 200m x 100m, and I tell them the MGs are already irrelevant. They are in the doctrinal role of a platoon or company's fire plan, their no longer doing their primary job of firing on their PDF, which is 150m or more OFF the far end of the table ;) I put up a long post awhile back about range cards and machine gun-gunnery.

"Example: Things like Final Protective Fire (FPF), Beaten Zones & etc. are NOT things that a Infantry Squad or Platoon can simply pull out of their a** on a moments notice."
I would agree with this, but as a machine gunner, for different reasons. I would say that a good gun squad leader can absolutely emplace the guns and assign PDFs and FPLs on the fly (it's a part of gun drills you run all day long), but the real issue is tying in with the rifle units to ensure 1) the guns are protected, and 2) the FPL doesn't become an incredible 'blue on blue' issue/event. So time is the issue, but it's not laying the guns, it's coordination with adjacent/supported units.

And to Wolfhag's point, laying the gun and emplacing the gun are two different things. It takes you half a day to dig that hole, with a three-man team!

"IIRC when our squad dug in the Squad or Team leader would assign each fighting position with their FPF zone by putting a stake or stick to your left or right in front of your hole."
Yeah, that's how riflemen set their sectors of fire/FPL, but we machine gunners are more refined. ;) And that's why riflemen always fire high in the dark! Which is also why you lock the gun back into the T&E after you swing it all the way over to the stop, so that you're locked in on a grazing fire trajectory.

"From the diagram, they should have an almost 180-degree field of fire…"
They do, and it's more than that, because the opposite side as your FPL would also be your supplemental position, which you would do a Range Card for, too. Like this:
-my gun is on the right end of the platoon's line, so I got the bulk of the infantry to my left and maybe on squad (to protect my gun) to my right.
-since I'm on the far right, my FPL is going to be to the left, so my FPL on the tripod is my right stop. In the dark I can unlock the gun, swing the butt to the right as far as it will go, then lock it in again and fire.
-since I'm on the far right, my supplementary is to my right. That is, suddenly enemy troops show up on the right flank, where we weren't expecting them. So now you actually pick the gun and tripod up, move it right (perpendicular to your original PDF), and engage.

In the diagram above, you'd just pick the tripod up and move it to the right side of the hole (though it doesn't look like they gave their parapet enough room); this is also why a lot of MG positions are L-shaped. You've got your PDF, then you're responsible for one flank.


Wolfhag05 Nov 2019 10:59 a.m. PST

Thanks, that updated me on a few things. I never thought of turning the bipod 90 degrees to cover the flanks.

Regarding the M1919A1, for WWII I've never seen pictures of it being used without a tripod and it does not seem to have a bipod attachment on the end. All of the pictures of Marines using it in WWII does not show a bipod. My research showed the Fall of 1943 was when they first started using bipods (A6 model?). The Stinger was developed during Bouganville and I think first formally used in Iwo Jima.

I have not been able to find diagrams of setting up an FPF of where the MG's would go. I'm thinking they'd have to be in with the rifleman in front, probably on the flanks. Why? They'd need an elevation advantage to fire over the fighting positions and the further to the rear the less effective crisscrossing fire would be. That's my viewpoint but I could be wrong.

The best description I've read about a coordinated FPF was the Jap night attack on the second night at Tarawa. From the description the MG's were in with the rifle squads, there was no elevation on Tarawa. Then on Guadalcanal in the jungle they'd need to be in with the rifle squads too. Maybe these were exceptions because of the terrain, I can't say for sure.

The only FPF diagram I could find was on page 19 of this showing the MG in with the rifle squad:
PDF link

I've been trying to finalize my infantry small arms fire rules and this has really helped for the MG parts. I want to include some of the nuances of the weapons deployments being a player decision.

Hopefully, bpmaster has gotten something out of it too as we got off on a tangent. I see the key aspect of close-range MG fire is the grazing effect and flanking/enfilade fire on the enemy at close range/assaulting which means you are going to potentially engage multiple targets with a single 10-12 round burst. Frontal fire you'll most likely engage only one. It appears the maximum width of a single burst is two to four meters depending on the range.

So the number of targets you could theoretically engage frontally would depend on your rate of fire and turn length. So in a one-minute turn, firing a burst every 10 seconds allows you to engage 6 targets unless they got behind hard cover protecting them from direct small arms fire. That's how I see it anyhow. This is what I'm using, maybe it will help. I'm assuming the diagram shows under ideal circumstances with the gun ranged in:


Analsim06 Nov 2019 9:14 a.m. PST

JJ & Wolf,

Again, it's been a real pleasure discussing this with you both.

Just Jack: I had to laugh too!, in reference to your comment suggesting that the MG Dynamics we've been discussing "wouldn't fit on anyone's tabletop @ 10m to the inch." ;^) ;^)

Wolfhag: Same thing with your beaten zone diagram. The 500m cone is hanging off the edge of the tabletop. ;^) ;^)

All this begs the question: "bpmasher, What is it that you are really trying to portray?"

Is it; Squad, Platoon or Company level actions?

AND!,…Oh yeah, with your 1"= 10m scale, anything larger than a Squad action, is going to have to be abstracted or notional, because the real 'MG Dynamics' won't fit on the tabletop at that scale.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2019 8:47 p.m. PST

Yep, it's always fun for me to relive the mis-spent days of my youth by talking about this stuff. Getting harder to remember though ;)

"I never thought of turning the bipod 90 degrees to cover the flanks."
Yup, you've got primary, alternate (fall back), and supplementary (flank) positions every time you lay the gun, even if it's just a quick look around and brief your gunner and A-gunner.

"The Stinger was developed during Bouganville and I think first formally used in Iwo Jima."
I didn't think it was ever 'formally' used, I thought it was just some crazy stuff that Tony Stein came up with.

"I have not been able to find diagrams of setting up an FPF of where the MG's would go. I'm thinking they'd have to be in with the rifleman in front, probably on the flanks. Why? They'd need an elevation advantage to fire over the fighting positions and the further to the rear the less effective crisscrossing fire would be. That's my viewpoint but I could be wrong."
Yeah, guns are deployed in twos, usually 2 chopped to each rifle platoon, so the riflemen go in the middle (minus a fireteam, maybe squad in certain situations) wide of the gun on that flank, guns on the flanks. Again, that way you can swing the guns across the front to protect the rifles from getting overrun. It's gotta be grazing fire, and it's at the cyclic rate, so you don't want them elevated, they're creating a wall of lead between the (charging) enemy and the riflemen.

"So the number of targets you could theoretically engage frontally would depend on your rate of fire and turn length. So in a one-minute turn, firing a burst every 10 seconds allows you to engage 6 targets unless they got behind hard cover protecting them from direct small arms fire. That's how I see it anyhow. This is what I'm using, maybe it will help."
I'm not sure I follow here; are you talking about bipods or tripods? Either way, firing a burst every ten seconds is pretty slow, even for the sustained rate (but you don't fire 10-12 round bursts, you fire 6-8 round bursts). Bipod vs Tripod really affects how many targets you can get to in one minute, but tripods are engaging area targets, not point targets, so I'm not sure we're speaking the same language. And the beaten zones in that diagram look pretty small to me.

"All this begs the question: "bpmasher, What is it that you are really trying to portray?""
Yeah, I dunno, was hoping to spark some conversation, but I think we ran him off.

"AND!,…Oh yeah, with your 1"= 10m scale, anything larger than a Squad action, is going to have to be abstracted or notional, because the real 'MG Dynamics' won't fit on the tabletop at that scale."
I've actually played skirmish games like that, where the MG is on the table, but it's not actually part of the game, it's firing at targets off the table, and the actual game is a squad of riflemen moving up on the flank to take out the MG, and the MG is being defended by a squad of infantry.

Cool stuff.


Analsim07 Nov 2019 6:40 a.m. PST


I retired out of the Army in 2001 and have been working for DoD (as a civilian) for almost 20 years now.

Thus, I still have one foot in the door, that I can use to help me overcome the occasional memory failures. ;^)

In respects to giving bpmasher 'what he was actually asking for', I'm going to throw this out for him and everyone else to consider.

Basically, our discussion here highlights the fact that you can't have it both ways. Meaning, that there are Historical and Functional Realities (factors) involved in wargame design that you are going to have to trade-off and/or balance (back & forth) to get at what you want.

That's essentially the dilemma we've handed to bpmasher. You can't expect to fit History, Wargame & Playability together without making trade-offs.

From my perspective, the current trend in wargame design are sacrificing too much history in favor of the Game and Playability to the point that you have generic systems like Black Powder, that only really serve to parade your miniatures around for your fellow wargamer's appreciation and enjoyment in a social setting.

Wolfhag07 Nov 2019 5:42 p.m. PST


that only really serve to parade your miniatures around for your fellow wargamer's appreciation and enjoyment in a social setting.

That's generally my observation too. A while back I was discussing how to implement real tactics into games and a few people said:

"I like more abstraction in my game"

which is fine, I don't criticize what people like to play. My observation is that many players like the abstracted dice mechanics, activation, etc and there are some popular rule systems that can give the right "feel" even if they don't come across from the manual. Companies need to invest and develop products people will buy, not what they think it should be based on realism. Hence the inevitable playability vs detail compromise that will always be with us.

Personally, I like these lower-level tactical discussions because I'm using the manuals, tactics and AAR's as a basis to portray interactions between units without the abstracted rules most games have.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2019 7:56 p.m. PST

Analsim – I got out in 2004, was a DoD civilian, too, just retired from that (bought back my military time) in 2017.

Wolfhag – I like the low-level tactical discussion as well, but I will admit that I'm one of the guys that enjoys abstraction in wargames. My focus is on command and control and tactical decision making, I don't get wrapped around the axle regarding time, ground scale, nuts and bolts performance, I focus more on capabilities. So people think I'm crazy treating a WWII German squad the same as a Russian squad as a British squad as a US squad, but from my standpoint they all represent a like tactical capability, and the real issue in the game is where you put them and what you do with them, under the constriction of not being able to do everything you want to do, and/or them not doing what you want them to, when you want them to, because of enemy action and friction.

But I'm with you, to each his own, and I don't criticize anything about what or how other people play. Just play! ;)


UshCha09 Nov 2019 2:06 a.m. PST

Just Jack again I'm not sure you can't have your cake and eat it too. You cen get the grunts to act vaugely relaisticaly without more rules than a steriotypical fetherstone clone and get command and control better proably with less rules overall.

It comes at one cost though folk have to understand a bit about real world tactics and it needs thought to co-ordinate it all.

Wolfhag09 Nov 2019 2:48 p.m. PST

Jack and UshCha,
I think it comes down to what game system and rule "paints the right picture in your mind" to the point that it is an acceptable level of realism for you. This differs from player to player. For some people, additional realism does not make the game any better. There are certain aspects I'll abstract to a high degree too.

I like a game that portrays the timing of actions between units because I can better simulate the techniques from tactics manuals and get historical split second results. That eliminates traditional rules like unit activations, opportunity fire, command dice, etc that some people are so fond of.

Maneouver Group has an interesting activation mechanism that while not able to portray the interactive timing between units, does present some interesting tactics and decisions for the attacker and defender. I think it is a better translation of the manuals into a game than other highly abstracted games.

It also depends on how much effort the players want to put into learning the rules and potential record keeping. In my game, a player decides on an action/order and notes the future turn it executes and that's too much record-keeping for some players.

I've seen some players really get involved in the artificial and abstracted rules of games because for them it presents the right balance, decision making and recreation of combat. To each his own. That's why I doubt if there will ever be "One System the Rules Them All".


UshCha10 Nov 2019 10:10 a.m. PST

I think I'm many cases it's not even the rules it's more fundamental, some players are unintrested in the actual real use of there toys. One man with superb models, way more detailed than is needed for a wargame turned up with Shermans but had no real clue what even a platoon was, never mind how a platoon behaved. No rules can ever fix that.

With that type of player I have more in common with a Morris Dancer (which by the way is a complement to thle Morris dancers) than them. There is no common ground to even define a game that is mutually acceptable, So rules may have no common ground at all between them so no one set can possibly fit all.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 8:28 p.m. PST

Hey, what good is cake if you can't eat it? ;)

To each their own, I suppose. I've only ever gamed with my kids (who, for some reason, believe EVERYTHING I tell them) or former military guys, so I've never actually had the experience of guys playing wargames but not knowing what stuff was, or what it's battlefield uses was. But we all tend to focus on capabilities (rather than nuts and bolts, I.e., a squad is a squad, a tank is a tank, an MG is an MG) and command and control (basically a game mechanism or mechanisms that limit the effect of the 1,000-foot General).


Wolfhag11 Nov 2019 6:39 a.m. PST

Yes, we've discussed players wanting to recreate tactics and ones that just wanted a simple ruleset to move their pretty models around. I have some good friends that are really into the visual recreations on the table to entertain them and take pictures, rules are secondary.

I think the bottom line is what entertains you the best. If they are not really interested in the historical aspects and tactics there isn't much you can do. If they enjoy showcasing their work using a set of highly abstracted rules so be it.

I'm designing a game around the OODA Decision Loop because it's common to all players, you don't need to teach it and there are fewer rules and game mechanics to remember.


UshCha11 Nov 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

Everybody is entitled to play what they want. I just have tight limits as to what I will play. Pretty models however good to me is not worth playing if it's not realistic, but thats is just me. In my club most of the groups do not mingle. We play games we want too and almost never step out of that group as we have our own minimum standards and few if any common standards.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 7:32 p.m. PST

OODA Loop? Now you're speaking my language!

Again, to me, this is what wargaming is all about, tactical decision making. We're all feeling the pressure, do I carry out my plan, or do I end up reacting to yours because I *have* to?

To keep focused on that aspect of gaming, I end up simplifying ("abstracting") the finer details of weapons/equipment statistics and focus on capabilities on unit behavior. This seems to me to do the best of putting the player into the shoes of a small-unit leader, and not having to worry about tables, statistics, and dice-roll modifiers helps keep me focused on the decision-making vice having to pull my head out of the game.

But that is just my opinion and my particular way of playing games.


Wolfhag11 Nov 2019 9:15 p.m. PST

I think we're both on the same page as far as detailing what we think is important and abstracting what we can. The OODA Loop timing concept can accommodate any gunnery or small arms rules you currently use whether they are detailed or abstracted. You just need the historic rate of fire data.

For me (and I think you too) the key is simulating the interaction between all units which includes C&C. With all things being equal, better-trained troops will get through their loop to Act first. However, suppression and a tactical advantage (flanking/surprise) will add time to the Observe part of the loop, what I call an Engagement Delay, forcing you to take longer to Act, taking longer to Act gives the initiative to the enemy. As you can see there is no need for separate initiative or activation rules.

At the Decision part of the loop, the player can choose from historical (from the manual) "Risk-Reward" tactics to give your unit a speed/initiative advantage or better efficiency (taking more time to do it right with less chance of screwing it up).

Since the timing can get predictive (that's no fun) there are variables for Situational Awareness, crew training, weapons platform performance, and player decisions. The timing results compare favorably to AAR's, training and manuals. There is always a small chance of a SNAFU and it happens at the worst time. You can change orders to react to a new threat as long as they are not in your blind spot.

I'm finishing up the vehicle combat part and I could use your help on the infantry part translating the manual and tactics into the game rules. I'm especially interested in how different squad/team formations will affect Situational Awareness (reaction speed) and the initial firefight to gain firepower superiority and suppress the enemy. You're on my email list.

By the way, my son and I spent our first Marine Corps birthday together, had a great time.


Analsim12 Nov 2019 12:21 p.m. PST


The OODA Loop timing concept was the main reason that I married my wife! Because I ran out of time. ;^)

Seriously, When I was still riding M1 Tanks, I impressed upon my Platoon Leaders that once they made contact, they had less than two (2) minutes to make their tactical decision(s) that would likely affect the outcome of the initial engagement/battle.

That notion was based upon an M1 Tank moving at an OPTEMPO of 500m a minute.

Wolfhag12 Nov 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

When I first met the woman who would be my wife, the Observation part of the loop went well with almost no delay in engaging, we were making out about 15 minutes after meeting. I had excellent Situational Awareness as I had done some advanced recon and had some good HumInt on the target. I knew her friend who had supplied some photo recon of the target and its coordinates.

During the Orientation phase, I sized up the situation to see if I wanted to perform a close hand-to-hand assault on the target or do a tactical withdraw and what precautions and protection I would need.

The Decision I made was a night time all-out full-frontal assault. I used deception tactics by performing a probing attack at the rear of the target to undo some of the barricades that kept me from getting through the first line of defense. It was somewhat like an elastic defense. I then performed a double envelopment successfully pinning the target's defenses and making it powerless for the final Schwerpunkt right through the middle of the target's defenses.

As far as the Act part of the loop, that's classified. The AAR is not fit to post in this forum.

Mission Accomplished? No, I think not! The tables were turned on me at the last moment when I let down my defenses during the surrender negotiations phase and was taken POW in a swift surprise counter-attack by unknown reserves the enemy had been holding back. I had failed to read the enemies' true intentions. I have been incarcerated for the last 27 years and it appears it's a life sentence.

Wolfhag (aka inmate Stud Muffins)

Analsim13 Nov 2019 10:41 a.m. PST


I only have two questions.

1. Where's the part about how you got inside your future spouse's Decision Cycle and used it to your advantage?

2. Do women even have a Decision Cycle? ;^)

Analsim13 Nov 2019 11:09 a.m. PST


Given the current wargame design state of the art today, which seems to rely heavily upon random abstraction such as Turn Cycles (i.e. IGO-UGO), Cards, Activation & Initiative die rolls and simplicity, that you are Not going to find too much advocacy for the OODA Loop timing concept.

In all fairness to these folks, I will agree that it becomes less and less important as you move away from Tactical Small Unit level combat where seconds and minutes make a big difference.

I think as you move up to Company and Battalion Level combat, the OODA Loop timing concept evolves in what I'd call 'Windows of Opportunity'. Which largely work in a similar fashion but are mainly 'Event Driven' instead of strictly by Time.

Before some 'Fluff Merchant' jumps in says, "You can use abstraction to depict that!" Here's my point. OODA Loop and taking advantage of 'Windows of Opportunity' are conscious and deliberate acts taken by the Commander and/or Human Wargamer, to influence and shape the outcome of the battle. These things are Not the products of dice rolls and card flips.

Great Commanders, are Great!, not because they are lucky, its because they have been able to master luck and are able to mitigate its adverse effects, while exploiting the chaos it creates.

Wolfhag14 Nov 2019 11:52 a.m. PST


1. Where's the part about how you got inside your future spouse's Decision Cycle and used it to your advantage?

I'll leave that up to your imagination or I can give you a "Birds and the Bees" lecture.

But thanks for your feedback and comments. I'll try to keep my response pertinent to machine guns.

Yes, TMP people are very much into the abstracted mechanics as a way to make the game more interactive than traditional IGYG but there are some people that still prefer IGYG. It works for them and their group. I'm finding people new to wargaming like the OODA Loop system as do players that like more detailed games and data cards. It's much easier to introduce new players as the OODA Loop is natural.

At a convention, I had 8 players going through their turns after a 5-minute intro and the table next to us the GM was still giving a lecture for 45 minutes – that's torture.

I like the idea of "Windows of Opportunity". Yes, the OODA Loop is good for low level and 1:1 engagements and is not really playable in larger games other than the amount of time to communicate, change orders, change formations, etc.

I think game design all boils down to how do you parse the actions of all units within a game turn. There seems to be a variety of preferences, all one degree or another an abstraction. Since there is no standard or best practice companies can rewrite their rules every few years using some new variations that they or their fan base think is a change in the right direction.

At KublaCon of this year, I had two kids aged 14 and 18 play a game. Neither had played a WWII tank-tank game before. When they wanted to shoot they rolled a D20. On their data card the crew type (Ace, Vet, Poor) row on the data card it had the amount of 1 second turns it would take to shoot, maybe 5-12 based on historical references I could find. If the target was on their flank they added additional time loosely based on turret traverse speed, maybe another 3-10. The total is added to the current game turn when the tank will shoot (Act). You do need to know 2nd-grade addition.

They used their natural ability to Observe the battlefield, Orient/Evaluate the threats, Decide what to do (shoot ot move) and determine how long it will take (add a few numbers together) and record the future turn they will Act. While waiting for the Act turn they can cancel and change their order as all units are considered active, just like on a real battlefield.

Each 1-second turn is announced in sequence. When a turn # is announced all units having that turn to Act do so and then immediately start their loop at Observe, there is no orders phase. You get split-second results and I use historical data with a minimum of abstractions to determine rates of fire/reload, movement, turret traverse, etc. For me, it's a minimum of abstraction with a maximum of detail and playability. No opportunity fire, activations, dice or cards, orders phase, etc. It's all about timing.

For machine guns it will take a certain amount of time to set them up, tripods will take longer. If being flanked it will take time to reposition, which gives the enemy an advantage because you are not firing. When engaging a target and/or suppressed your Situational Awareness is decreased, this adds time to your Observation (Engagement Delay).

If your MG team is being fired on by a Suppressive Fire element of a squad they'll have their Assault Element off to your flank Hunkered Down out of sight and not firing. When the Assault Element makes their move, the MG team can immediately react (units are always active and can change orders) to engage them. Just like with tanks, it will take additional time to respond and react to the flank attack and reposition your gun. During that time the enemy is moving closer. If the attacker timed his assault right he can be tossing grenades before the MG team can shoot. As you can see, the game revolves around the interactive timing of units, not game rules.

You can't just select any target to shoot at when it is your "turn" like most games. Enemy units cannot safely traverse in your field of fire because you have already been "activated" and are powerless for the rest of the turn to do anything.

Each turn of firing there is a 5%-10% chance of the gun jamming, changing barrels, putting in a new belt, a breakage. S--- happens. The chances are somewhat abstracted but tailored for the specific gun on its data card. Historically unreliable guns will have a greater chance of something going wrong.

For small arms fire, I determine the results of the volume of fire delivered over 5 or 10 turns. That's basically one burst for sustained fire and two bursts for rapid-fire (has a greater chance of something going wrong). I'm not counting individual rounds, mags or belts.

Using a timing system the future action in the next 10-20 turns can realistically be estimated by the player and reacted to. You'll need to plan ahead, not just react when it is your turn to shoot or move. Better troops will be quicker, suppression adds to the time to perform an action.

Since there are a few timing variables you cannot accurately predict the exact turn a unit will Act and that is kept a secret from your opponent. It also lends itself very well to solitaire games too. The only record-keeping is the future turn units will Act (what I call an Action Turn).

This is probably more info than you need but I hope it helps.


UshCha15 Nov 2019 12:18 p.m. PST

OODA is interesting in what it can be defined as. We at Maneouver Group would argue we have it at a level we are happy with. To us it was a very simple solution. The problem as we saw was most games failed generally in things like getting reserves in a timely manner. In "classic" Featherstone clones it's impossible. Such games fall into tanks move 12 inch troops move 6". A simple factor two. Tanks waiting at a convenient holding point with routes out can easily move out at 20 mph at least 6 times the speed of infantry, same with troops in soft vehicles if protected from small arms. So we have made sure that like the real world re deploying from one combat position to another takes a lot more time than moving up well places reserves or striking forces. Effectively the one on the defensive cannot simply redeploy at the same speed the attacker does. Initial "surprise" is gained even with players eye view due to the disparate timescales of the movement. Of course the defender can deploy his reserves and do the same but you get the idea. However again is often not liked. Random getting inside the opponents loop is OK. Having to put more thought into it and avoiding traffic jams, to many detracts from what us effectively just a moving diorama with dice.

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