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"Foot Wading in Water" Topic

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UshCha29 Feb 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

We had an interesting debate about wading in water and its effects. Not interested in rules that come later but what are the real world effects?

1 How deep does it mean to be wading. 100mm of water is not that much so not really an issue.
2) How deep does it need to be before it counts as some sort of cover (if at all)? Waste deep, Chest Deep?
3) Does the low predictable speed of a wader make it easier to hit and hence eliminate any cover advantage or even make it worse?
4) How deep does it have to be practically to prevent use of a personal firearm?
5) Is it likely a chap could stumble while crossing making it a hazardous event.
6) How fast in the various cases can the water flow be without it involving undue risk?

Interestingly we have not had this an issue that we can recall in 10 years of play. Most water has been represented as narrow so time spent is minimal and the banks provide some protection so we have never really thought about it overmuch. In a recent scenario game an opportunity for Foot to wade a considerable distance (in excess of 60m)was available, so it got us thinking of the real world effects.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2020 3:22 p.m. PST

Musketeers would have found it difficult using their weapons if the water was above knee deep, as they would have to keep their powder dry!


It also depends on the flow of the river, even low water can sweep you away.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2020 3:53 p.m. PST

I think that Mythbusters looked at bullet penetration of water, but I don't remember the results. I was probably channel-surfing late at night and fell asleep.

1) At what depth does water impede movement? I think it's below the knee, actually. The deeper it is, the more effort to move through it.

2) If you're under water, you may be concealed, even if the water won't slow the bullets down much. Wading at neck depth may make you harder to identify as a target.

3) I think waist-deep in the open is really vulnerable.

4) Depending on recoil, you can hold a weapon above your head and fire it, not as accurately as if you were in a good shooting stance, but you can at least get off bursts to suppress the enemy.

5) Depends on the bed: sand? stones? water-logged wood? Also, how much is the water moving?

6) The bed is also a factor. Still water with a difficult bed is as bad as moving water over sand.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2020 3:58 p.m. PST

What about firing an energy weapon while submerged? Suppose, for example, that a giant crocodile leaped out of the water, grabbed you, and dragged you back into the water. You're wearing Traveller battle dress (powered armor), so the crocodile is having a hard time causing damage, but you can't escape, either.

If you fire your fusion gun, you can expect the a superheated steam explosion that will probably kill and certainly stun the giant crocodile, but you may take some damage as well.

Not that's it's likely to happen again. But it did occur at a convention game several years ago.

raylev329 Feb 2020 6:25 p.m. PST

In addition to the variables listed above, keep in mind that soldiers wading through any body of water are weighed down with a lot of gear and equipment. Starting with the footgear, up through their packs and load bearing equipment. This will vary depending on era. Oh, and we're not talking about an individual wading across a stream, but an organized body of soldiers who have to cross in an organized manner.

Needless to say, an equipped soldier, especially under fire, has a far more difficult time "wading" across a body of water when compared to a normal person out on a hike.

CeruLucifus29 Feb 2020 11:19 p.m. PST

In practical terms these questions might be easier to settle by comparing to crossing an open field.

Can troops run as fast across water as an open field? Only if it's maybe a couple inches deep with good footing. Probably that's not the case, so yes it slows movement.

Can troops take cover crossing water? In an open field they plunk down on their bellies. Will they do that in water? Probably not, so no it does not provide cover.

Can troops crossing water use their firearms? In an open field if they stand up they can, certainly. In water they are also standing. So, yes.

Now we get to the questions specifically about being in water.

Is the water flowing fast enough to be risky? In the rules, is the river section designated a ford? If not then yes.

Can stumbling be bad? Unless very shallow, probably. At the least it may drench the firearm.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2020 3:36 a.m. PST

As far as stumbling, the color & opacity would enter in, if you can't see the bottom clearly, you are more likely to be cautious and thus slower. If under fire I can't see stopping/slowing to return fire but trying to cross asquickly as possible. My 2 cents.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2020 4:10 a.m. PST

Take a trip to your nearest beach and go for a paddle. While in the water, ask yourself these questions again. The answers should be obvious!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Mar 2020 9:32 a.m. PST

A good blog to consider with lots of variable related to wading across water obstacles:


Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2020 1:31 p.m. PST

Don't discount 4 inches of water. I've read that 6" of fast flowing water can push a car off the road. As to cover modern ballistic shaped bullets only penetrate a couple inches with any amount of velocity after that they are just lead weights. Black power firearms would be even less effective due to poor ballistic shape and slower velocity.

UshCha01 Mar 2020 6:45 p.m. PST

Extra Crispy, excellent link, thanks
Cerdic, you are correct I have done so many times, being a widsurver and dingy sailor at time, but other folks views are always interesting and informative.

RudyNelson02 Mar 2020 4:04 p.m. PST

Hindered movement results in a slower rate of speed.
Effective delays will be based on the level of play and time represented by each turn. Having to maintain an infantry formation or at a level where the use of dispersed movement is common.
At a skirmish level, wadding is knee high to waist high. Chest high water means that the stream presents a major obstacle with soldiers in the water unable to give a good defense.
Another consideration for rating a steam obstacle according to our scout handbook, I was in the Army cavalry/scouts is the steepness of the river bank, especially he far bank or exit bank.

UshCha03 Mar 2020 2:53 a.m. PST

Thanks, those definition are usefull. The banks issue is also valuable. I think its not going to be usefull to catogorise large bodies of water, the best is to give some guidelins of what can be used to define a particular obsticle. It's ideal but a diatribe on the subject is certainly unhelpful and is proably only for all but the few who like complex tactical challemges.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2020 11:05 p.m. PST

Extra Crispy, thanks for the link, which reminded me of the water crossings of my youth.

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