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"Leadership score effects" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Andy ONeill23 Dec 2020 4:49 a.m. PST

A game has an oob for each army.
There are leader or hq units and subordinate (combat) units.
Leaders have a leadership score.
What game effects would you expect leadership to have?

Sundance23 Dec 2020 5:51 a.m. PST

Primarily morale effects (better morale/ability to rally quickly/harder to break or pin) or ability to change orders quickly if the leader is attached to the unit or within a reasonable distance. In ASL, leaders also direct fire, giving the firing units a better chance to hit/do damage. Not sure this is really a thing, other than pointing out targets to the heavy weapons.

advocate23 Dec 2020 7:40 a.m. PST

What are the leaders in charge of? A platoon leader will act differently from a colonel, or from a general.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 9:06 a.m. PST

Here is a an easy suggestion: 3 types of leaders: Before the game, roll 1D10 for each leader and annotate under their stand with effects:

Good= 8 thru 10 EFFECTS +1
Average=3 thru 7 EFFECTS +/- 0 (what is rolled)
Poor= 1-2 EFFECTS -1

Leader rolls a 1D6 per every OTHER turn (simulates length of time to receive notice of a need for his attention/formulate and transmit a plan of action). Die roll is modified by EFFECTS with the result the number of sub units he can affect on this turn.

Remember to only allow every OTHER turn otherwise they become too powerful in game play. Such leaders just do not have the ability to cast spells every 15 -30 minutes! (In fact, make it once an hour and even then, that would be generous….even with today's radios!)

And no, they should not be able to make a unit shoot any better!!!


Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 9:12 a.m. PST

Thinking of Chattanooga, November 1863, where Major General Gordon Grander was aiming cannon at the Confederate works (and doing a pretty fair job of it, I understand). Grant (the boss) saw him and told him to get back to his day job commanding an army corps.
Some games give the leader a control range. This could be extended or decreased, depending on his abilities, so that he figures out what the enemy move means and how to deal with it more or less quickly. It's an abstraction, and kind of averaging out responses.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 10:32 a.m. PST

Sgt, Schulz to Col. Grelber: "Sir, We must stop here for if we go over that line, we will be out of command and control radius!"

Yeah, like that simulates reality…..Command and Control is a process NOT a radius. How well a leader can react to changing situations is a function of his experience, training and how long those units have served under him so he knows what they are capable of under pressure. Having a rating for his staff would not be out of line as a modifier as well IF desired.

Andy ONeill23 Dec 2020 10:56 a.m. PST

I had in mind our computer game where units are often battalions but could be down to maybe 50 or so. I think it's more suited to battalions really and 18th-19thC.

But it's just a subject to be discussed really. As we do.

In Leo Murray's brains and bullets he points to a leadership proximity increasing infantry effectiveness at a low level.
I think this is the leader telling the sheep to do stuff and they then take more of an active part.
Crew served weapons are the most reliable participants though. It's riflemen that have room for improvement.

As to a radius of command.
Is it that bad a mechanism?
If you're in the unit left out there way on the left flank. Maybe your morale is lower because the boss clearly left you hanging on your own.
Maybe it's an abstraction of sub units supporting each other. If you're a long way from the boss of 4 units then are those other 3 close enough to cover you?

UshCha23 Dec 2020 12:12 p.m. PST

Bosses make others do what is needed if they intervene a bit quicker and co-ordinate actions of others (where they can).

To be honest we don't actually use a simple leadership but we do call it that. Technicaly is our parameter is a combination of leadership, fear fire and fatigue.

A unit starts off with a good leadership, as it degrades in our system the ability to throw off a suppression or to react quicker tends to degrade. as the value degrades its abities begin to degrade, runs out of ammo and willpower.

To us command radius is better than nothing but its not a means we prefer.

As to random diceing for actual starting values it a personal choice. Personally I detest it. The following is my take on it, certainly some will disagree but that is OK.

The reason is we run a type of simulation, which is us trying to understand at least in principal how you would solve a problem. Small variations in leadership could be accomodated but they add to the complexity but don't justiify the additional workload.

There is to us no point in crafting an interesting and challenging a scenario that becomes a worthless failure or success just because the leadership made the scenario fall out of the set of interesting games, that just gambling and of no interest whatsoever to us.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 2:22 p.m. PST

Oh, must we? AGAIN? Ain't no "leadership." There is perhaps competence and charisma and they aren't the same thing. Level and period matter greatly. The lower the level and the further back in time, the more you want charisma--rallying units, and getting them to move forward or to hold under attack. The later the period and the higher the command level, the more important competence is--getting attacks coordinated, supply and support units properly allocated and making sure everyone knows what he's supposed to be doing.

And yes, command radius is a terrible thing. I order a unit to march from Village A to Town B and halfway down the road they stop--or march at a half step--because they're too far away from me. Really?

Trying to think how many of my various military bosses I'd have been happy to have near me if I were being shot at. Trust me, it's a very small number. Some officers are inspirational, but only very young lieutenants and miniature wargamers think they normally are.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 3:28 p.m. PST

This is what I think everyone seems to want to ignore:

What is the common factor that can be found throughout history?

(This is intentionally broken down in different posts.)

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 3:29 p.m. PST

Answer: MAN is common to all periods of history.

No two are alike.

What are units made up of?

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 4:03 p.m. PST

Answer: Men!

Therefore, how can two units be identical? In reality, units can perform similarly but never identical because of the men that comprise them.

The "unit's" behavior is based upon the training and experience of the Men, of their leaders and (MOST importantly) How long have these men served under these leaders? Confidence in the men and conversely their leaders is based upon those facts. These values can be further modified (by scenario) for unit behavior thru fatigue, fitness for sustaining the fight (think logistical matters), environmental issues, geographical issues, etc.

How can anyone claim they have assembled anything like a simulation or even just an historical game if it is not based upon factors that exist to this day being considered. How well a unit behaves is only as good as the bow shooter, trigger puller, rock thrower that makes up the unit- NOT necessarily the weapons system. Think not? Give Custer's command a couple of M-16's and no training nor ammo or understanding of how to tactically nor technically ability to use the weapon and they still get beat! (Fun scenario, eh?)

So if you can't be bothered to study and accept the use of value sets that determine how units function, then don't claim your rules sets are "historical". Numbers based systems (figure ratios, casualties, arbitrary assignment of unit grade bands (Green, Veteran , Elite, etc) are just not the value sets to use because if they were, then why do we read (pick any period) where units ran with no or little casualties while other units fought to nearly the last man? Leaders would not be able to reverse the effect of battle casualties yet lots of instances where they did!

Command Radius: Concept is not even rooted in any form of Command and Control principles! Command and Control is a process- NOT a radius! It consists of 5 elements:
1. Commanding Element. (Brigade over Regiment as an example)
2. Commanded Element. (Regiment in this example)
3. Downward flow of communication (Orders from the Brigade Commander)
4. Upward flow of communication (from Regiment to Brigade information and status of the regiment and what it see's)
5. Friction at all levels! (Staff competence at Brigade and regimental levels, interference in sending, receiving and understanding the communications, time and distance, etc.)

Time and Distance: Two factors that remain constant in your games. They should determine what is possible during a game turn. A minute will always be 60 seconds; hour 60 minutes, etc. and a Mile will always be 5, 280 feet/ 1620 yards, etc.
"How far can a person travel over open terrain (or modified by things that will slow him down)_during a set slice of time and for how long until he no longer can?

So if you ask yourself if your set of rules handle such laws of nature of man and his surroundings during game play. Do your rules always provide believable results when played? Do you feel the designer had an understanding of the period the rules are set for? Could you play a different period and game play remains the same but only the uniforms of the figures change? (Totally possible but each era/war had it's own set of parameters that make it "period")

Thanks for reading this far. It was my intention to get you to question the game mechanics thrust upon you over the years and ask yourself if they are based upon real life factors as recorded in history or is it just a "game" based upon one person's view of reality?

Wolfhag23 Dec 2020 5:57 p.m. PST

I'm with robert p.

I think the only "radius" to be considered would be within the effective communication range. That could be measured in yards for runners and miles for radios. The front line troops need to report back to HQ status and intel and the HQ may need to alter the front line unit's orders/mission.

Those with a mission would continue to accomplish it until stopped by the enemy or changed by HQ. If a unit continues its mission when the HQ fails to reach them to change it bad things can happen.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 6:21 p.m. PST

Wolfhag. Your response assumes that all one needs is communications (only items 3 and 4 of what constitutes command and control from above). It does not even address the ability of the commander and his staff to act (decisively or otherwise) to any communication sent or received. How long will it take to understand, devise a plan, decide who to to do what when and where within the timeframe a turn represents. That a pretty big assumption. Even in today world with GPS, radios and such, it can take hours for a Battalion staff to act upon incoming intel! Imagine how long it must have taken in the days of runners or horse mounted messengers!

I DO strongly agree that the unit would/should carry on with their assigned mission/taskings until either they receive new taskings/orders or the enemy is not allowing for the execution of current mission.


Wolfhag23 Dec 2020 7:09 p.m. PST

I was addressing the radius restraints. I was in the military and participated in high-level war game exercises that addressed the issues you mentioned, except for GPS as we didn't have it back in then.

You are right it can take hours or in the digitized world minutes. Receiving a message and staffs going into action are different. There are many variables and staff will generally delay in decision making when they feel they are not fully informed. Information overload can extend decision-making time too. Then again, a Battalion commander at the front could observe and get units moving rapidly and leave the other details to his staff. These are areas they train and exercise in.

Initial intel reports normally need to be confirmed. Can a commander act on the initial report or wait for the confirmation – which may never come or be wrong. Imagine three messengers arriving at the HQ at the same time all with different intel and status reports on the same sector of activity! What about reports sent that are wrong because a commander wants to cover his mistakes or blame it on someone else?

In an infantry platoon in WWII it could take only minutes for a runner to get to the Platoon HQ – or he may never make it. How long can it take a horse messenger to ride 2 kilometers? Probably shorter than it will take the staff to make a decision.

These are all factors that make a game interesting. Add in commander initiative with the ability to change orders on their own makes it even more interesting.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 8:36 p.m. PST

Thanks, Wolfhag! You elaborated excellently on those points! Trouble is that not all that many gamers understand what a staff and commander faces in the decision making process. In some cases, it might have been much easier before the digital age!!! Indeed, gaming at staff level could be a subset or a game all unto itself!

I helped teach African Battalions Peace Keeping skills and helped monitor exercise injects and how long before the Battalion staffs responded to the reporting companies. We come to this with the same background. Based upon the responses so far, I think it's safe to say that many game designers may be studying the wrong aspects of how units operate and take for granted that everything works as it is supposed to all the time! (If only it did?…..) (Friction). Many thanks for the post, Wolfhag!

Skarper24 Dec 2020 2:27 a.m. PST

I think there is a huge difference between 'commanding' and 'leading'.

They can overlap but are intrinsically different activities and need different qualities.

At low levels, leaders need to 'lead' and motivate their troops to follow their training under the stress of combat.

Higher up the chain – the commander needs to have a plan, based on an appreciation of the situation and then communicate that plan in a timely manner to subordinates.

Better commanders higher up the chain will be able to make plans more quickly and react to enemy action. Weaker commanders will not be able to do so as well.

Lower down, effective leaders will be able to get their troops to act – while weaker leaders will find things stall and their troops go into a kind of passive mode – only defending themselves from direct threat.

The better trained a unit is – the less the need for leaders to intervene.

Looks as if most of this is covered above, but that's my take from reading and thinking about this topic.

UshCha24 Dec 2020 3:16 a.m. PST

Dye4minis,like many you have failed to grasp the basics of design. The real world has complex systems that need to be approximated. You have yourself defined that it takes time to get a command sent.

Now suppose the designer wants the most simple solution. i.e the least complex. He has two options:-

1) No command whatsoever and the player can mix troops of any command anywhere and they resdpong instantly.
2) Some distance at which commands can be given in a time commensurate with the games itteration time (bound length). Clwarly sending commands that take longer then the game length (in game time) is pointless. I may be argued by period how far that is. This would lead to a very approximate command radius.

Now given the limitation put on complexity and what is being modelled it is not a case of what is best, but what is best within the time itteration time and the designers complexity limit. To me it is clearly obvious that option 1) is the worst and Option 2) is better. No simulation is perfect and 2) may not be an optimum solution. DBM for instance has effectively a 2 Tier command radius.

Describuing a real world situation and then not analysising the constrains leads frankly to your diatribe.

Again on men your proposal is frankly unsupportable. While men differ in behaviour thay can within reason be considered predicatble. There are idiots in all contries that ignore traffic lights. However they as a function work as the exceptions do not destroy fundamantaly what happens. Ego real generals genrealise and in the main it works. Generals may not know all their platoon commanders but he knows generally what a platoon can do with its leader and some will fall below and some will exceed but in general they will do as he expects, provided he has sufficent experience and training as to what theyt norm is for the type of troops he is using.

Now as a designer you can decide on what level of deviation from tha norm you think is usefull. This is turn vaeies dramatical on the aims of the aims of the simulation and the processing time (complexity) of the system.

In engineering we do run very crude models to sort out possible solutions and much more complex models for final desigmn. Occationally the crude model gets it wrong but as a norm it is sufficient to point to where more complex simulation for final design is required so we use crude models. Simple models have their place even though by no means perfect.

Blutarski24 Dec 2020 8:03 a.m. PST

Very sensible commentary, UshCha.

To put it another way, no artist realistically has the time to paint each individual leaf and blade of grass in his landscape; he uses alternative methods to represent their presence in an overall satisfactory manner.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP24 Dec 2020 9:41 a.m. PST

While UshCha approaches design differently than I, we share the desire to simulate events that happened in real life and offer the gamer a chance to apply their take on stepping into the shoes of an historical counterpart. One does NOT need to track each individual leaf and blade of grass to arrive at the picture that you are either in a meadow or copes of trees! It should be the effects that matter, not the perceived picture in the mind of the designer but that of the gamer.

As for defending the need for a command radius, what is wrong with letting real life constraints of time and distance play a part in a design that is claiming to be an historical game? If your disregard for nature's effect of time and distance in your game is evident, just how much confidence can a gamer have in what follows? Now some like to play "games" where they are only interested in moving lead and throwing dice. Nothing wrong with that. Others may want an historical design that is rooted in the world that existed back then, with the EFFECTS of the challenges units and leaders had to face of the time. If your design objective is to recreate what you have read from the historical records you will instantly discover that there are an infinite number of ways friction had presented itself and yet, somehow, results happened. Rather than to catalog all the possible potential ways that friction could interfere, recognizing the effects of such can be modeled in the game. No need to resort to gimmicks like the mechanics of command radius when time and distance is not only more accurate parameters, but are simpler to address in the rules. It only takes looking at things thru different angles that could be more appropriate and simpler than the variation on the same theme perpetuated on us gamers for the past 60 years!

Open your mind to new ideas. Not asking you to like it all, but as I am sure you agree, don't trash a rule set unless you have tried it! Am pretty sure that as in the USA, there are many routes one can take to arrive at a desired destination. Sometime the best way is to learn more about the roads you can select to use make the journey more enjoyable when you finally arrive at your destination. Like all things in life, your "mileage" may vary!

Happy Holidays all!

Wolfhag24 Dec 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

I think you are being a little harsh on Dye4minis. He has some real-world experience that should not be discounted. Maybe you should ask him to clarify?

The better trained a unit is the less the need for leaders to intervene.

That's how my infantry rules work. Units have a Tactical Competence Rating that they need to pass to perform certain actions. If the troops fail then their leader can intervene but at the chance of becoming a causality. Good units won't need a leader's help very often and can function pretty well with a poor leader. A good leader can help a poor unit perform much better but at the chance of losing him. If the leader's influence still does not help he has the potential to perform certain actions himself. Think of it like initiative and it allows leaders to "lead". I'd think that would be fairly easy to program into a computer game.

What we're talking about is somewhat difficult to design into a game. Knowledge is a WIP for all of us and some players are not really up to speed regarding things like command cycles, friction, and command, command, and FoW, etc, or interested in simulating it. Since all units are normally on the table you can't recreate the unknowns that make commanders freeze. The abstracted rules in most games give a poor portrayal of it but there is not much a designer can do.

Sometimes units will even ignore intel reports. When my son was in Yemen they had a drone covering a Saudi SpecOps team on foot patrol giving them real-time updates. They warned the Saudi's they were walking into an ambush but they ignored the multiple warnings. Sure enough, they got ambushed and all were killed in 30 seconds. At levels above Regiment, it's not unusual for commanders to ignore lower level intel reports because it does not agree with what they "think" it should be. In VN it was not unusual for a Battalion commander to be flying around his AO in a chopper placing where each squad should go and what they should do.

Today with JSTARS, satellite updates, real-time drone feeds, digital displays of units in almost real-time, GPS, recon patrols, HUMINT, EW/SigInt update on enemy communications, and even real-time helmet cams a commander can have information overload. Just because you have what may be "perfect" intel does not mean everyone will come to the same conclusion or order the same course of action.

My personal experience regarding command radius: Up to the squad level everyone is within voice and visual communication. Teams always stay together. In an intense combat, it would be closer. The squad leader must keep his teams under his visual watch or get to them in less than a minute under fire. At the platoon level the Platoon Leader or Platoon Sergeant may be with a particular squad for better intel and C&C. The squad leader may need to send a runner back and forth to the Platoon HQ. Marine units in WWII had 2x runners assigned to a Platoon HQ. Friction increases the C&C cycle or OODA Loop as does friction and messages not arriving. At the Platoon level, we had a radio (normally only 1x per platoon) to communicate with the Company HQ. I wasn't really exposed to ops over Company level but it was mostly by radio as I don't recall ever seeing the Bn commander in the field.

In dense terrain, we all stayed in visual contact normally moving in a single file. However, platoons were normally spread out more and the CO may have a hard time coordinating them on the move as not everyone moved at the same rate.

Once we deployed into skirmish lines in dense terrain C&C degraded at all levels because visual contact would be lost and we could not shout orders. Platoon movement might be only 1x yard per second or even slower and frequent stops for squad leaders to dress up the lines. Sometimes a platoon could get separated from the rest of the Company. Reading a map in dense terrain where you can't recognize any terrain features is difficult.

Thanks for reading this far. It was my intention to get you to question the game mechanics thrust upon you over the years and ask yourself if they are based upon real-life factors as recorded in history or is it just a "game" based upon one person's view of reality?

For me, the rules that use unit activation and initiative determinations mostly don't work a the Company level and below. I did have a discussion awhile back about what does: TMP link


wargamingUSA24 Dec 2020 10:40 a.m. PST

My 20+ years of real world experience informs my gaming; as a player, a scenario designer, and recently as a game developer. In the real world I was heavily involved in numerous "wargames" of various sorts and wrote scenarios for tabletop exercises.

As for game development, I have been working on a WWII Bn-TF-KG level of play, stands equal platoon sized elements, wargame rules set. I approach the project knowing I can never, say again never, recreate or simulate real world action. The best I can hope for is to reward good decision making within the context of a specific era.

This means necessarily I have to use constructs, some a bit abstract, or rules/guidance that serve a purpose; to wit, the concept of command radius. Ultimately, the player is commanding his tabletop force and in terms of "leadership" he is who he is. However, I can dissuade players from acting outrageously, without concern for consequences, by reflecting proximity to a command element. Key is recognizing different levels of command and military-technical sophistication affect a particular Commander's radius of control or influence. (Fatigue is another game factor that is universally difficult to represent-replicate.)

As a practical matter, poor scenarios and unrealistic terrain representations, like roads thru European towns that resemble six-lane highways rather than the narrow, winding features that they typically are, are more often an issue than many rule particulars (here is where I say there are certainly specific rules, rules sets, and certain game masters that I just can't fathom and do my best to avoid).

In the end, "its" a game played with toy soldiers for entertainment, enjoyment and perhaps a little learning; unless you are currently serving in a martial profession where training is purely a learning endeavor.

Two cents worth.

Blutarski24 Dec 2020 11:23 a.m. PST

One issue that has always annoyed/perplexed me is the expansive notion of "open terrain" where not even a prone flea can find either concealment or cover.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 Dec 2020 12:27 p.m. PST

Command radius. I can well see the point of expecting a unit to respond more slowly or more easily misunderstand the commander's intent--if the couriers have to ride further to reach it. It's their sudden amnesia about prior orders which bothers me. Either way, it's pretty much a pre-1940 problem, and even then we need to ask how many turns we get in a day and exactly how far we're expecting a courier to ride.

I'm also intrigued by the abiding belief among the C&C-obsessed wargamers that bad commanders give fewer orders. No. Just no. Limited staffs may be unable to formulate and transmit orders rapidly, though this is uncommon. But I think all historical evidence is that the average bad commander gives MORE orders than the average good one. His troops shuffle back and forth all day while exhausted couriers bring in his latest idea. Not all human failings and interactions can be reduced to one or two numbers on a table.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP24 Dec 2020 1:29 p.m. PST

Some interesting comments. If orders need to be issued every turn then the commander's plan sucks! In today's real life, too often real-time actionable intel is way too slow to get acted upon! Unless there is a well rehearsed plan practiced by Company, Battalion Staff and below, any response taking more than say 15 minutes and the opportunity has passed.

Fatigue: Took me about 10 years to find a way to account for fatigue in a battle. By changing the regulating value set from numbers/casualties to using values to Unit Cohesion, you now have one single factor to track, can be derived upon by simply looking at the unit in question, and new vistas open up for adding real factors without complicating game play. In fact, in practice, it seems to speed up gameplay and really shines when lots of toys are on the table!

For the first time (that in 70 years of historical miniature gaming that "I" have found) a way to account for the effect of actions of the unit's leadership took during the course of the time period of the current turn! This allows for the real possibility of regaining lost control over the men and regaining some lost unit cohesion, all based upon a snapshot in real game time of now in the game.

Training and Experience: I see these two very important and historically germane factors considered for both the men and leaders yielding 4 possible , variable factors that will provide differences between units. When the issue of "How long have these men served under these leaders?" and we have yet another important factor that is overlooked by many. Considered with the values of the mean and leaders, we now can compute the starting values of each unit before the game. Of course, this can be done ahead of time by the scenario designer as many other scenario modifiers can be applied at that time.

There are a lot more ideas that I have been playtesting over the past 10 years but don't want to give it all away. It is right to enter into such discussions with other designers and get them to think of new ways to capture what actually had effects in battle- regardless if they have experienced it themselves but can still perform research. It does take designers that have an open mind before we will ever see any results in new rules sets! Of course, it is also human nature to oppose new ideas!….

wargamingUSA24 Dec 2020 3:13 p.m. PST

@Dye4minis… If orders need to be issued every turn then the commander's plan sucks!

Guess that depends on the level of command and what timeframe a turn is supposedly representing.

UshCha26 Dec 2020 1:07 a.m. PST


As a practical matter, poor scenarios and unrealistic terrain representations, like roads thru European towns that resemble six-lane highways rather than the narrow, winding features that they typically are, are more often an issue than many rule particulars (here is where I say there are certainly specific rules, rules sets, and certain game masters that I just can't fathom and do my best to avoid).

To me this is an undoubted problem, no rules will work sensibly without sensible terrain. Points systems are partly to blame, as they stabdardize the table terrain with little or no connection with reality and don't even get me started on equal sized forces.

Wolfhag, the issues with Dy4minis, is most certainly not his experienxce it is with the issue of modelling. What is the minimum standard of model the designer wants is equaly critical to the system. Our own rules have a simplified system using runners as an option. Based on my study this is reasonalbly representative and applys a more representative time lag. However many on this forum only play a particular set of rules perhaps 4 times a year. That is insufficent to have a decent understanding of more sophisticated systems. To write for the 4 times a year player is not the same as writingf for my potential audience which is folk who want a model to gain some basic understanding of parts of the real world with respect to tactics.

Bit late, but yeaterday was the only day we were officilay allowed to see oue kids and grandkids.

Skarper26 Dec 2020 2:26 a.m. PST

There is a difficulty with any command and control rules which is the players will break the system.

This means pages of rules closing loopholes which can never in the end be watertight.

IMO, if you want to have command and control rules you need an umpired scenario. If you don't have C&C then leadership can only focus on leaders making troops fight better at a tactical level.

ASL tries this but is at best partially successful. Really, they shouldn't increase the effectiveness of fire and other attacks, but should make them more likely.

Wolfhag26 Dec 2020 9:25 a.m. PST

In a firefight squad and team leaders are going to be observing and adjusting the fire of their units. This should increase their effectiveness but won't increase the accuracy of each individual. When you are concentrating on delivering accurate fire your observation degrades and leaders are going to help. At this level all leaders can do is to help at the tactical level.

I think most of the restrictive Command & Control rules are designed to keep players from unrealistically moving units about doing whatever they want. Ideally, units should be under some type of order: Move to point A, movement to contact, defend, attack objective, etc. They should be restricted to those orders unless changed by upper-level HQ which will need a radio, messenger, verbal (whistle), or visual (hand & arms signals, signal flares) order from upper command. Now if a player wants to move a unit out of that C&C then he'll take additional time to get back in touch to change their order. That's a common way C&C breaks down in the middle of a battle. Units can report their status and changes and HQ can change their order either. There is some type of delay depending on the time scale.

To complicate things, a unit should be able to react to enemy activity that threatens their mission or use some immediate action or initiative. It would also involve reporting to upper-level HQ to request a change of order and if not in communication they exercise their initiative (fall back, attack, defend in place, etc).

Upper-level HQ's (or the players) may attempt to change their sub-unit's orders frequently as Dye4minis suggested as long as they are in some type of communication but it's probably not a good idea. Like the battalion commander flying around in a helicopter giving orders to individual squads.

These are the reasons I don't like games with an "order phase" or unit activation below battalion level.

There are quite a few ways to represent these factors and it would depend on what the designer wants to bring out in detail and how it fits within the rest of the system. Having an umpire is always best.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

Bit late, but yeaterday was the only day we were officilay allowed to see oue kids and grandkids.

Indeed we all needed to spend time with family over Christmas. In my case, via FB Messenger and Skype.

Brian: Points systems are partly to blame, as they stabdardize the table terrain with little or no connection with reality and don't even get me started on equal sized forces.

Me: Standardized forces smacks of "Linear" mechanics. NOT in the tactical sense; in the game mechanic sense! Assumptions associated with this faulty mechanic is that it always will be the same. Example: Numbers. Figure ratios and morale grades. If one figure equals X real men and the rules require Y number of men in a unit, the units will always start out, always fresh, at full strength.

Each figure loss must then represent that ratio in losses (If 1/20 then multiples of 20 folks are no longer available to "fight" from the unit.) This usually is tied into the morale system as a negative factor per miniature figure lost.

The "linear effect" is that it will always be the same in the system: Same number of castings in a unit, same value for losses with the same effect on the unit regardless of the same type/morale/combat value, etc. in the game. This is where the game based value sets fail in simulating historical reality and factors that are better suited to determine the ability of units to function.

As I stated earlier, numbers do not reflect the reality of how well a unit can function. Larger units require larger ratio of leaders-more training and experience together as a unit, and leadership with an understanding of what the unit is expected to do.

With larger units, it is harder to keep the unit functioning as a whole. Yet, you will find units (regardless of size) running with little or no casualties while others hold their ground till nearly wiped out. Obviously, numbers are not that great of a value set to base things on. It's "convenient" for the game designer so he can design combat, morale and movement tables in a somewhat bell curve and ignores the fact that no two units are ever the same-reacts to similar situations in the same way nor is blessed with factors that favors them over their "otherwise identical" units. In other words, life is NOT so linear. (Red cars don't always go faster; it always takes 30 minutes to go to the store to get the wife a gallon of milk; driving to work always takes 20 minutes regardless of red lights, accidents, flat tires, low on gas, etc. …in other words, life gets in the way.

So designers need to find ways to distance themselves from the "linear Effect" and change regulating factors that better simulate life of the times. Command and Control is just one example where either the designer really does not understand what he needs to model or else makes a business decision to stick with the expectations in familiarity of his customer base (it's easier that way). Despite the "brain power" devoted to a new rule set, it still suffers from the same problems of the 100's of sets preceding this one!

Perhaps Ush-Cha needs to focus more upon the effects of the designed mechanic than making the gamer act in multiple roles? He suggests:

"What is the minimum standard of model the designer wants is equaly critical to the system. Our own rules have a simplified system using runners as an option. Based on my study this is reasonalbly representative and applys a more representative time lag."

Would it not be simpler to devise a mechanic that requires the delivery of a communication to either the commanding or commanded function that is modified by friction on the upward (or downward) flow (Messenger in his example) which is all based upon the time and distance (friction factors) as to when the message is received. The only things controllable by the player acting as a commander are the message intent/content, who the message if for, who will deliver it and when he wants to send it. Such a mechanic can be as complicated or simple as the designer feels is warranted for the gamer's experience. (Intentionally left off would be the discussion of what happens once the message has been received.)

The quandry here is does the designer "know" who his intended audience will be? Does he need to explain the importance of the upward flow of communications or does his intended audience understand that already? As many of us know is that actual researched knowledge of the period or rudimentary knowledge is possessed by the gamer for the level he will be playing within the context of the game. (Squad Leader or Corp Commander?) If the Brigade commander is focused upon accomplishing an objective why would he be concerned if the 45th had deployed it's skirmishers? (If he DID, it would be too late to do anything about it at this point on the day of the battle, so why would one need a mechanic to require him to deploy skirmishers at Brigade level after the battle has begun?) (Am trying to explain the identity crisis of what level of command is the gamer playing at and what thought has been put into the design that addresses factors at that level?)

While discussions such as these are illustrative, typed words are not as good a medium as spoken words. Regardless of discussion medium, an open mind and desire to seek new horizons is needed to reach another level (and hopefully, new levels of fun).

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2020 10:15 a.m. PST

Wolfhag made this excellent observation:

"To complicate things, a unit should be able to react to enemy activity that threatens their mission or use some immediate action or initiative. It would also involve reporting to upper-level HQ to request a change of order and if not in communication they exercise their initiative (fall back, attack, defend in place, etc)."

Regardless of the political system of the country, Commanding Officers (responsible individuals in charge at every level) are considered "Officers of the State" and charged with the safekeeping and protection of their country's assets entrusted to them. Unless ordered by competent authority above them, they may NOT engage in offensive combat. They DO have the ability to defend themselves as the unit represents a considerable amount of the country's resources (human, training, feeding, clothing, transporting of, medical health, etc.) of their country. They also have the responsibility to report to their next level of command what "they" see/encounter as eyes on their behalf.

This is a basic premise that not many gamers may realize yet played an important role in combat thru the ages. Yes, you will find where someone went rogue and performed some great feat! It's the ones you don't hear about who might have been summarily executed on the field of battle for disobeying orders in the face of the enemy! That would have implied that the higher commander, his commander, on up to the head of the country in a bad light for allowing such an idiot to be in command in the first place!

I use this as an example of a game designer needing to know the common core of knowledge and experience his audience may (or may not) have. Designer's note are wonderful is properly addressing such things. The gamer potentially can then provide more enjoyment from the design.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2020 10:39 a.m. PST

Wolfhag also identifies this:

"I think most of the restrictive Command & Control rules are designed to keep players from unrealistically moving units about doing whatever they want. Ideally, units should be under some type of order: Move to point A, movement to contact, defend, attack objective, etc. They should be restricted to those orders unless changed by upper-level HQ which will need a radio, messenger, verbal (whistle), or visual (hand & arms signals, signal flares) order from upper command. Now if a player wants to move a unit out of that C&C then he'll take additional time to get back in touch to change their order. That's a common way C&C breaks down in the middle of a battle. Units can report their status and changes and HQ can change their order either. There is some type of delay depending on the time scale."

A simplifying mechanic could be the use of posturing. Actually simpler in gameplay yet captures the essence of what Wolfhag is saying:

Postures: A general purpose / nature of the orders the unit is functioning under. I have only been able to identify 4. Please let me know if you know of another:

Attack: The command must assume formations , movement and granted offensive authorization to engage in offensive action upon the enemy. A specific objective would be required.(IE Take Bubberdorf or Pin the enemy in front of you.) Tactical deployment determined by gamer playing that level. Once the objective has been obtained, orders revert to Defend until further orders are received. (Which should be tricky if the unit leaders do not have good control over the men!)

Defend: Hold the ground you are on. Remain in place. Formation, use of terrain, etc. at the discretion of the gamer playing that ordered unit.

Maneuver: The assigned unit arranged in formation to move to a specified location. Once at that location, order reverts to "Defend" if until further orders are received.

Reserve: Formation should be in preparation to move out immediately when orders have been received. Orders them revert to Maneuver. Unit(s) remain static reorganizing, replenishing, etc.) use this posture when outside of engagement range). Unit cohesion attempting to be regained.

Orders are to remain in effect until:
1. Different orders are received. (Possible change of posture may be required.)
2. The enemy prevents accomplishment. Posture automatically reverts to Defend unless operating under Attack posture.

At any time, unit commanders may send communications to next higher command level. (Indeed, consider it a responsibility to do so.)

You will notice that there are no artificial distance limits imposed- unit must act as their ordered posture allows/requires until it ordered differently or the enemy interposes their will on mission accomplishment.

Just another suggestion. I use it in my Cohesion rules. It captures the effects yet allows the gamer realistic choices with possible outcomes. Simple rules.

Wolfhag26 Dec 2020 12:05 p.m. PST

I think what you are aiming at is this:

The system I'm working on simulates a 1:1 reinforced company engagement that historically lasted 10 minutes or less on a table representing 2000m-3000m.

Players do assign unit objectives before the game starts (tank-tank engagements). Both sides will start out of the LOS with hidden units like anti-tank guns. Players do use bounding/moving overwatch or it degrades their Situational Awareness.

Tactical reserves are on the table generally 500m behind the main body and need an order to deploy. Either the HQ observes the situation and orders the reserves or an engaged unit requests it over the radio.

So what a defender will do is feint a counter-attack on the enemy's left or right flank hoping the attacker deploys his reserves there and then triggers the real counter-attack on the opposite flank catching his reserves out of position. We will use hidden movement too. You can't respond to the enemy activity you don't have a LOS to.

Infantry units posture is tactical (skirmish line slow-moving good SA, good return fire), column (faster speed but poor SA, poor return fire), Improved Position (deployed taking advantage of local cover and concealment, crawling movement only, good SA and return fire) and Hunkered Down (as improved position but avoiding all direct fire, very poor SA and very limited return fire, no movement).

So if an infantry unit in tactical formation advancing comes under fire they can immediately hit the deck and assume an improved position and return fire or hit the deck and Hunker Down for more protection, especially if being overwhelmed and wait for reinforcements. Improved Position and Hunkered Down would be pinned down to an extent. The Platoon commander is going to use his own initiative to fire & maneuver on the enemy, hunker down or fall back. He'll need to contact the company HQ to change his objective and standing order or request reinforcements.

That's how I see it. You can see why this does not work with the traditional initiatives, activations, and orders phase or IGYG.


Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2020 9:31 p.m. PST

Hi, Wolfhag. Indeed I would agree with you. One would have to have some technical knowledge/experience background as a platoon leader or lower to function in such a sim/game. Without such, the alternative would be to either write extensive rules or (better yet) provide play examples via video.

I am more of a gamer that leans more towards playing Patton than Sgt. Rock on the table. 8>) If your squad hasn't experienced nor trained such situations, they would probably di-di out of their positions should they see friendlies retrograde on their left or right LOC!

At whatever level you want the gamer to play at, some assumptions need to be explained. Say you are a platoon leader, your command should be somewhat proficient working as a squad/fire team. Throughout history, it seems that one man cannot control more than 10-12 others proficiently. As the Platoon Leader, you would be controlling the efforts of what, 3-5 squad leaders, Top NCO, medic, loggie, and comms man (staff)? About 9 others. You really don't have the capability to do much micromanaging once the engagement begins. Your best contribution is redirecting your reserve and call for supporting fires. Also, ensuring your teams stay within their own lanes (area of control a better term?) and not straying into other lanes. The most difficult part would be keeping an eye on your weakest squad to ensure they are being properly led/executing your plan of action. A pretty full plate at time! In what I have been working on it remains a unit cohesion game- unit leadership maintaining control over the efforts of the men towards assigned mission accomplishment.

The concept of tactics (in getting your opponent to give up ground) remains to basics as with higher levels- the challenge being how you use your organic assets and any dedicated support to accomplish you unit's tasking(s). Hidden movement mechanics very much a plus! (BTW, have you seen how AK-47 handles that? Best "I" have ever seen!)

Thanks, Steve, for the discussion!


UshCha29 Dec 2020 3:47 a.m. PST

\There are perhaps a couple of temporay posture certainly in the UK. "Get off the killing ground". In some cases if ambushed you can be in an untenable position. In that case you run for cover regardless as its the least worst option. Similarly if ambushed at very close range is to "attack" if there are no other options.

To be honest the orders every move is perfectly acceptable in a game. Bad commanders do it. However the simulation should reflect the real situation in that it leads to Chaos.

Our own ruiles are optimised to emphasise this option. What comes out is the neccessity for the player to have a plan and to oinly change it as neccessary. While command and control is about control, no leadership system will work if the movement system and morale/leadership is not integrated.

This is an example that hopefully is easy to understand. \many rules have pinning when X number of elements in a command are say supprressed.

We have no such rule, units if recieveing too much fire will be suppressed even to hunker down. What happeds then is the unit is pinned, quite simply it can nologer bring sufficent firepower onto the enemy to make progress. This will force the leadership to find another way to reduce the enemy, when the firepower of the enemy reduces the unit can unsuppress and move forward. No pinning rules required.

Movement systems and leadeship and training are all part of the same system and proably needs to be address together to get an optimum result.

Wolfhag30 Dec 2020 10:07 p.m. PST

Yes, it's tough to design a game that can get new players to realistically use tactics.


I also have "Fall Back" as an order/posture that is automatically obeyed. To advance under fire from any posture requires an Aggressiveness Check. I discussed these in the Immediate Action Drill discussion a few weeks ago.


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