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"Nearest Target Myth" Topic

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UshCha19 Jan 2021 1:35 a.m. PST

I am doing a final, hopefully, read of issue 2 of Maneouvre Group. It made me think of the minor "revolutions" as far as we were concerned we conducted in issue 1. Most rules we had read for modern anti Tank warfare set target priority as always the nearest vehicle regardless. This myth seems to have remained in most rules. I say myth as even the M1 tank manual notes that in the unlikely event (sic)of it meeting a vehicle whose front Armour it cannot penetrate it should shoot at another in the side; leaving friends to attack the one in-front of it. Not that this is new. Roman legionaries were taught to stab the guy along from him not the man in-front.

Where did the myth come from and what possible justification was there for it in the first place, or is it just one of those bizarre "we have always done it this way" war game issues without any credible reason to do it that way?

advocate19 Jan 2021 2:43 a.m. PST

It's a simple rule, easily enforced. To be honest, I prefer 'biggest threat' but that's hard to define. I guess what rule writers are trying to avoid is players trying to get victory points.
I'd point out that there was at least one documented account of a Tiger being taken out by a single Sherman firing multiple shots: armoured combat isn't always about being able to penetrate frontal armour.

advocate19 Jan 2021 2:45 a.m. PST

Said Tiger was of course not knocked out, but abandoned by its crew ; still, a battlefield kill.

Timbo W19 Jan 2021 4:06 a.m. PST

I think it's a quick and easy but rather indiscriminate way to avoid gamey cheesy play. Eg Tiger ignores the Sherman 100 yards away to fire at the Firefly 500 yards away. Sometimes this might be justified but depends on circumstances. No doubt UshCha can develop a suitably complicated system to model this.

BillyNM19 Jan 2021 4:37 a.m. PST

If you want to get it right you'll probably have to review how you determine who/what can be seen and when – at this point it all starts to get too complex for a 'game' and you have to decide what you're trying to reproduce on the table. Is the player – the CinC – really the person who should be adjudicating which target to engage: yes if he's the gun/tank commander but otherwise not. In the latter case so long as the outcome is credible what's the problem?

Decebalus19 Jan 2021 5:14 a.m. PST

It is also a question of scale. Spearhead for example (one model is a platoon i.e. 5 tanks) wants to eliminate gamey tactics. So there is a clear rule, what to shoot and to shoot at the nearest target. And the very simple rules get the effect, that are right for the game.

Fingerspitzengefuhl19 Jan 2021 6:29 a.m. PST

I can't comment for WW2 but Cold War and beyond engagement priorities would be given:
1 Air Defence
2 engineering
3 Command
Dependant on the priorities set by the mission commander.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 6:30 a.m. PST

It does make some sense to shoot at what's closest to you – and Decebalus is right, scale is an issue

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 6:44 a.m. PST

Let's ignore the tank example, as it seems to be kludging up the thinking.

I'm not a fan of the rule, because there often are priority targets in a battle which a soldier or unit will know are preferable over others. There's a bunch of peasants with pitchforks forty yards away and the evil king and his guard fifty yards away— of course you shoot at the frickin' king!

If a target is an objective, then the simple presence of any other possible target nearby should be irrelevant to the choice— go for the objective.
As for victory points, who cares?!? The opponent should be smart enough not to leave victory hanging out in the wind for anybody to snatch. Real battles have indeed turned on the unlikely chance or the desperate shot.

Now, one could have rules that affect the probability of success, or the likelihood of a unit actually following an order to ignore a nearby enemy in favor of a more distant target; these are reasonable rules to set. But "you can't shoot my general because Nancy the Milkmaid is 2 mm closer to you" is absurd.

UshCha19 Jan 2021 6:57 a.m. PST

Parzival +1, Adding the rule does not make it better than without it. There are as many if not more Con's than pros, which is why it has always seemed daft to me.
Again the situations complex.

Fingerspitzengefuhl A bridge layer may be the priority target as without them the enemy attack would fail regardless.

The true art of rule writing is not to have one unless it makes things better.

Timbo W Don't understand. No rules is less complex than having a rule. Your own situation as I understand it is real. If the enemy could see a Firefly at a sensible range they shot it first as it was the highest threat. Hence the "tradition" rule is worthless even counter productive.

Wolfhag19 Jan 2021 7:05 a.m. PST

IIRC if a Tank Platoon Leader was able to control an engagement ideally he'd have the tanks on his right flank engage the enemy left flank and work towards the center. His tanks on the left engage the enemy's right flank and work towards the center. This way the most number of enemy units is engaged at once. I'd assume a Platoon Leader with radio and enough time could designate individual targets for each vehicle in his unit, especially in an ambush.

They might give priority to targets with multiple antennas, AAA, engineering too.

If your unit is surprised, the engagement tactics would most likely be each tank is in survival mode and shooting at whoever is the biggest threat to them.


gunnerphil19 Jan 2021 8:20 a.m. PST

At the risk of complicating things further, could it be a training thing. Experienced troops would shoot at most dangerous target, led experienced or panicky troops would shoot at nearest target.

Martin Rapier19 Jan 2021 8:54 a.m. PST

There aren't that many rules with target priorities in them, I first came across them in a serious way in Spearhead, and they seemed to be a good solution to of players who were supposedly brigade and division commanders cherry picking targets for individual platoons.

The only other ones I'd come across before that were the old Skytrex micro armour rules from the mid 1970s where the HQ elements for each company were vital, so there were rules to stop you cherry picking those.

Battlefields are confusing, chaotic and scary places, so I don't have any particular issues restricting the godlike ability of players to minmax their target selections, particularly if those firing elements are more than two levels below their level of command.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 10:21 a.m. PST

It keeps some gamers (and we've all seen them) from doing stupid things because they rules don't prohibit it.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 10:37 a.m. PST

I think it's really just to try to eliminate or reduce the "God's eye view" of the game table, and having more info than real troops in battle might have had.

I generally dislike it though, even though I know what is trying to be done, since troops would select AND fire on higher priority targets when/if known, e.g. that Firefly instead of the short-barreled Sherman that is much closer (no doubt that's why the Brit's tried to camo the ends of their long barrels – perhaps a spotting roll, or troop skill check to identify it would be better), command tanks, unit commanders, etc., etc..

NATO troops, and I suspect Soviet/WARPAC ones were trained to look for, identify, and shoot at command vehicles and commanders, in order to try to degrade enemy units, whenever possible.

Let the enemy play the shell game, and you do the same, hiding your commanders/command vehicles among the others, just for grins.

UshCha19 Jan 2021 11:06 a.m. PST

79thPA This seems at odds with our approach. Like real generals they should be allowed enough rope to hang themselves. Fog of war and incompetence by generals is a thread running through real warfare, why would you write rules to eliminate such things?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 11:11 a.m. PST

Let's assume that you, the guy standing on the floor pushing his toys around.
You are represented by a specific figure/model on the table.
You are commanding several units.
Let's suppose that this game is set in a period with no, or very poor radio communication.
How do you determine what the target of Unit A is? He has Unit X in front of him. He can see Unit Z a few inches beyond X.
But you, your figure on the table cannot.
How will your rules handle that?

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 11:22 a.m. PST

Gentlemen All!

Every argument for a rule requiring fire at the nearest target has merit, and every rule for not doing so has equal merit.

So, why not simply introduce one more simple layer of the only thing guaranteed in battle--uncertainty?

If a unit could otherwise fire upon either the closer or farther target, then simply roll a die: Even the closer, Odd the farther. This not only eliminates the need for any other rule, but whatever the result of the roll, it will be perfectly explainable by the sheer weight of imponderables actually involved.

Mind, arguments about when one target represents a greater risk than another can certainly influence a unit's choice of target. But this again assumes perfect information/understanding of a situation which may be clear as day to the God-Like Commander floating above the field, but hardly to the tank/unit whose battlefield awareness is going to be limited to what is directly in front of him regardless. So, once again, a simple bone roll resolves the issue from case to case, and the game rolls on.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 11:48 a.m. PST

I am not talking about fog of war, I am talking about having an entire platoon of infantry shoot at a radioman or a grenadier while neglecting to shoot at the enemy rifleman who is directly in front of them, and shooting at them. Or having every battery on the table shoot at the same target when there is a very real threat/target directly in front of them. This is the exact opposite of fog of war.

raylev319 Jan 2021 12:52 p.m. PST

Generally, in combat, you're going to engage the biggest threat to you….to you. Unless you want to overcomplicate a game, that means you're going to engage the closest target.

advocate19 Jan 2021 2:25 p.m. PST

In summary, I wouldn't say it's a myth. It's a mechanism that rule-writers choose to use – or not.
Like "Command Radius", it is a very rough and ready tool, but it is easily understood so may have it's part to play in a set of rules

Zephyr119 Jan 2021 3:05 p.m. PST

For my skirmish-level game rules, I use a "Threat Awareness" mechanic, in which the player can choose which activation die to use for the figure being played (this will be from 1 to 6), which represents the number of nearest opposing figures the figure can respond to or take actions against (obviously a '1' means against only the nearest figure, a '6' can be up to any of the nearest 6 figures away.) Realistic? Probably not. ;-) But it puts it down at the figure level (and rules exceptions can always be written in for certain situations… ;-)

Bronco Betty19 Jan 2021 4:30 p.m. PST

Are we looking at a solution in seardh of a problem? After all, we are playing a game and usually none of us will actually die if we make a bad decision.

It would seem to me that if, in real-life combat in WW
II, you are close enough to determine which of the two tanks in front of you is the Tiger and which is the PanzerIII, you may already be dead.


Wolfhag19 Jan 2021 4:43 p.m. PST

Roman legionaries were taught to stab the guy along from him not the man in-front.

That makes sense but it's probably because stabbing the guy to the right lets you stay behind your shield and is somewhat of a flank attack with
the enemy occupied with the Legionnaire in front of him. There was no chance he'd attempt to stab an enemy 2-3 ranks beyond him.

It would be interesting to hear from some 1980's to present tank crewmen as to what they trained on. From some of the accounts I've read the leader tried to exercise control.

This is from the FM 3-20.15 US Army Tank Platoon:

FIRE PATTERNS7-33.The entire platoon must thoroughly understand the three basic fire patterns—frontal, cross, and depth. In addition, each tank crew must understand its responsibilities, by SOP, in using the fire patterns for target engagement. The basic fire patterns cover most situations and promote rapid, effective platoon fire distribution. They are normally used in the defense, but may be modified for employment with movement techniques. They may be used at both platoon and section level. 7-34.Regardless of the fire pattern used, the goal is to engage near targets first, and then shift fires to far targets. Tanks should engage targets "near to far" and "most dangerous to least dangerous" in their sector. There are three levels of threat that classify the enemy: Most dangerous. Enemy is equipped with armor-defeating capabilities, which appears to be preparing to engage the platoon. Dangerous. Enemy is equipped with armor-defeating capabilities, which is not actively preparing to engage the platoon. Least dangerous. Enemy is not equipped with armor-defeating capabilities; however, they do have the communication capabilities to call other equipment that does have armor-defeating capabilities to engage the platoon. 7-35.As directed or when he determines it is necessary, the section or PL may make exceptions to the "most dangerous to least dangerous" guideline; an example would be engagement of designated priority targets (such as command vehicles).

Link: PDF link


UshCha20 Jan 2021 2:18 a.m. PST

79thPA this to be honest looks like the nearest rule is being used to prop up a bad set of rules. The Platoon should be allowed to hit the Radio man. However the price as in the real world would be high. The damage to the platoon fireing on one target and hence failing to at least suppress the rest of the enemy should result in a rapid demise for the daft player. If it does not it highlights a problem with the rules that needs fixing urgently. One of the ways we tested our rules was to attempt to break them. If it highlights serious issues then that is all to the good it sheds light on the effacy of the parameters selected to model and maye even suggest the initial parameters selected were incorrect.

John the OFM you have answered your own question. While the player has gods eye view his models do not. If the model has no LOS to the furthet target then it cannot be shot at.

The Virtual Armchair General – frankley your suggestion is just a cop out and adds more rules for little if any gain. It could still result in daft decisions that were arbitray or have so many IF,THEN loops that it would take too long to make it worthwhile by detracting from thespeed of execution which is critical in most time limited games.

By the way thanks for all thos participating, this is a debate about game desigh that has no sunk into the all to familiar abstrsct discussions on simulation.

UshCha20 Jan 2021 4:48 a.m. PST

Wolfhag as usual you have come up trumps with your link!

Para 7-37 Cross fire pattern. and figure 7-2 Perfect explosion of the myth.

I do wounder if the myth persists because of, to me, the greatest flaw in "traditional" games the horrendous Points system used as the be all and end all for some in deciding a win. If you allowed a Tiger to be shot at from an angle it would negate its high points value. It may also be why some games use bizarre range systems to again almost force head on engagements.

No SFMG's firing on FDF flanking lines except Us and hero Phil Barker and again contrary to nearest target myth but vital in the real world.

Wolfhag20 Jan 2021 5:58 a.m. PST

Just remember, when in doubt RTFM. Just about everything in my rules can be traced back to a manual or specific tactic. There are very few arbitrary or traditional rules.

UshCha, you have a point about the point system in games. It's what I call "gameifying" combat simulation. Point systems allow for a "fair" game but in real combat, you should never fight fair. Personally, I find it fun and challenging to be outnumbered 3-1 and give my opponent a bloody nose. I'll take a target-rich environment anytime.

The head-on engagements are mostly forced by the lack of space (unless you want to play on the floor) and model scale over 10mm. Tactically, tanks should be spaced 50-100m apart. So if you are playing 1"=50m with 15mm models you are going to get the parking lot effect. The only solution is an unrealistic range scale.

However, it appears for many people showcasing their models and terrain for maximum visual effect in a "fair" fight allowing players to tailor their forces is more important than trying to recreate what is in the manuals or historic AAR's. There is no right or wrong way to play a game and no governing authority dictating it.

All rule sets present a particular way to use different strategies and tactics, some are more realistic than others but most seem to have a high degree of abstraction to make them playable. That's just the way it is. Personally, I don't criticize people for what they prefer. We all process information differently to create our own realities.


UshCha20 Jan 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

Wolfhag, we moved to 1/144 to get a bit bigger battlefield. In Europe battle ranges ate really 1500m or less doe to the generally complex terrain that is worth fighting over. Even then table size is always 8ft by 6 ft so 2400m by 1800m so by picking the right bits you can get a reasonable company battlegroup engagement without too much space pinching. we apply a minimum no penalty spacing of 40m (40mm) which is not too bad with 1/144 models.

Its interesting 1"=50yds. In the UK that is a massive distance apart around 2.7 miles on our board. In reality even the 80mm mortars may be on table at that.

In terms of terrain it would be near impossible to reproduce it in any reasonable detail and even abstraction would be difficult.

A spot check of a open area near me indicates about 10 miles of road probably 30 miles of ditches all of which would be impassable to small 4 wheel vehicles (jeeps) and some to tracked vehicles (soft going and deep water features with steep muddy banks). 6 built up areas capable of hiding a a platoon or two.

In WW2 in big battles a mile a day was considered a good distance. I have the Maps for the UK cold war areas and an area 2.7 miles it would take enormous amounts of troops to defend. Germany has a village about every 2k (1 1/2 miles) in the UK TOO. Way past what would be possible at 1:1 vehicles never mind troops.

Wolfhag20 Jan 2021 9:51 a.m. PST

I like the 1" = 25m with micro and 10mm. But when we have an infantry heavy scenario 1" = 2m or 5m works best and it scales well up to 28mm figures.

Back on topic: I think defenders with good communication/radio can coordinate their platoon fire control to make sure each enemy unit is targeted for the first shot as they can engage at long range and then open fire to ambush. Attackers that are ambushed are most likely going to shoot the first target they can identify and the platoon leader will have minimum control unless there is some type of Battle Drill or Immediate Action to perform.


altfritz20 Jan 2021 1:16 p.m. PST

I always thought it was a rule to get rid of the 200 foot General. Prevent players from shooting at that unit way at the back b/c you know its going to charge one of your units in a turn or two, ignoring the fact that the gunners are probably not even aware of the unit nor what its possible charge targets might be.

I thought visibility in armoured vehicles was supposed to be limited. How do they get more than one choice of target given that fact?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2021 2:40 p.m. PST

Either I was unclear (not impossible grin) or you misunderstood me.
I'm not talking about a LOS for the shooting unit. I'm talking about the "brigade" commander.
Does the firing unit have Standing Orders regarding priority? I've played with Standing Orders, and they're a nightmare.
If the commander cannot see the preferred target, how does the firing unit override the "myth" of the closest enemy?

CeruLucifus21 Jan 2021 6:29 a.m. PST

The rule I learned was, if a unit has LOS to more than one enemy, and fails leadership check, it targets the nearest.

Or in other words, target the nearest enemy by default. For a different target, representing commander awareness and orders plus discipline and training by the unit, pass a leadership check.

If this doesn't provide the right feel, give the player some chits for automatic leadership success when retargeting, and he can decide when to use them. Call these chits "HQ Radio" in modern games, and "General's Messenger" in earlier eras.

UshCha21 Jan 2021 7:32 a.m. PST

JohntheOFM. I think is the former. Certainily in our games what cannot be seen cannot be fired on that Includes LOS and what others can see. We assume the player has GOD's eye view but except with beginners who don't really count, everything that cannot be seen is generally portrayed by a dummy marker unless its moving. That means even God's eye view is by no means perfect and if nobody can see the target and it was not registered before the game it can't be engaged now. With a VERY plausible excuse an unregistered target may be allowed if the player can justify why this apparently unoccupied terrain is now a threat but it has to be good.

altfritz there is always the "Observation over Preservation". Button up and poor visibility, unbutton and see more but at more risk. Generally somebody will have their head out of the vehicle so they can get a good view. Often "One Foot on the ground" somebody goes firm at a distance and pops the hatches open and the poor sod at the front may close up as he is closest but he has the eyes behind him to help his situational awareness.

CerLucifus not sure its perfect(none are, not even mine) but certainly that is one plausible route that is not arbitrary. I will bear it in mind.

Wolfhag21 Jan 2021 9:27 a.m. PST

The environmental conditions affecting the LOS will have a big factor in observing enemy units behind the ones closest to you. Haze, smoke, and dust is thrown up by moving vehicles will degrade visibility. From my experience, unless you have a good height advantage detecting the enemy that is not directly to your front will be difficult. I doubt that if in the middle of an intense firefight for your own self-preservation you'll spend valuable time searching for a command vehicle that is not immediately threatening you.

Many times command vehicles are disguised and they may be using terrain masking movement to limit their exposure. Support vehicles and AAA vehicles would be easy to spot but command units with more aerials sticking up may not unless under ideal conditions or before a battle starts, like an ambush.

In a small unit engagement that historically lasted 1-5 minutes losing a command vehicle may not have a big impact since all units were assigned an objective and if able would most likely attempt to take it. Then there is a second in command that can take over. In reality, sub-units do not need to be "activated" or ordered each turn to perform an action as many game rules use. We don't put models on the table unless the opponent has a LOS to it and we have some fake markers too.


UshCha21 Jan 2021 12:18 p.m. PST

Wolfhag +1

wargamingUSA22 Jan 2021 6:17 a.m. PST

Keeping in mind these are warGAMES -

@UshCha – posts two good thoughts for both game (and scenario) designers to keep in-mind…

"Like real generals they should be allowed enough rope to hang themselves. Fog of war and incompetence by generals is a thread running through real warfare, why would you write rules to eliminate such things?"**

"One of the ways we tested our rules was to attempt to break them."

@TVAG, stop making so much sense and coming up with simple, logical, and effective options/solutions!

**Having said that, we are working on a game mechanic that makes it difficult for unit commanders to send their recon units to the outer limits… a problem associated with many-most wargame rules. Just because a person or vehicle has X-limit, does not mean that they are always, or ever, working at the limit.

Skarper23 Jan 2021 3:40 a.m. PST

Agree – obligation to fire at closest target is easily exploited by cunning players.

Witness the Vehicle Bypass Sleaze in Advanced Squad Leader.

UshCha23 Jan 2021 4:10 a.m. PST

WargaingUSA, to me this looks like you have issues somewhere else. Getting to the limits of recon is hard, even now you often need to travel at night and the further in you go the more likely you are to be intercepted and eliminated. With Radio you probably need to move off before communicating so they don't find where you really are. Plus distance equals time lag and stuff could change between the observer and the base the further apart they go.

Where we used recon correctly in our "Campaigns" there real job we found was watching roads to see what size forces were either moving or being supplied down a particular route. Its rare to actually find single infantry positions. That is a gamey solution. Too much of what is in a war game has little or no connection with reality. It took many years to unlearn much of the drivel that is incorporated in many games. Even when we had removed it from the rules, unfortunately old bad habits die hard.

wargamingUSA24 Jan 2021 6:55 a.m. PST

@UshCha – "Getting to the limits of recon is hard…" exactly the point. Yet, gamers often use their "full movement," accounting for whatever terrain modifiers apply, for a recon jeep, Sdkfz 222, or painted pony, just because it is listed in the game's rules. Which takes us back to the idea that gamers "should be allowed enough rope to hang themselves" and the discussion point of nearest target priority. The relevant discussion then being "when does a recon element fire at any target?"

These rules give recon stands (we are talking stands equal platoons with secondary stands, including smaller recon elements, being sections, detachments, teams etc…) minimal firepower… which should discourage players in their semi-right mind from over-extending into precarious isolation. But, some game commanders will always be foolish commanders. (A "strategic" recon element is an entirely different animal and its placement will be the result of an entirely different type of infil technique and it will almost certainly be covert or clandestine in its mission orientation; so not a movement concern in game terms.)

Two cents worth.

UshCha24 Jan 2021 11:37 a.m. PST

We spent a lot of time trying to understand Recon. Our reading is that a lot of close in Recon in a war game is worthless. In reality our gaming tables are effectively good maps that tell us much more about the environment than even a real world map. River and ditches are already classified and gradients and crest lines are well defined. The very nature of a normal Gaming table gives you vital clues you know (generally) that the enemy is here not someplace else. That is the job of near and close recon already done. If you use dummy and real markers that the Recon having further done there job indicating lightly position for the enemy.

In reality then on most games recon should not be there. However it now becomes a quandary for some, they want the models and an excuse to put them on regardless of reality. This is where Gamers and simulators part company.

Recon can be used on a typical board but only vs other light recon is screening while the other is probing. Even here its very cat and mouse and most of the time movement is on the map of the table. Not one for the model obsessed,

The needs of a simulator and a model collector war gamer are to some extent mutually exclusive in some areas.

Wolfhag25 Jan 2021 3:17 p.m. PST

Please clarify, "Getting to the limits of recon is hard".

The relevant discussion then being "when does a recon element fire at any target?"

My opinion is for light recon (up to 20mm guns)to assume a concealed position and then observe for a while and then use recon by fire from about 1000m away to help clear the way.

In a movement to contact recon would be at the head of the column and upon contact screen the main column allowing them to deploy or conduct an ad hoc Recon in Force to breakthrough.

Other missions would be pre-game like zone and route recon, patrolling EPOW capture, combined with ELINT, air photo recon and HUMINT. A prepared assault would give more time for a better overall picture.

If the recon units have a height advantage they can be in a better overwatch position to spot enemy activity while the attack progresses.

Other ideas: link


wargamingUSA26 Jan 2021 6:31 a.m. PST

@Wolfhag – for me, I read UshCha's comment to mean that recon elements operating at the limits of their movement-comms-fire support is a difficult task and I agree with that thought. Flinging recon elements around a table "at their limit" is the action of a reckles and unconcerned game commander.

Since I am thinking in game terms of Recon & Surveillance (R&S) at the tactical level (Bn-TF-KG), and am dealing with game mechanisms integral to those games, I am not focusing on the "other missions" you noted. They are vital, and fully integrated R&S should be a command concern, so I'm not saying they shouldn't be accounted for in certain scenarios; its just my belief they are more scenario designer considerations than they are rules concerns.

Recon elements screening and probing will likely fire in one of two instances – a) get the enemy's attention and briefly interrupt his movement… so typically fire and then quickly get out of Dodge, or b) for self-preservation after being identified by enemy forces.

Other types of recon, both static and mobile, are looking to identify enemy forces, actions, and positions, and the only real reason to fire is self-preservation or, in very specific instances where the target is a smaller/lighter enemy element, to destroy it and remove some of the opposition's eyes and ears capability.

Yet, many gamers foolishly employ recon forces as though they are the fleetest-of-foot ambush or stand-and-fight elements.

@UshCha – you say "Our reading is that a lot of close in Recon in a war game is worthless." I'm not sure what you mean. That conclusion seems at odds with your desire to have the tabletop reflect as much historical or functional "realism" as possible. Game recon can be valuable and an important aspect of play if you are using dummy stands, terrain that is not fully identified, have interrupted LOS, etc…

What about a river ford that can only be identified by a stand within x-distance or by viewing other entities using the ford? If you want to confirm a natural or manmade terrain feature shown on a scenario map? If you want to have "eyes-on" to note any hidden movement at or through a point to which your forces don't have LOS? We seem to find plenty of opportunities for recon to add value to our game scenarios so perhaps emplying recon in games is more a matter of orientation or preference than an ability to acount for the action.

1.5 cents worth.

UshCha26 Jan 2021 12:11 p.m. PST

WargaingUSA, I think you hit the mark, we are probably talking different levels of game. You are representing much larger areas so what I describe as a big game in terms of area is actually your normal game.

At your level the recon of the attacker has the need to get through the defenders recon (who are in screening mode) to get a view of the Main EA. The Attacker has two options, attempt to Fight through the enemy screen, potentially much faster but at much greater risk or go slow and infiltrate through which takes a lot of time. Also my bad I did not ask what the limit of their movement you were considering. I was assuming a potential of at least a night to move into a position of observation where it may not be a good option to move again until the following night.

Scenarios at my level would be Recon trying to get through the Enemy's screen to as a minimum, define where the main EA is and what it looks like and at least identify poorly camouflaged positions. But all that gets fun as certainly Brits will have Section, Squad and Platoon Ambush positions on the main routes to the EA they are protecting in addition to the Recon screening less obvious routes of advance by enemy recon.

Effectively I was assuming the Table represented the Main EA or at least a part of it, hence most of the recon is done and the Big boys are moving in to take the EA.

wargamingUSA26 Jan 2021 1:46 p.m. PST

@UshCha – One artificial constraint that always impacts use of recon is the size of the board relative to the size of the forces involved in the scenario. A 5' x 9' board is a typical tabletop battlefield for us. I'm guessing for your games that table size represents a much, much smaller patch of ground than it does for us.

(my apologies for temporarily hijacking the nearest target focus of this thread.)

UshCha27 Jan 2021 12:09 a.m. PST

wargamingUSA you are correct a standard table is only about 2500 yds by 2000 yds so very small for a recon game.

Our big games are multi evening game played on a carefully designed "virtual" table 24ft by 6ft, but such that it represents "typicaly" a series of routes that are only 2ft wide in places. While not perfect it does get the flavor of the world being really big and complex.

As to sidetracking the thread no worries, but to be honest its not reaslly a sidetrack. Modelling is complex and cannot take an exclusive view of one aspect. The recon may well be one of the areas where the myth is daft. Recon may have Rules of engaement that require them to shhot at a target type. An example might be to shoot at an air defence system from affar, ignoreing tanks closer and then get the hell out as there airborne friends can now fly through and some come to protect them as they go home.

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