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"Restricting tank reactions" Topic


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Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2021 3:43 p.m. PST

I realise it's not real tank warfare, but playing an online game has brought home exactly how vulnerable a tank can be to infantry – if they aren't in the arc of the vision block they can sneak around the sides, or just lay in wait.

How do I stop a buttoned up tank reacting to something that in reality it couldn't see?

Berzerker7326 Jan 2021 4:26 p.m. PST

Great question, playing Battlefield V videogame, tanks are very vulnerable to roving infantry.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2021 4:54 p.m. PST

Some type of spotting rules, and maybe a rule that requires units to follow orders until they see something that causes it to react.

It's a problem with just about all games no matter the time period. That's why you can pull your cavalry off your left flank and send them to support your right flank before your commanding general even knows what is going on.

Legion 426 Jan 2021 5:13 p.m. PST

I think Wolfhag has some good rules for this …

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2021 5:36 p.m. PST

The simple approach is to restrict all behavior, without being specific what caused the restriction

So, in this case, infantry advances on rear of tank – a threat

If the tank receives an activation, they saw the infantry and can react

If the tank doesn't receive an activation, they didn't see the infantry … or didn't see them as an immediate threat or had run out of MG ammunition and so on

Otherwise you would want some kind of threat assessment rule with modifiers for tank being buttoned down, skill of crew, type of threat, type of cover infantrymen have etc. This could get complicated very quickly. Of course, the crew could have spotted the potential of a threat earlier and have been tracking the progress of those sneaky infantrymen. The infantrymen could attack, and if the attack fails, the tank crew may still not know where the attack came from, or whether it was infantry or another tank …

What my suggestion doesn't cover is the scenario where the tank is happily taking shots at a distant target before it gets ambushed

John

Wolfhag26 Jan 2021 9:55 p.m. PST

Last Hussar,
If you are having that problem it normally means your buddies are not watching over you to "scratch your back" with their MG fire to keep enemy infantry away.

I think jw webster is on the right track. Here is a diagram of the Blind Spots for a Panther and T-34. Generally, if an infantryman can get within 25m he has a free pass to do whatever he wants. You can find some good 1st person accounts by the Finns against the Russians to see how they did it.

These are the blind spot arcs for the Panther and T-34. An infantryman getting within that area is pretty safe from return fire from a buttoned-up tank.

Generally, if a turreted tank is engaged and shooting the crew's attention is focused on the front with a blind spot outside their 60-degree arc and needs a radio warning to detect enemy infantry nearby. However, the Russian T-34/85 had a Gundlach periscope that easily checked his rear arc taking only a few seconds to do so. It's a British design.

Warning: I don't use unit activations so this may not work for you.

I approach it as a Situational Awareness and timing issue. It was not unusual for crewmen to toss grenades over the side to deter brave infantrymen as they moved through their position. A tank could be in "self-defense mode" with crew members that have a hatch are popping out ready with grenades and SMG's to stop infantry attacks. That's excellent Situational Awareness to defend. However, their Situational Awareness to engage a vehicle will be degraded.

If the tank is moving through defensive trenchwork there is a good chance a tank killer team can see them coming and position themselves out of sight to be close enough to toss a mine in front, attach an ATM or toss a Molotov Cocktail when the tank gets to the trench. Throwing grenades from inside or in Self Defense Mode is about your only defense.

My system works like this: Units are always "activated" like in real life and able to react to new LOS created by movement, shooting, etc. unless it is in their blind spot.

Let's say the situation is a static buttoned-up German Panther and a Russian infantryman is concealed 50m away at 9 o'clock. He pops up to make a break for the Panther. This creates a new LOS the Panther immediately reacts to with a Situational Awareness Check (includes spotting and reacting) that involves a die roll with 2-3 modifiers. The result can be that he spots the Russian right away or an Engagement Delay of a number of seconds before being spotted and it may be too late. Reacting does not necessarily mean going into action right away. It's a playable gaming mechanism.

The Russian is running at 5m/second so within 5 seconds he'll be in the Panther blind spot and in another 5 seconds he'll be placing the ATM unless he's stopped. If the result of the Panthers Situational Awareness Check (kept secret from the Russian player) is 0 seconds he detected the Russian the moment he left concealment and a result > 5 seconds Engagement Delay means he looked to his 9 o'clock but didn't see the Russian as he was already in his blind spot. If he spotted him right away but was not ready or have a pistol port to shoot through he could tell the driver to move out. If the Russian waited until the buttoned-up Panther was within 25m he'd be in the Panther's blind spot and it could not react to stop him.

Now if the Panther was in Self Defense Mode he'd most likely spot the Russian soon enough to react and get a burst off from his SMG. All units with a LOS to the Russian can react the same way and change their order to engage a more dangerous threat. If the static Panther had some buddies behind him they'd have the Russian in the front/overwatch arc and most likely spot and engage him within 10 seconds before he reached the static Panther.

Your Situational Awareness is based on the direction your turret is facing (overwatch). We don't determine the direction the commander is looking at any moment and we don't search sectors like some games. Better crews will have a smaller delay and poor troops a bigger delay.

What my suggestion doesn't cover is the scenario where the tank is happily taking shots at a distant target before it gets ambushed

I play it that the shooting tanks need a radio warning to take action. This can take from 1-10 seconds. We're also using a 6th Sense Check allowing the tank a 5%-10% chance to notice the threat creeping up on him.

That's the long explanation of how I do it. A simpler way would for any game is for every 5m the infantry close assault guy needs to move is a "1" so 25m is a "5" and 50m "10", etc. The defending tank could roll a D6 with a + modifier for being buttoned up and flanked and a – modifier for frontal arc and unbuttoned. Vet crews a – modifier and poor crews a + modifier. If the result is <= the infantry factor time to attack he's spotted in time to take action and shoot or move. If the tank is buttoned up and a result >= 5 the attacker got into his blind spot and is free to attack. This event could be in addition to your normal "activation".

We do the same thing for HHAT weapons like Panzerfausts. It takes about 5 seconds for a guy with a prepared to fire Panzerfaust to pop up from being concealed, aim and shoot. You need supporting infantry to counter that. Each infantry with a LOS to the Panzerfaust gunner reacts with a Situational Awareness Check the moment he pops up into LOS and a result less than the gunner's time of 5 seconds means he gets a shot off. The gunner needs to wait for a flank or rear shot to be successful or suppress the escorting infantry and the defending player needs to place his escorting infantry so they can react with a minimum of Engagement Delay so you'll need a few trailing 25m-50m behind to be in position.

I hope this helps.

Wolfhag

UshCha27 Jan 2021 12:51 a.m. PST

wWell like Wolfhag I am a Heratic. We do it in a very simple way BUT at a huge cost, you have to have models that you are prepared to turn the turrets on, a step to far for some moddlers!

Then its easy, tanks see anyting in th open straight in front, thats the driver he can't spot, he has othet things to do. If the tank is unbuttoned it can see 180 degrees centered on the turret. Buttoned up just 22.5 degrees either side of the main gun. Oh and within 30m the tan'k cant see the ground or grunts on it if buttoned up. Verty crude but simple and not too much of a simplification.

Now its easy, if you can't see it you can't shoot it. If you move the turret traverse to look where the shot came from you won't see anyting easyly so a hard spot roll.


That is a fix to almost any rules that are 1:1. We do it a bit more elegantly, but then thats to fit our rules and not a near universal fix although a bit crude. Like Wolfhags sytem accidentally you fined yourself travelling in formations like in the Manuals so you get extra benefits in tank battle credibility.

Based on the Maneouvre Group strategy, the player may have God's eye view but his minions do not share that advantage.

Martin Rapier27 Jan 2021 4:45 a.m. PST

The simplest thing is to have a dead zone around each tank, like Uscha, we also use 30 yards, which seems a reasonable compromise.

I like the idea of differing forward visibility based on buttoned status, I'll borrow that:)

Thresher0127 Jan 2021 1:30 p.m. PST

I agree with much of the above, and think about a 10% chance of a spotting roll, outside of a 45 – 90 degree arc for buttoned up vehicles would/should work.

I would permit the driver to spot (to the front only), and the turret too, which is why, tactically, platoons would have their turrets facing different directions tactically, when on the move, and/or even when halted, to cover those.

Spotting from the buttoned up positions should be more restricted, with a lower chance to spot than when viewing from open hatches. Perhaps even permit the TC, if unbuttoned to spot in a third direction, if desired (probably best for smaller, skirmish games, and not large battles, if 3 spots per vehicle are permitted).

For the tank commander, when unbuttoned, spotting to the front, as usual for a 90 degree angle – 45 degrees either side of the gun barrel. A front 180 degree chance of spotting, with much lower peripheral vision chances – e.g. say 30% in either of the side, 45 degree arcs. Perhaps a 10% chance for spotting to the rear, if declared.

One way to handle the above would be to for TCs to have to declare their spotting/viewing priorities, and then roll a D20 to determine if they succeed, e.g. focusing 100% of the time to the front (really concentrating, and perhaps even using binoculars) gives 100% chance to have a chance to see stuff in the front arc ONLY – no need to roll the D20, since this is automatic (just then roll for spotting of units in the open, in cover, or moving, as your standard rules permit).

Example 2 – split search – 60% to front, 15% front left, 15% front right, 10% rear (these ratios can be changed at any time by the player/tank commander, up to and including a full frontal, or full rear, or side search, as desired – max total = 100% for all directions). Roll the D20 (5% chance to spot per point allocated to each search sector)- results as follows:

1 – 12 = spotting to front;
13 – 15 = spotting to left front;
16 – 18 = spotting to right front; and
19 – 20 = spotting to rear.

Then, once the sector the spotting is occurring for this turn, roll to actually spot opponents, as usual.

Example 3 from above:

1 – 17 = spotting to front;
18 = spotting to left front;
19 = spotting to right front; and
20 = spotting to rear.

Example 4 – tail end Charlie, pulling rearguard for the unit in a road march/advance, and responsible for covering against attacks from the rear:

Not Applicable = spotting to front;
N/A = spotting to left front;
N/A = spotting to right front; and
1 – 20 = spotting to rear.

UshCha27 Jan 2021 3:46 p.m. PST

We use 90deg either side of the gun unbuttoned and 22.5 deg either side of the gun buttoned up. We don't allow viewing outside that arc. The reasons are as follows:
1) Players have gods Eye view which we can't stop only minimize. Player can turn the turret to look in that direction anyway if he forgot to look. which is a typical delay better than a 1 in 10 roll.
2) As a matter of principal I dislike low chance rolls as a game designer. In small numbers the statistics of small numbers makes them erratic in the number of rolls that occur in a typical game.

What really supp rises me is that the only game other than ours that does anything like this is Wolfhags and that is a similar age to our rules. Why has this been omitted for so long in mainstream games? Even where mutiple tanks are represented formations apply read any tank manual.

When talking to a Chieftain Tank Commander he said our buttoned up view was far too good. He described it as looking down the tube of a toilet roll.
3) Such items slow the game down which in of itself degrades the quality of the simulation, if you can't get enough bounds in to get the ebb and flow of a battle.

Tanks in hull down positions have vision angles reduced, unbuttoned they can see a greater arc than they can fire for instance. Buttoned up is similar but with even less viewing angles.

In our rules Stationary tanks can have a third viewing Arc, driver, gunner, TC.

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2021 4:41 p.m. PST

These are all good replies thanks.

Caveat The game is an infantry game, for between a platoon and a company. The major difference is that movement is by 'areas' you can move one area when a unit is activated. The slower the going the smaller the area, so a grazing field with firm earth is approx 50m, while mud could be as small as 15m. Woodland always has the same effect on shooting, but the areas can be different sizes, depending on how open it is.

Activation is by card draw 1 card per section. Turns are somewhere between 15-60s I reckon.

*

To further my knowledge more:

Infantry AT Do I understand that there is a delay in firing?
At the moment I have Reserved status when a base is activated it can be marked 'Reserved', and thus fire when an enemy moves or fires in LoS. This firing happens after the original firer has finished calculating his effect. This makes sense to me you are reacting to someone, but can't necessarily preempt them.

Do Bazookas/PIAT/Panzerfaust need the firer to sort of 'pop-up' and ready the weapon, giving the 'Reserved' infantry a chance to react? I'm hoping it does there is a scenario there "Escort these tanks through that close terrain".

What I don't want for tank spotting Infantry is too many mechanics I am aiming for a simple engine, so a move is played quickly I'm trying to catch the mood of small groups of men scurrying between cover and then firing. Literally the most complicated thing in it is sharing out fire points between bases that are close together.

*

The other question is unrelated, but also about a crew reaction.

Many low level games have a sort of 'hit point' mechanism did you damage the gun, or maybe the movement etc…

To me it seems either a tank is fighting, in which case the amount of damage done is not enough to worry about, or bad enough the crew abandon the fight. There is no 'main gun still firing, but bit dented/sights are off/etc.


Incidentally, I work with a bloke who used to drive Chieftains; because he is colourblind and the lamps are just coloured, not symbol shapes like in a car, he Dymo'd all the lamps so he knew what was going on! Other blokes who looked in went 'That's a good idea'.

Wolfhag27 Jan 2021 10:42 p.m. PST

Thresher01,
That all makes sense. I was going in that direction but I needed something simpler for solo play. If you give players "priorities" it will always be in the direction of an enemy model, even if out of the LOS. If you have a "priority" then face it/overwatch. That's why formations are important to cover the entire area of potential engagement as UshCha indicates. So directly to the front is almost 100% with decreasing chances to the flanks and rear. Ideally, someone else is watching your rear.

What really surprises me is that the only game other than ours that does anything like this is Wolfhags and that is a similar age to our rules. Why has this been omitted for so long in mainstream games? Even where mutiple tanks are represented formations apply read any tank manual.

My opinion is that it seems there are many players that like a simple game the revolves around abstracted die rolling. Hit on a 3+, Panther armor 8, Sherman armor 6, when "activated" do almost anything you like with very few restrictions. Why turn turrets when it has no effect on the game? If people want to play a game mainly to showcase their models and terrain skills why muck it up with "complicated rules". Hey, that's fine by me, I don't criticize people's tastes in cars, guns, games, rules, or women.

Last Hussar, I think what you are attempting to portray in your "Reserve" rules is a technique I call "Hold Fire & Track". It's mainly used for concealed units to trigger an ambush. In your system a when a unit "activates" it selects a target in its LOS. He can then fire in any later turn when the target gets closer, presents a flank shot, etc.

Do Bazookas/PIAT/Panzerfaust need the firer to sort of 'pop-up' and ready the weapon, giving the 'Reserved' infantry a chance to react? I'm hoping it does there is a scenario there "Escort these tanks through that close terrain".

I would say of course it does. Based on a turn of 15-60 seconds escorting infantry should react almost immediately to any new LOS like a HHAT gunner popping up (weapon deployed, loaded and ready to fire) in their front 180 degrees. Based on training videos of German Panzerfaust gunners and my experience firing a LAW and M79 grenade launcher I'd say about 5 seconds to pop up, acquire the target, aim, and fire. Of course, that's against a target you were already aware of.

The ISIS type groups in the mid-east would have a 5 man unit, 4x AK's and 1x RPG. Popping out from a building to fire the RPG is suicide. The tactic is for the 4x AK's to lay down cover fire to give the RPG enough time to shoot.

Wolfhag

Legion 428 Jan 2021 9:10 a.m. PST

Wolf +1

Bill N28 Jan 2021 9:15 a.m. PST

How complex do you want your rules to be?

Two advantages of computer games are that a large number of variables can be factored in without play having to be stopped, and the computer system acts as a referee on all rule interpretation questions, again without stopping play. In miniature wargaming factoring in all the variables that would affect reaction time could slow the game to a crawl.

In our very simple rules a tank could spot any non-hidden object that was in front of it. It could also spot any non-hidden object that was in the direction the turret was facing. Everything else required a die roll. The rules put a premium on tanks advancing in a mutually supporting formation or tanks having adequate infantry or artillery support.

TheNorthernFront28 Jan 2021 10:05 a.m. PST

I think the simplest solution is to have rules outlining fire arcs with a restricted fire arc when buttoned up. The reaction a player will be pursuing is to fire on an attacking infantry team. If he can't fire on the enemy unit due to his fire arc then the problem is solved. A tank should only be able to move its turret at a limited capacity during a turn. Some tanks better than others. The player will need to use another unit nearby to help the tank fend off the enemies assault.

Wolfhag28 Jan 2021 12:13 p.m. PST

TheNorthernFront,
That makes sense. I agree about the turret traverse but most motorized turrets traverse from 10 to 30 degrees per second. A game system using turns from 10-30 seconds would realistically allow almost unrestricted turret traverse in a game turn.

Bill,
What time scale are you using for a turn?

In miniature wargaming factoring in all the variables that would affect reaction time could slow the game to a crawl.

I agree as it's a balance between accuracy and playability.

I see low-level combat (1-1 vehicle and team/section) as a time competitive environment where seconds count in two main areas: Situational Awareness and how long it takes to perform an action like shooting. There is enough good information out there to estimate to a high enough degree of accuracy for playability things like reaction times, reload times, turret traverse time, and rates of fire.

The way I see it each unit on the battlefield is operating within its own time competitive OODA Loop "bubble" (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) interacting with every other friendly and enemy unit with the quickest executing first.

Experienced crews have better SA and act quicker giving them a timing/initiative advantage over poor crews. However, using proper tactics, maneuvering, and suppressing the enemy the poor crews can "seize" the initiative from better crews.

Situational Awareness: Realistically, units are always "active" and observing in an attempt to react to threats the second they occur in your LOS. Under ideal conditions, they observe and the crew goes into action against a threat the second it is observed. Under less than ideal conditions (as defined in the game) it will take additional time/seconds. I call this an "Engagement Delay" and increases the amount of time to get through your loop giving the enemy a timing/initiative advantage to act/execute his order before you.

So if an enemy unit appeared on my flank and I had poor SA and he had good SA it might actually take me 8 seconds to notice him (an abstraction of the crew and TC performing other duties with attention elsewhere, looking through his binoculars where the enemy is not, etc). If it takes him 7 seconds or less to shoot if he misses I can react to the shot (better chance of observing a unit shooting without a delay). If he hits and penetrates I'd be completely surprised having never "noticed" him because of the Engagement Delay. He "seized" the initiative by being quicker through his OODA Loop and acting before me.

I think real combat can be described in game terms as "I go before you go because I'm quicker. You go after me if you are still alive". In real combat, there are no activation or initiative rules the combatants play by, they operate against each other within their own OODA Loop bubble.

Units are always active and observing (can change orders to engage a new threat) and initiative is "seized" with randomness normally playing only a small part and good tactics, tactical deployment, risk-reward decisions, and better crews being the determining factor.

As soon as an action is executed the player "loops" back to Observe and determines how long it will take to get through his next OODA Loop and hopes that he is quicker than the enemy that may be targeting him. Exactly when you will execute your order is kept from your opponent creating a Fog of War.

There are a number of ways to simulate that interaction. My approach is what I call, "Playing the Loop" where a unit's Situational Awareness in Observe (how quickly they detect and go into action against a threat) and how long it takes to perform an action like shooting determines how quickly each unit will get through their individual OODA Loop to Act or execute their order and then loop back to do it again.

I use a manual game clock (NOT A REAL ONE) for the players to track the second-to-second time. A player can "stop the clock" to perform an action or react to an action. As each second is announced all units scheduled to Act do so. If there are no actions to be performed the game clock "ticks" to the next second always moving to the next action without activation or initiative rules. It works extremely well for solo play.

Wolfhag

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP28 Jan 2021 6:00 p.m. PST

I remembered earlier one of the ways infantry support would help in game terms. When you fire you work out the fire points, and place them against the target base(s).

However those FP are not resolved until that unit activates. Depending on what they chose to do depends on what the To Hit number is, and the effects of shooting can cancel the action. If I add in that Reserved fire happens BEFORE a AT weapon popping up to fire (rather than after in reaction to the firing)

For instance, An Allied Section/Squad puts a German squad under fire, and during this the Panzerfaust base accumulates a total of 5 fire points*. We place a 7mm dice 5-spot to show this.

Its card is drawn, and the player states the panzerfaust will fire at the Sherman it can see.

Because the base has declared a 'Fire Action' the FP resolve on a 5+; roll 1d6 per FP, all 5 or 6s hit. Anything affecting the strength of fire – cover, state of firer etc, are calculated into the fire points.

The German player rolls 1,2,2,5,6 – 2 hits

For every hit rolled (2), roll 1d6.
1- No effect, 2-3 Pin (can fire at minus, no movement), 4-5 Suppress (no fire or move), 6- 'Kill' and suppress.
(Kills aren't necessarily a dead man, it is a permanent loss of morale and fire ability). 3 'Kills' removes the base. Pins and Suppresses don't stack

With 2 hits the 'faust has a 75% chance of going 'to hell with this – too many bullets' and ducking straight back down. (The chance of rolling 4+ on either of 2 dice). If he rolls only pins, or 1 miss, one pin, he can still fire but at a negative to hit.

*The record was about 24FP, where a German section came under fire by the best part of a platoon, for 2 or 3 turns before their activation card came out!

Because you know the volume of fire you put down, but not the effect, you have to make a call – do you fire some more, or do you close in for the assault, not knowing what state the defenders are in. (Obviously the ones with 24FP were 'upset').

Bill N28 Jan 2021 8:42 p.m. PST

Bill,
What time scale are you using for a turn?

Officially it is undefined as is the ground scale. Unofficially what happens is based on what could reasonably happen within a minute.

I am sorry Wolfhag but I don't agree with your SA and OODA Loop analysis, at least when applied to WW1 and many WW2 tank actions. There are too many variables, even when dealing with "alert and aware" tank crews.

My initial response was way too long, so I will offer up this briefer one. Activation rules (which I don't like or use, except for determining when reinforcements arrive) and die rolls are simply gimmicks for dealing with these uncertainties. That the gimmicks themselves are not realistic does not mean they don't serve a realistic function.

I've never used clocks as you indicated. It does remind me of something some model railroaders do.

Thresher0129 Jan 2021 1:03 a.m. PST

For my suggestion, I was thinking hidden placement of the defenders.

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2021 4:46 p.m. PST

Bill, how do you decide who goes when?

KenofYork01 Feb 2021 5:00 a.m. PST

One thing I noticed about tanks while learning how to use an anti-tank weapon. (LAW)

The tank had a range of 1100 yards or more with just the machine gun. Plus enhanced targeting and optics.

The anti-tank weapon had a range of perhaps 100 yards but the odds of hitting decreased if the tank was moving.

1000 yards is a very, very long way if sneaking to avoid getting killed by a machine gun.

The idea of limiting action based on visible arc ignores the possibility that the crew is using open hatches until the last minute.

Not sure tanks should ever go in to an urban area without infantry on foot directly with them. In this case I would rather have that LAW. Driving blind down a street in to an enemy occupied city seems like suicide.

In open ground infantry would never get close enough to hurt them unless the tank was out of ammo.

UshCha01 Feb 2021 9:23 a.m. PST

KenofYork, certainly we always allow tank crew to go un-buttoned but this does represent a risk to crews from about 1100yds. If enough climb out you can have 360 deg vision but something has to give, the gunner will not be on his sights for instance. At this range an infantry element may begin credible shooting which the crew either risks or buttoned up. In one of the manuals it suggests the infantry fire at tanks with small arms to make them button up restricting their visibility.

In addition the Brits for instance may have covered positions even in relatively open ground so the tanks may come close to the infantry without knowing, if they have noinfantry in the front to flush them out.

Wolfhag01 Feb 2021 11:34 a.m. PST

Bill N,

I am sorry Wolfhag but I don't agree with your SA and OODA Loop analysis, at least when applied to WW1 and many WW2 tank actions. There are too many variables, even when dealing with "alert and aware" tank crews.

That's OK, you're not the only one. What variables would you say are too many? Can you be more specific?

This is not my "analysis" of the OODA Loop as I'm not doing an analysis. I'm using it to determine the timing and sequence of actions between units in a time competitive game environment just as John Boyd would with the focus on gaining a timing advantage. It's pretty simple but it is a different approach than traditional rules.

I guess a clock would remind you of a railroad station. It could also remind you of watches almost all soldiers wear and stopwatches instructors and trainers use to determine the efficiency of their units and crews. The "clock" we use is just a piece of paper with squares numbered 1-60 to keep track of the time in the game and the game time a unit will "Act" (shoot). The clock manually "ticks" ahead as each second/turn is announced to all the players. If there are no actions to perform or SA Checks the clock "ticks" again to the next second and the next turn is immediately announced. If there are reactions or actions the clock "stops" for players to perform their actions and then it starts up again when they are finished.

The gameplay is always moving to the next player action to execute from a previous order (orders are not executed immediately) or SA Check which is why there are no activation or initiative rules needed. You could look at it like a stop-action video game or a version of IGYG where "I go before you go because I'm quicker". That's basically what the OODA Loop is all about, isn't it? It's not something you need to teach players as it's a natural decision-making process that unfortunately most I think most traditional game rules interrupt the player's natural use of the OODA Loop. I think it's a good solution for low level 1:1 combat but not so well for higher levels.

US Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Tactical Decision Making: "Whoever can make and implement his decisions consistently faster gains a tremendous, often decisive advantage. Decision-making thus becomes a time competitive process and timeliness of decisions (OODA Loop) becomes essential to generating tempo."

Some quotes from Otto Carius Tigers in the Mud: If the commander is looking through the left vision block when an anti-tank gun opens fire from the right, then he will need a long time before he identifies it from inside the buttoned-up tank." Everything depends on prompt identification of a dangerous target, usually seconds decide. What I said above also applies to tanks that have been equipped with periscopes."

The two quotes above are what I'm attempting to portray in the game. Time competitive using seconds means you need some sort of device to keep track of the seconds of time, like a clock, there is no getting around it. Now if your solution is an abstraction or estimate of time using activations, opportunity fire, and initiative rules without discreet timing, that's cool too. I've played them for decades; they just don't work for me anymore. In a time-competitive game, the player's attention is focused on reactions and how long it takes to execute an order (hoping to act before his opponent) with several historical "Risk-Reward Tactical Decisions" that real crews were confronted with to address the "Speed versus Accuracy Dilemma".

Regarding SA in the game: You're right, there are a lot of factors. In my game players do not determine which direction a crew or commander is looking, search specific sectors, or exactly what the tank commander is doing at any particular moment (using binoculars, reading a map, lighting a cigarette, using the radio, the commander's astigmatism, gun sight fogging up, taking a leak into an empty shell casing, etc.) as that would be pretty unplayable and stupid to do.

How long it takes to react to action is somewhat variable but there is fairly good information from training manuals, AAR's and from tank crewmen that have helped me develop and playtest the game. I've also been fortunate enough to have spent some time in tank turrets and get technical advice from museum curators including driver/mechanics at Kubinka in Russia and former tankers with experience on many WWII tanks.

I'll admit, developing the SA rule mechanics of how and when a crew could detect a threat and how quickly they could go into action was difficult. We tried many formats. There are no formulas from the "experts" that I could use. We tried various traditional rules like spotting, # actions to perform in 2-10 second turns, etc but it didn't have the right feel, was too cumbersome, and not time competitive.

The second a threat comes into your LOS you may notice it right away or "need a long time" as Carius said. The time lag to notice the threat in seconds is what we call an Engagement Delay resulting from less than ideal SA. Good SA is unbuttoned unrestricted 360 degree, good crew, not engaged or suppressed, over watching in the right direction and not being surprised. Poor SA is from being buttoned-up, poor crews, moving, busy engaging the enemy, suppressed, and being flanked/surprised (overwatch in the wrong direction). While tanks and assault guns engaged and shooting will have a much harder time noticing threats outside your 60-degree arc even if unbuttoned. Open top vehicles and anti-tank guns are not restricted.

Realistically, when an enemy threat performs an action in your LOS there is a chance to notice and respond to it the second it occurs (real crews are not artificially "activated" or waiting for their "turn"). In reality, if not spotted right away because of poor SA, distractions, etc. each second the new threat stays in your LOS you'd have an increasing % chance to notice it and respond. As Carius said, it can take a long time. However realistic that is, it's not playable in a manual game (at least beyond my design ability). Making the player roll the dice for a spotting check each second was not playable either so we use an "Engagement Delay" as a result of an SA Check if not noticing the threat right away to determine how long it will take to notice it.

An SA Check involves rolling 1-3 D6 (depending on open-top, unbuttoned or buttoned-up) plus 1-3 positive or negative modifiers (2nd-grade math). If the result is <= 0 you noticed the threat right away (good SA) and can go into continuing through your loop to take action to move, shoot or issue an order and record the game time you will "Act". If > 0 that is the number of seconds of Engagement Delay before you notice (poor SA). Record that clock time and when the game clock "ticks" to it you now notice the threat and can go into action, if you are still alive of course. So if the game clock shows 3:27 and a threat in your LOS is reacted to with an SA Check resulting in a 5-second Engagement Delay the crew notices it to go into action at 3:32. The result is kept secret from your opponent and works very well for solo games.
I think you can see why there are no initiative rules.

I've personally experienced situations in the field where I snuck up on an unsuspecting adversary and have had people sneak up on me too. It happens. In the game positioning vehicles and where the turret points are where the crew's main attention is going to be vital to good SA. That means player skills and proper use of formations and historic tactics are more important than the roll of the dice which is playing only a minor role.

SA is variable, hard to exactly predict and I admit somewhat subjective. IIRC one source claimed an unbuttoned tank was 40% more effective than a buttoned-up one but I can't locate it right now. One game restriction is that engaged and shooting tanks and assault guns have a blind arc outside the 60-degree arc they cannot react to because the crew and commander are too busy when observing and shooting to their front. Open top vehicles and AT guns do not have a blind arc. Each vehicle has a customized line on the SA Chart considering their advantages and disadvantages related to SA like two-man turrets being forced to button up when engaged and shooting, poor optics, no cupola, moving, suppressed, etc.

Player Generated Delay: Because all units on the table are active and observing the player himself always needs to pay attention to the action on the table just as a real crew would. At any second the clock "ticks", a moving unit could generate a new mutual LOS that can be reacted to by all units with a LOS to it and change their order to engage it. If you don't notice it right away and your opponent does you are giving away precious seconds of initiative/first shot to him.

If a game time is announced when one of your units should shoot (Act) and you as the player miss it too bad, poor SA by the player will have consequences in the game. Pay attention. If the player notices it a few turns/seconds later he can now shoot if he is still alive. You snooze you lose. There is more reliance on player skills, tactics, and decisions and less on the dice or rules.

I've had several former tank crewman play that gave it a thumbs up and it's simple enough a 14-year-old playtester with some learning difficulties was able to play. It's not perfect but is playable and keeps everyone busy and attentive, that's the most important thing.

Wolfhag

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