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"Target Priority Rules" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian09 Feb 2021 12:54 p.m. PST

Some rulesets try to prevent unrealistic gamer tactics by requiring targets to be determined by priority rules, with the idea that the firer would target the most obvious, visible threat.

How do you feel about target priority rules?

* I love them
* I like them
* meh
* I dislike them
* I hate them

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 1:39 p.m. PST

They are a good idea in my opinion.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 2:24 p.m. PST

I like them.

SgtPhilco Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 2:33 p.m. PST

I like them as well

Wolfhag09 Feb 2021 2:39 p.m. PST

This is what I use from "Tank Platoon" Army Techniques and Procedures:
PDF link

Description: FIRE PATTERNS
7-33. 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).


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 3:20 p.m. PST

Meh. If you use them, you get the miniatures equivalent of the old AH "soak off units" sacrificing themselves to divert fire from units their commander cares about. If you don't use them, the gunners may let themselves be overrun to deliver fire on a priority target--especially on the last turn or so. Both situations can be unhistorical. When writing rules, I generally don't use them, because that's shorter. But I can't say they're wrong.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 3:23 p.m. PST

Not in favor of restricting player decisions in this way.

I do support "Stupid is as stupid does." rules for such situations.

So f'r'ex in tank rules being discussed elsewhere, I would not tell the player what they can and can't shoot. But if they want to wheel the turret 180 degrees and fire at something behind you, you would incur a movement penalty, a big to hit penalty, and probably risk breaking (temporarily, maybe) the turret.

We have a similar thing in some individual close combat rules. It's a cinematic combat ruleset, but the more cinematic you get, the more you take capability away from other things you could do, reduce effectiveness, and risk dropping your sword (temporary degradation) or stabbing yourself (sometimes, rather dearly). It makes for some epic last ditch efforts, many of which are (fun) epic fails.

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 4:03 p.m. PST

Answer (1) if simple enough

1. Shoot back when under fire
2. Closest (visible) target within X distance

Command roll/pip could be used to shoot at a different target than above

I'm not sure that anything else would give a playable game

I know nothing about post 1950 with more sophisticated command and control and target acquisition

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 4:20 p.m. PST

Played one set of ACW rules where if you wanted to fire at a target different than one within charge range you had to pass a morale check

While I agree with Robert about units soaking up fire – I have also seen the artillery sacrifice themselves to fire into another part of the battlefield – ignoring a close by unit

I dont like to clutter up rules so am fine leaving with the battlefield commanders – but I am not opposed to similar to the ACW example mentioned above

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 4:20 p.m. PST

I'd prefer there to be a "Threat Level" mechanic. If a unit is under assault or imminent threat of assault, it will shift fire out of necessity for self-preservation. Otherwise, it should follow orders and put fire where directed.

A real-world example of this is a standard engagement rule where tanks engage tanks, IFVs fire at IFVs/soft-skinned vehicles/helicopters, and smaller crew-served weapons (think a .50 cal or Mk.19 on a humvee or APC) engage infantry and soft-skinned vehicles.

However, tanks would engage infantry if they were within assault range (in the real world, "assault" is the final stage of an "attack", characterized by the final push across the objective with maximum violence) or wielding antitank weapons. An final desperation measure is known as "final protective fire", where all heavy weapons in the company turn to pre-assigned azimuths and unload every round they've got. The FPF was intended to break up massed infantry assaults like we saw in Korea and Vietnam.

Wolfhag09 Feb 2021 4:57 p.m. PST

I think these are all good suggestions. My entry is a suggestion for players on how a real crew would engage, however, I agree with letting players be stupid if they like, take chances, etc. Players don't always take advice. After all, there should be some real skill involved rather than the rules overriding the player decisions all of the time. I'll admit that at times new players have surprised me at what they'll do right if you let them.


Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 10:59 p.m. PST

I generally like them. I think of the players as taking on the roles of overall commanders for their sides. Commanders have incomplete, albeit substantial, control over the individuals that make up their unit. Accomplishing the mission with only the control that you do have makes a game that is more fun and challenging than a game where every individual unit's actions can be controlled for perceived optimal outcomes.

Morale rules, target priority rules, and orders (both orders from the commanders to the units on the table and orders received by the commanders) are all ways to achieve the objectives of challenge, realism, and fun.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2021 5:11 a.m. PST

I think they are important for age of sail games to prevent players taking ridiculous shots through a line of battle to engage something well behind.

Levi the Ox10 Feb 2021 1:14 p.m. PST

I prefer to have most units target the enemy opposite them, reserving concentration of fire on specific targets for situations where prior planning or leaders allow for improved coordination in that moment.

UshCha12 Feb 2021 6:54 a.m. PST

I think the problem is that where target priorities are counter intuative, its an indication of a greater failing somwhere else in the rules. If insanity is causd by last bound effects, then clearly the problem is not target priority but the victory conditions.

One has to ask what distortions in the game favor generally targeting a farther target unrealisticaly.

There we some very intereting outcomes in the Nearest Target Myth thread that in some ways is a subset of this wider thread.

Targeting for instance bridge layers inseaed of ememy tanks may be valid, keeping the tanks at distance by prevention them crossing an obsticlke may be worth the lives of others to save more folk.

It also questions whethet the perception of identifying targets at distance is valid. In recent discussions between outselves it was interesting to debate for instance, when telescopes and then binoculars were generally available. Its great a general detecting some far off specific target but the artillery battery may need a runner to tell them that some distant target is actually worth the additional risk.

So am I anti target priority rules, the answer is no, but they needs to be a serious look at why they need to be there, all too often they may be sticking plasters for a more severe issue.

Wolfhag on the nearest target myth exposed an issue in our own rules, the rammmifications of which are still being disscussed. Target priority's is a toiugh and complex subject to get right.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2021 7:35 a.m. PST

The players usually have a similar grasp as to what needs be done,like closest dangerous for the shooter. The problem arises when something which is likely tasked to supporting its own organization shoots a far away unit that needs be say adding its points to it,in times without coms to call.
Any rigid rule will produce odd things at time, player are like lawyers, on the edge of the possible.
In games with a compressed scale, it is less acute. In ww2/ modern, games, if the ground scale allows far awy shooting , it can easily become silly.
All games that add firing points before rolling, or support fire to the dice push more towards the strange use of artillery.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2021 8:09 a.m. PST

I am with the "depends" In a 1:1 skirmish it is entirely likely that troops might gang up on one enemy rather than targeting someone merely because they are closer. Always bear in mind that by doing so it may be opening up the firing unit to unintended consequences (like having the unmolested enemy get even closer and in a better firing position)

Wolfhag12 Feb 2021 8:25 a.m. PST

There is actually another tactic used for Platoon or Company Fire Control when engaging targets. As the platoon leader, you don't want all of your vehicles ganging up on one target. IIRC the platoon leader would designate targets for each tank and have them engage the enemy in the formation flank and move towards targets in the middle. This would take additional time to perform that the platoon commander may or may not have. It appears it would work best from a concealed ambush.

Russian anti-tank gun batteries would be linked to coordinate their fire by the battery commander. Normally, all of the guns would fire at once on the same target to ensure destruction. I'm not sure how German Pak Fronts dealt with this issue.

In a chaotic situation without the direction of a leader tanks would probably engage the most dangerous threat to them so game-wise it might be random leaving some enemy not engaged.


UshCha17 Feb 2021 2:21 a.m. PST

Wolfhag, I have read of the fire by battery but I assume it was done as the gunners were of a poor standard. German 88's in ambush with the ground sights were expected to hit first shot about 95% of the time as range was well understood. So shooting say 5 guns at one seems excessive unless it was assumed that the changes of penetration were low, or that the gunnets were so bad that sensing the range by individual guns was not a reasonable appraoach, and ideas?

Wolfhag17 Feb 2021 7:23 a.m. PST

I agree and unfortunately, I can't find the reference right now. Just like any tactic, it would be flexible depending on the local circumstances. It also could have been a pre-war tactic that evolved later. Originally, Russian T-34/76 tanks fired at single targets by platoon (3 tanks) but I don't think the T-34/85 did.


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