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GameTalk - Small Arms Combat



--- Quote ---Ranged combat is a simple enough concept Ė try to hit something thatís far away from you with some kind of projectile Ė but in practice, hitting your target and causing damage can be a difficult task. Many wargames donít model things like rate of fire, ammunition supply, or effectiveness
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I tend to think that most board and computer war games tend to get this more wrong than right. The reasons for this vary: from gameplay concerns - something needs to happen to engage the players on each turn/impulse/etc. - to neglect when it comes to question designs which are sometimes taken off the shelf at face value.

Right now I'm involved in the research phases of a war game development, and I am doing a great deal of reading on tactics of the 1689-1763 era. I do not think I have ever played a game that captures in a meaningful way the quite intrincate relationship between drills and maneuvers - the way the commander's intent is implemented on the battlefield, the actual capabilities of the equipment at hand - effective fires generally happened at extremely short distances shorter than allowed in most designs due to hex size constraints, and the psychology behind the behaviour shown by men under fire. In most of the designs I do see perceived benefits from specific firing systems being addressed in detail (by assigning particular ratings to units depending on their organisation), and devoting precious little attention to other aspects equally, or perhaps more, important to really get a good grasp on what warfare was at the tactical level in the 18th and 19th century.

Regarding WW2 the only board game design that seems to get small arms fires effectiveness right - and its effect on soldiers behaviors and tactics - is "Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles" by Worthington publishing. The designer's notes are a delight to read. In computer war games, the only game out there I would give any kind of credibility is Combat Mission 2.0 - there you can visualize very well the interplay between tactics, psychology and technology.

Battleground World War II (skirmish rules for 28mm miniatures) does a good job of modeling these things. There are separate die roles for hits and effects. It's one thing to hit a target, it's another to affect it. KIAs aren't easy to come by, you're much more likely to suppress or wound. The rules do an excellent job of emulating fire and maneuver tactics. Lay down suppressive fire and use you're maneuver element to go in for the kill.

A lot of the guys I played with had a tough time adjusting to the concept. They were expecting a lot of hits and a lot of kills. At one point, some of the guys redid the hit and effect charts to make it more "killy". I wasn't in favor of the change. The game rewarded smart tactics, real world tactics that worked in WW2 largely worked in the game. You get your KIAs with some patience and a little skill.

I'm not a fan of the trend in miniatures games to "streamline" game play and capture everything in a single die roll.

Rex Brynen:

--- Quote from: mirth on October 13, 2014, 05:37:09 PM ---I'm not a fan of the trend in miniatures games to "streamline" game play and capture everything in a single die roll.

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Agreed. I like to have my probabilities of seeing, hitting, and affecting/killing the enemy quite separate.

I think that it obviously depends on the scale of the game but you can get nearly ridiculous and meticulous with detail for hit chance percentages, ammunition expenditure by the round, damage to the human body and terrain and morale and suppression effects with something like Phoenix Command.  Many other miniatures rulesets also model these things in great detail (think of the old RPG's like Boot Hill for example). AH's old Firepower models it with great detail and games like WEG's Soldiers models it to a good deal of detail as well.  These examples are mano-e-mano style games so the detail is intricate.  There's also not a whole lot of soldiers to track in most cases with these games. 

Jumping up to squad level, ASL begins to abstract things like ROF and ammo shortage.  Morale is modeled and in fact is quite pertinent to the game but it is modeled on the squad as a whole, the same with damage.  I think that LnL, CoH and any other squad level game does this as modeling individual soldier effects when you have a company+ on the map is just too much.  PC games can do it and Combat Mission mentioned above is a prime example and that would go back to the argument of "why boardgame when there's a PC game that will do it all for you if you just click several times" (wait, that's not quite what the thread was entitled...uh hmmmm).

Jump up to platoon level with Panzerblitz/Panzer Leader or Avalanches' Panzer Grenadier and it becomes the entire platoon that has the effects abstracted upon it. 

So I'd say it depends on the scale.  I can think of a number of more games than those I've listed that do model individual rounds expended, hit chances, penetration and damage at some great detail but again, they only have a squad or two per side on the map at most usually (if that).


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