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Subject: Overview of the GMT Panzer - copied posts from ConSimWorld rss

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Joel Tamburo
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These posts are copied from ConsimWorld and are by Jim Day, the Designer:

Quote:
Jim, for my part (as an owner of the games in their previous incarnations) I would like to know the relationship between the new GMT version and those that have gone before.

That’s a very good question. I’m going to assume for the sake of this discussion we're also including MBT/IDF, since those board games also track their lineage back to the original Panzer series.

The GMT version of Panzer owes it roots to those games as well as the Panzer Miniatures Rules. MBT/IDF evolved from the original games by simplifying some aspects, e.g., dropping simultaneous movement, increasing the scale from 50m per hex to 100m per hex, and changing to a six-sided, hex-based hit angle methodology. Design improvements were made to the infantry rules, command and control rules and morale effects. Of course, those games required some additional complexity due the requirements of modern tactical combat.

The Panzer Miniatures Rules took the current gamer preferences into consideration by simplifying some aspects further to streamline and speed up play. The data cards were also reduced in size requiring that some of the data, especially the armor data, be streamlined in presentation. Enhancements were again made to the infantry rules, command and control rules and morale effects. The sequence of play also evolved to a hybrid sequential system where the player/side controlling the initiative acts first in most of a turn’s phases.

I believe that element is one of the most significant improvements in the game system. Through that process, the superior force, from a command and control standpoint, dictates the flow of battle, albeit never as a sure thing since no such thing exists in combat. For example, that’s one of the reasons the Germans defeated the French in 1940, as some of the French tanks were actually superior designs to their German counterparts. Of course, command capabilities at the platoon and company level also came into play with many of the French tanks lacking radios (yes, that element is also in the game as an optional rule). I believe this approach provides for a much more realistic outcome at a tactical level than artificially increase or modify individual units’ performance to accomplish the same outcome. Not specifically considered is a nation’s strategic vision of how armor should be employed. That is reflected in the scenario’s OBs and the TO&Es for specific units.

The new data cards display more information than the Panzer Miniatures Rules and are what I believe to be the best approach to show all the critical information. The GMT game maintains the 100m per hex scale as I think that provides a good balance for potential ranges on a typical game board and the fact that a typical tank platoon has a battle space of over 100m. The game scale is intended to support more than one unit per hex, just not an entire force. That works hand-in-hand with the command and control system as there is a command range or span that units from the same platoon must maintain (advance game element) to enable certain command efficiencies.

Speaking of the advanced game, the rules are organized into basic, advanced and optional sections. That way the players can not only quickly dive into the game but can also tailor the complexity to their own tastes. You can play with just a few tanks or all up with all of the advanced rules and options to suit your own style.

I’ll be posting more information here also with some additional examples and AARs. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
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Joel Tamburo
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Re: Overview of the GMT Panzer
That's a perfect leadin to an explaination of Panzer's Sequence of Play. Please reference the following image from the game. It outlines the sequence of play broken down in the same manner that the rules of play are organized: Basic Game (black text), Advanced Game (blue text) and Optional Rules (green text).



Let's address the Basic Game elements of the Sequence of Play.

1] Spotting Phase: Resolve all spotting attempts.

2] Command Phase: Place commands. One of five possible choices – Fire, Move, Short Halt (Fire then Move), Overwatch, or No Command.

3] Initiative Phase: Determine which side controls the initiative for the current turn. The controlling side is the First Player during the following phases.

5] Combat Phase, Direct Fire Step: The First Player, as determined above in the Initiative Phase, resolves all Direct Fire from those units with Fire and Short Halt orders against spotted targets. All resulting damage is applied before the Second Player resolves Direct Fire. The Second Player then resolves all Direct Fire from those units with Fire and Short Halt orders against spotted targets.

5] Combat Phase, Overwatch Fire Step: The First Player’s units with Overwatch orders may resolve Direct Fire against those units that fired in the Direct Fire Step. Note that Overwatch Fire is voluntary. Then the Second Player’s units with Overwatch orders may resolve Direct Fire against those units that fired in the Direct Fire Step. Overwatch fire may trigger a series of fire responses.

6] Movement Phase, Movement Step: The Second Player resolves all movement for those units with Move and Short Halt orders. Note that movement may trigger Overwatch Fire from any of the First Player’s units so ordered that didn’t fire during the Combat Phase. The First Player then resolves all movement for those units with Move and Short Halt orders. Note that movement may trigger Overwatch Fire from any of the Second Player’s units so ordered that didn’t fire during the Combat Phase. Overwatch fire may trigger a series of fire responses.

8] Adjustment Phase, Pivot Step: The players simultaneous pivot all eligible units.

8] Adjustment Phase, Adjust/Remove Markers Step: The players simultaneous adjust and remove all appropriate markers, e.g., Order Markers.

So, all units resolve their shots on an individual basis as either the First Player or the Second Player. I’ll be posting additional information on sequential vs. simultaneous fire, command & control, and morale.
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Joel Tamburo
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Re: Overview of the GMT Panzer
Sequential vs. Simultaneous Fire


Let me speak to the logic behind sequential vs. simultaneous fire. With the original game’s simultaneous approach, I received many comments, and I personally observed situations where the superior forces were not afforded the proper recognition of their qualitative advantage. They should expect to get off the first shot MOST of the time. That is why their initiative advantage is not an absolute one — no guarantee. For example, if you look at the total number of T-34s lost during the war to that of Tigers, there truly was a qualitative advantage. The initiative may go one way or the other; that is truly the nature of tactical level games. At times, the balance hinges on just a few events – the trick is to control, dictate or minimize those times or be prepared to, in a sense, ‘roll-the-dice’ on the potential outcome. It is reasonable to expect that a superior force should generally control and dictate the action at a tactical level. With strategic level, or even operational level games, those outcomes tend to balance out.

In addition, having just a grade modifier is not enough of an advantage for the superior troops since that offers little if any difference at point blank range. Remember, that the rule-of-thumb for the US Forces was 5 Sherman KOs for every Tiger KO. The war’s final outcome came down to a numbers issue where quality just couldn’t ultimately defeat quantity.

I have often also seen the reverse situation take place where a superior force was counting on controlling the initiative and then at the most inopportune time they lost it. That’s why in Panzer you place your order chits BEFORE determining who controls the initiative – one should not be able to totally predict the future.

What I think you will now see with this system is a change in tactics. I believe it more accurately simulates the real action – it has a good feel to it.
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Joel Tamburo
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Re: Overview of the GMT Panzer
Command & Control


The Command & Control system in Panzer is based on a company-sized unit as the smallest formation for management. The system uses five distinct order types: FIRE, MOVE, SHORT HALT (fire-move), OVERWATCH and N/C (no command). Command Control limits the number of unique orders (for the four types other than N/C -- any number of N/C orders may be placed) that may be placed within a formation for each turn. Given the limited number of available orders, it means that one or more units may share the same order, only if they are within command range of one another. Those units must follow the rules that govern order sharing, such as staying in command range when moving and firing at the same target with Overwatch Fire – there are also other rules.

Another key element of the system is Initiative. When determining the initiative, a single player from each side roles the two percentile dice (Panzer is a base 100 system so it uses two different colored d10s to determine results) applying any modifiers for force grade. The Force with the higher modified result wins the Initiative for the current turn. That Force becomes the First Player (resolves Direct Fire first and moves second) for the turn. The losing Force becomes the Second Player (resolves Direct Fire second and moves first).

Let me take a moment to discuss initiative and my thoughts behind it. First of all, initiative is not determined until AFTER all orders are place. Players do not have the advantage of knowing who will control the initiative when determining their orders for their turn. In that way players can not know before hand that they will move second and therefore have the advantage of pre-knowledge of their opponents’ positions. This simple rule makes a very big difference in how the game plays.

I view initiative, as the means a superior force dictates action and controls the flow of battle. A superior force should expect to have the initiative more often than the opposing force, but this is not guaranteed. Again, since orders are placed before initiative is determined, a superior force can anticipate controlling the initiative, but it is not an absolute. That is where you will see forces hesitating – which you would expect in battle, especially from an inferior force.

In Panzer, Grade is a static trait. However, Grade goes had-in-hand with Morale. The Morale System is a separate concept from Grade. Think of Grade as knowledge and training to carry out tasks where Morale is the ability to carry out those tasks. A unit does not lose its knowledge or training in effect becoming dumber or untrained, but as its Morale changes, its ability to effectively execute tasks becomes more and more impaired.

During a game, battlefield events affect a unit and its formation’s Morale. These can be singular events or an accumulation of losses that basically render a unit/formation ineffective.
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Joel Tamburo
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Re: Overview of the GMT Panzer
Morale: Break Point & Cohesion


The Soviets Forces have a lower break point than the Germans? Does that mean they are a superior force in Panzer. The Soviets do have a lower basic break number than the Germans. Keep in mind the fact that the Germans will typically take longer to reach their Cohesion Point. So, the Soviet forces typically check for breaking before the Germans ever get to that point. That is one of the unique aspects in Panzer – while cohesion and breaking are both part of the Panzer Morale System, they are different aspects.

Also keep in mind that Grade also modifies the break determination roll. Given that the German forces are typically a higher grade that also brings the probabilities closer to equal.

After researching a great number of accounts, I determined that the Soviets were very good at standing and fighting in spite of absorbing tremendous loses. If you compare the combat casualties between the Soviets and Germans, you would think that the Germans were the victors, however, as we all know, that was not the case. The Soviets also had a great deal of incentive to advance or stand and fight given that the Soviet NKVD troops were waiting to shoot any soldiers returning from the front lines. The rank-and-file soldiers had a choice, move forward or stand and fight and possibly survive or break and run and surely get shot — that was a difficult, but essentially an easy decision.

I believe that all too often, morale rules are one of the methods used to tip the balance in favor of the Germans to demonstrate their basic superiority. That basic superiority really is not a point of contention. However, in my opinion, that does create an artificial and unrealistic imbalance in games. It is very common to hear that in many game systems you cannot win with the Soviets – that is certainly not the case in Panzer. Let’s not forget the basic fact that the Soviets did defeat the Germans. They had to win sometime.

In reality, they achieved victory by winning many tactical encounters. Even in 1941, when the Soviets were at their worst and the Germans were possibly at their best, there were a number of cases where Soviets forces defeated the Germans in tactical set-piece actions.

So, as a consequence, the Panzer break point/cohesion system is my attempt to simulate WWII armored warfare on a balanced level.
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Rob F
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A belated thanks to you Joel for posting these.
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