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The Thoughts of Chairman Tone.

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Abstracting the Firefight

Anthony Simons
United Kingdom
Royal Wootton Bassett
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A couple of months ago I set down some rules for a skirmish system. They're still rather sketchy, and sooner or later I intend to make a set of components to properly test them with. Initially I tried them out using parts from other games, but those components were not entirely suitable.

The design intent was (and is) to produce a squad-level wargame which can be played as fast as a real firefight (or as near as is practical). The first means of abstraction had to be fire and the effects of fire; second was movement and positioning of units; combining these elements provided the opportunity to fill in the gaps.

I decided that casualties, morale and initiative were of primary importance; but often checking their effects takes an inordinate amount of time. Therefore, to cut down on the time taken determining such effects, I used a fixed pool of tokens. As players spent them for actions and to apply fire effects on enemy troops, the total available would fall. At the point they held less than their opponent, initiative would pass to the other player.

Movement would require a fixed cost for the terrain, with one token applied to the moving unit (as movement draws fire); also, the extra cost of tokens equivalent to those already applied reflected the added difficulty of advancing a suppressed unit.

Effective fire required a number of tokens applied to the enemy unit (by the firing player) depending on the effectiveness of the unit firing (adjusted for terrain). There would also be a cost to fire, equivalent to any tokens which had been applied to the unit (for either effective fire from the enemy or to cover the fact the unit had moved).

Effective fire would also require spotting; a unit could only be spotted if it already bore tokens (from movement or effective fire) and was within the LOS of the firing unit.

When both players had depleted their tokens to the pool or to the board, the turn was considered over and a single roll would ascertain morale and casualties for any given unit, reducing the number of markers on that unit. Then units are retreated, removed or casualties applied, before tokens are replenished and the next initiative determined.

As far as terrain goes, I decided the use of a hexgrid in a relatively unconventional manner was the way forward. Each hex would effectively have twelve facings (through the points and sides) and thirteen positions (including the hex centre). Movement was based on moving a complete hex or less, with each such movement taken individually to allow op fire from the enemy (the only action allowed without initiative).

I feel it works well and works fast; but have a lot of tweaking to do before I present it to anyone (including its own set of maps/units). One of the aspects that needs work is the probability of a single player dominating the battlefield too easily; I am working on this, but it will take some time before anything sees the light of day.
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Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:03 pm
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