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Subject: Firing at units declaring movement rss

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Michael Dorosh
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I posted the following in response to a thread in one of the ASLSK forums, but thought I may as well bring it up here. I did a search for the obvious search term, and was surprised not to see a thread on it. Probably for good reason, so I'll try and couch this in terms that will maybe look like I'm not completely beating a dead horse.

In any event, the topic was raised about the ability to avoid direct defensive fire by moving one hex then advancing back in the Advance Phase (you all know what I'm talking about).

Someone posted in the other forum:

aslskfan wrote:
The simple answer to the problem (if you think there is one) is to have residual fire last until the end of the Advance Phase.

I thought about this, and without debating the "reality" of the situation - which has been done ad infinitum elsewhere - I proposed an alternate suggestion:

Another "fix" would be to permit fire on a moving unit while still in the hex it originates its movement from.



In the example above, it is the Russian Player Turn. The 4-4-7 in Z3 declines to Prep Fire. In order to avoid being subjected to Defensive Fire, he can Move from Z3 to Z2. In the APh he can move back to Z3 and thus avoid any fire from Z5 during that Player Turn.

With a slight change as above this would be eliminated. With this minor change in place, the Russian player must announce that the 4-4-7 is moving to Z2. At that moment, the 2-4-8 in Z5 can declare a fire attack while the unit is moving, in hex Z3, at a range of 2 hexes, with a +2 DRM for wooden building and -1 DRM for FFNAM, unless the Russian has also declared an Assault Move.

If broken, the results would be applied in the hex being moved into since the fire occurred during the act of movement. (In other words, if no result, the 4-4-7 moves to Z2, if broken, a broken counter is placed in Z2, etc.)

I think you would very neatly do two things:

a) simulate better the hazards of exposure when leaving an occupied position, and
b) eliminate a controversial and "sleazy" feeling game practice.

You'd also have more of an interactive flow-type feel to the turn structure, which was the original intent of the phased turn system to begin with.

Movement draws the eye, and there has been a disconnect in how troops leave foxholes (additional MF), but simply dash away from windows and doorways in buildings and scoot out the back untouched. Permitting fire against them while in the hex they start their movement from would address this inconsistency without adding additional complex rules, need for more MF, etc. You could address two rules issues with one small change.

----------------------------------------

The likelihood of substantially changing the ASLRB at this point is minimal, but for purposes of discussion, if there was ever going to be a v3.0, would this merit consideration? Thoughts?

One immediate downside is that it seems to fly in the face of conventional wargame mechanics - permitting an attack based solely on an intention to move, and an imagined motion within the hex itself. It's also a fudge to "fix" a condition that not everyone perceives as problematic. I also admit I haven't fully considered the implications on other rules - a challenge (not a bad one, necessarily) with such a complex and inter-related set of rules as the ASLRB.
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isn't this "skulking"? And I believe I've heard it said that nothing can be done about it since it's so integral to the balance of many scenarios.
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Michael Dorosh
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
nothing can be done about it since it's so integral to the balance of many scenarios.

I'd be interested in reading more regarding that angle. Is there a detailed summary or comparison?

Especially interesting would be a set of playthroughs, where defensive fire shots were taken against units in defensive positions, and other playthroughs where defenders were permitted to move away from such fire. I can see it making a large difference in frontal assaults, less so, say, in meeting engagements with lots of room to maneuver.

If your proposition is true - it makes sense on the face of it, though not everyone has the same level of concern re: perfect balance - a positive spin would be there would be an opportunity to revisit a lot of scenarios to 'rebalance' them with the minor change suggested above.

I'd be interested to see the change suggested above implemented to see just how much of a difference it would have.
 
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Russell D
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Michael using your variant, if the Russian squad in your image were to move in its Mph to Y4 and then X3, could the German squad fire on it twice, once as it enters Y4 and once as it leaves Y4, with FFMO and FFNAM on both occasions? That would seem to be non-intuitive and make manoeuvre much more punishing.

I've been playing ASL for almost two years, and while in theory I'm sure the rules could be improved, I think the game's popularity and success stems from the fact that it has kept a consistent ruleset. I can play scenarios that came out yesterday or decades ago, I can play against a fellow newbie or an experienced player, all without any problems.
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Michael Dorosh
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angelgabriel wrote:
Michael using your variant, if the Russian squad in your image were to move in its Mph to Y4 and then X3, could the German squad fire on it twice, once as it enters Y4 and once as it leaves Y4, with FFMO and FFNAM on both occasions? That would seem to be non-intuitive and make manoeuvre much more punishing.

No. It would apply only in the hex it originated its movement from, at the start of its movement.

Quote:
I've been playing ASL for almost two years, and while in theory I'm sure the rules could be improved, I think the game's popularity and success stems from the fact that it has kept a consistent ruleset. I can play scenarios that came out yesterday or decades ago, I can play against a fellow newbie or an experienced player, all without any problems.

I agree. The confusion around the Bridge TEM, for example, was a minor tempest - admittedly, something had to be done due to the misprint - as I recall, this was a minor mistake when reprinting the 2nd edition? But confusing enough as to serve as a cautionary tale against tinkering further. Good points.
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Brent Pollock
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Ah, the "scenario balance" guys always crack me up. They act as if every ASL scenario out there has undergone some sort of extensive Quality Control process and modelling on a NASA supercomputer. Ask yourself this, "do you want to play a scenario that hinges so heavily on skulking?" I usually just either have them withdraw fully to the next line or blast away in the PFPh - it's way more fun.

Otherwise, skulking is just one of those things (like "sleaze freeze") you have to shrug and accept when playing without variant rules to address them. It can be fixed with Michael's suggestion, forcing infantry units to have a facing like the vehicles/big guns must and force them to pay MF to change facing before they move, or make unit's roll a TC before moving/advancing, etc.
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I agree there needs to be more evidence for this strategy being responsible for play balance. Not sure that the designers intended it to be so, in any case. I'm all for a fix.

I'm not sure how residual fire works in ASL, but if that's an option it seems like a simple one. Though, what would us simply SL players do? I'm not crazy about DF happening in the starting hex as a blanket rule because that would make it possible to target a unit twice in the same location, but I do like the idea of there being some cost to moving out of cover. Well, it makes sense for buildings, at least, where everybody filing through a small opening means the movement would take longer. But could this be applied in enough situations to solve the problem? Because, I'm not sure that it works for woods, for example.

Another possibility, though perhaps not as elegant, is to allow the Defensive Fire "phase" to extend throughout the turn, and therefore into the Advance Phase. (I never did understand why any unit should be granted a free move like this anyway-except that it seemed to be how they solved the move-into-close-combat issue.) The "Defender" would have to keep a unit available to do this if he wanted to, which changes some of the strategy around this situation, but might be a bit more realistic.

I've toyed with a "simultaneous" movement system and one of the ideas I like as part of that, is that every action taken by a unit makes it vulnerable to defensive fire (including routing btw, which is probably the one rule, which I've had the most issues with).

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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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The simplest solution to skulking is proper application of flanking positions. A German unit in X4 prevents skulking entirely.

Also note that the Russian unit is forgoing both prep and advancing fire to execute this little maneuver.
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T. Dauphin
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sdiberar wrote:
The simplest solution to skulking is proper application of flanking positions. A German unit in X4 prevents skulking entirely.

Well, this is not always possible.

sdiberar wrote:

Also note that the Russian unit is forgoing both prep and advancing fire to execute this little maneuver.

This is a significant sacrifice, agreed.

I'm reminded, by this situation, of descriptions of tank battles where one side would take advantage of the crest of a hill--by popping into view just long enough to fire off a shot, and then retreating back over the crest again. Repeatedly doing this, apparently allowed some tankers to have considerable success. I always wished I could use this strategy in a game, but the +5 movement penalty doesn't make this one work very well at all. Not everything translates to a simulation, I guess.

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Brent Pollock
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sdiberar wrote:
The simplest solution to skulking is proper application of flanking positions. A German unit in X4 prevents skulking entirely.

Also note that the Russian unit is forgoing both prep and advancing fire to execute this little maneuver.

What took you so long? Someone always comes along to defend skulking this way.

How many times have you read of historical accounts wherein flanking was used expressly to prevent enemy units from stepping out back of a building to have a quick pee or drag on a cigarette before getting back into their firing position? Flanking fire is another thing not handled well in ASL. The closest it gets is wall/hedge/hillock and Encirclement. Flanking fire requires that infantry units have a fixed facing/CA. Then you could do something like doubling the firepower or giving some sort of TEM or ML drop for the effect of the incoming fire.
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Michael Dorosh
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To be honest, I do like the notion of infantry facing. Seems much more elegant and would provide the same effect. Interesting discussion all around, better than I had hoped (or feared).
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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WBRP wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
The simplest solution to skulking is proper application of flanking positions. A German unit in X4 prevents skulking entirely.

Also note that the Russian unit is forgoing both prep and advancing fire to execute this little maneuver.

Flanking fire is another thing not handled well in ASL. The closest it gets is wall/hedge/hillock and Encirclement. Flanking fire requires that infantry units have a fixed facing/CA. Then you could do something like doubling the firepower or giving some sort of TEM or ML drop for the effect of the incoming fire.
Flanking fire is covered by encirclement, as you mentioned, and by cutting off rout paths, which is one of the most significant keys to good play.
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Willow Pearson
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I see skulking as an abstraction of blindfiring; while annoying, it does tie that unit up, so just get your own units into an enfilade position.

Unless he's* the attacker, in which case let him* waste his time

(* or she's/her, in this age of gender neutrality and whatnot)
 
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Michael Dorosh
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ASLNoob wrote:
The biggest problem with using persistent Residual Fire to attempt to prevent skulking is that you would be shooting at empty hexes in an attempt to place Residual that would affect the unit when it moved back in.

Yeah, precisely. One oddity in place of another.

I guess one other thing (a major change) is just getting rid of the Advance Phase altogether and permit movement into an enemy-occupied hex during the Movement Phase.
 
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
ASLNoob wrote:
The biggest problem with using persistent Residual Fire to attempt to prevent skulking is that you would be shooting at empty hexes in an attempt to place Residual that would affect the unit when it moved back in.

Yeah, precisely. One oddity in place of another.

I guess one other thing (a major change) is just getting rid of the Advance Phase altogether and permit movement into an enemy-occupied hex during the Movement Phase.

This works for me, too. A few details would have to be worked out, such as allowing the attacked unit to break/rout first if it chose or had a choice, and what to do about the lost movement. But I think these things are easily resolved.

 
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Mike Owens
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It's an interesting proposal, but I'm not sure what problem it intends to fix. Nor am I sure that the fix isn't worse than the problem.

But, more significantly: In the example above, if you, as the German player, are relying on breaking a Russian 4-4-7 with a 2 (+2) shot, whether as in-hex First Fire on an announced Assault Move, or in the DFPh, well....that's not going to be a winning strategy.

If you want to make reality arguments, I can counter in the above example that the Russian squad drops to the floor and low crawls out the back of the building across the Z2/Z3 hexside, a hexside to which the 2-4-8 has no LOS.

I used to dislike skulking too...until I realized that ASL is a game of maneuver, not fire.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
I guess one other thing (a major change) is just getting rid of the Advance Phase altogether and permit movement into an enemy-occupied hex during the Movement Phase.
There's an important interaction where broken units rout before they can be engaged in close combat; that would be more difficult to handle without an Advance Phase.
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
isn't this "skulking"? And I believe I've heard it said that nothing can be done about it since it's so integral to the balance of many scenarios.

Skulking is "built" into scenarios? No wonder so many suck.

 
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Stephen Stewart
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Your "fire" as they leave the hex will only "Reverse" the Skulking manuever...

i.e. Instead of benefiting the defender...it will benefit the attacker...

Attacker will not move in your LOS in the MPh, but in the APh.
during your "retreat" he gets the free shot then at FULL FP instead of the 1/2 fp in the AdFirePh.

The rule that needs to be incorporated is a "Hunker Down" rule.

Whereas, the Defender could earn a +1/2/3 or whatever on Defense as he's hiding behind the walls and NOT poking his head out.

In doing so will subject that unit to only use AREA fire in future phases in exchange for the added defense. Walking out the back door, then going back in is just stupid game mechanic... 8,000 pages of rules and THAT'S a viable option? Really can't think of anything else to express units taking FULL cover vs poking their heads out...sort of a "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" symbology.

Anyway, it's wasting brain power and internet space.... The obvious errors in the RB won't get fixed, you think this "key" mechanism will not be changed.
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John Brock
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I agree that a "Hunker Down" rule would be a nice addition to FASL (that's "Fantasy ASL", since we all know real ASL is never going to change, outside of house rules).

However, without a rule like the one Michael is proposing, or the other variations already mentioned, having "Hunker Down" would not get rid of skulking. In the right circumstances skulking is a 100% foolproof way of avoiding DF, so as long as Hunkering gives the slightest chance of being harmed, it would still be a less-optimal choice in many cases.

Personally I've often thought that being able to fire at a unit leaving its starting hex is the infantry equivalent of a vehicle spending a Start MP. Just as it takes a short bit of time for the vehicle to get in gear and start moving, it takes the infantry a few seconds to receive orders, stand up, and leave their vulnerable position. But charging a full MF for this would be too much; and then you'd need to have some version of "Infantry Motion"; and undoubtedly all sorts of other problems.
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Jarkko Kotiranta
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I like this tweak. I'm not sure if I'll apply it in future games, but it makes sense. If you're supposed to be defending, holding positions, it makes sense to penalize turning your back on an advancing opponent and getting shot in the process. Your retreat is interdicted by any unit in a position to fire. IIRC, this is the way it works in Steel Panthers (pc game). They still get the benefit of cover while retreating.
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Brent Pollock
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ASLChampion wrote:
The rule that needs to be incorporated is a "Hunker Down" rule.

Working on it, along with the rest of my revamp. It needs to be done in conjunction with making some terrain small-arms proof and making actual flanking fire rules.

Am I the only one who views the ASL system as a big Lego kit waiting to be morphed into whatever you want?

 
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WBRP wrote:
ASLChampion wrote:
The rule that needs to be incorporated is a "Hunker Down" rule.

Working on it, along with the rest of my revamp. It needs to be done in conjunction with making some terrain small-arms proof and making actual flanking fire rules.

Am I the only one who views the ASL system as a big Lego kit waiting to be morphed into whatever you want?


I see every game this way.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the changes I've tried to develop is a 'simultaneous' system. Skulking as it exists now, pretty much disappears this way. I've only tested it with a couple of friends locally so there are problems yet to be discovered, I'm sure. I'm stalled at the moment trying to decide how to 'fix' some movement issues.
Of course the simultaneous system is appealing in itself, but ultimately its designed to lead to a more manageable blind system. The Holy Grail!

One of the problems, though, with house rules like this is that if you play more widely than with your local buddies (ie. PBEM) you risk confusing yourself about how to play correctly, or not developing strategies to deal with the rules as written.
Doesn't stop me though.

I would think hunkering down would come with strings attached. Wouldn't more hiding contribute to less observing, less fire readiness, consequently making a response to a moving opponent hindered in some way (say +1 (or more?) to defensive fire)? I would be reluctant to make it as strong defensively as to create an area fire situation, but a further addition to the DR might be in order.

Then again, thinking about this kind of solution does make me think maybe this is even more complication that an already complicated game may not really need.

That said, (hypocrite that I am) I could see the addition of a (simple) flanking rule. What are people thinking about? An addition to any DR for fire that comes into the hex from a hex side that is what, at least 120 degrees from the first fire?


 
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Brent Pollock
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Right! The gauntlet has been thrown. Let's see which one of us can come out with their rule set first. Since I've been tinkering with my version (dibs on Platoon Commander, by the way) for at least 5 years, I have no plans on winning that race. My personal goal is to do it before I retire.
 
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ASLNoob wrote:
tanik wrote:
I would think hunkering down would come with strings attached. Wouldn't more hiding contribute to less observing, less fire readiness, consequently making a response to a moving opponent hindered in some way (say +1 (or more?) to defensive fire)? I would be reluctant to make it as strong defensively as to create an area fire situation, but a further addition to the DR might be in order.
In ASL only the player who's turn it is to move has the ability to "hunker down" or skulk. And it does come with strings attached. You have to surrender your ability to Prep Fire or to Advance Fire and in return you can back away and escape being fired at. Generally it's a fair enough trade off.

Forgive my ASL ignorance but doesn't that describe an assault move?

ASLNoob wrote:

And ASL does have flanking rules of a sort with Encirclement. But most players don't play with encirclement in mind because it's fairly hard to achieve and somewhat complex.

Implementing the concept of facing for infantry units so that you could add in a penalty for being shot at from the side or rear would be a pretty big structural change.

Yea, I wasn't thinking about using facing. It seems to me that if you're being fired at from 2 different directions (ie 120-180 degrees apart) that that would constitute a significant 'distraction' regardless of your 'facing'. And was thinking of something as simple as a DR modifier. Though, maybe it should be a little more involved than that. Pinning, or surrender possibilities thrown in. Sorry, I don't know what encirclement rules look like to compare. Will have to look that one up.

WBRP wrote:
Right! The gauntlet has been thrown. Let's see which one of us can come out with their rule set first. Since I've been tinkering with my version (dibs on Platoon Commander, by the way) for at least 5 years, I have no plans on winning that race. My personal goal is to do it before I retire.

That pretty much describes my endeavour.
It sounds like you and I are in the same race.

I can only tackle SL, though, as I have yet to be properly trained for ASL. (Though this is also a goal.) I tried to learn with the solitaire game once, but it was quite a slog, and I had a hard time staying with it--ie I didn't. shake

 
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