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Subject: Kill the Leaders rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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Tactical squad wargames are divided into those with leaders (ASL, CC) and those without (CoH), myself I prefer to have leaders. Leaders in games usually have a big onus attached to them being able to assist in firing rallying etc. A platoon without a leader is often left stranded or incapable of putting down much fire which means that Leaders are the main target of enemy fire.
I was wondering how realistic is this? I am guessing in the heat of a battle that a soldier will fire at the greatest threat to him or the closest, easiest target. Would it be even possible to identify platoon or company commanders?
If a simple system could be found where leaders had an affect on their units but could not be identified on the battlefield would this be a better system or am I creating a problem which isn't really there?
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Sean McCormick
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No, leaders clearly create a problem, and it's easy to model their contribution abstractly through a combination of unit values and things like CAPs (Conflict of Heroes) or CPs (Band of Brothers). The game that models leaders best is Fields of Fire, and its notable for being the only one where they aren't running around like superheroes.
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Harald Torvatn
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The leaders in CoH is clearaly more superheroic that the leaders in most games with leader conters. They do the same thing, but in adition to what leadercounters do, they (the leaders in CoH)can teleport.
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Kent Reuber
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Every squad has a leader, as does every platoon, company, etc. I'm becoming less fond of games that force you to track and act with leaders. They add a cool element of role playing, but I'm finding that I prefer games without them. Sadly I have a huge collection of Panzer Grenadier games which feature leaders. Maybe things will change with the 4th edition rules.
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Michael Dorosh
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whatambush wrote:
Tactical squad wargames are divided into those with leaders (ASL, CC) and those without (CoH), myself I prefer to have leaders. Leaders in games usually have a big onus attached to them being able to assist in firing rallying etc. A platoon without a leader is often left stranded or incapable of putting down much fire which means that Leaders are the main target of enemy fire.
I was wondering how realistic is this? I am guessing in the heat of a battle that a soldier will fire at the greatest threat to him or the closest, easiest target. Would it be even possible to identify platoon or company commanders?
If a simple system could be found where leaders had an affect on their units but could not be identified on the battlefield would this be a better system or am I creating a problem which isn't really there?


British officers in Normandy quickly learned to stop wearing their neckties and to carry rifles like everyone else so that snipers would stop shooting them dead. It didn't matter much because officers still suffered among the highest casualty rates in infantry platoons. In order to lead, you have to be out front, where you can see what is going on, and alternately, be seen. But nothing says you have to be stupid about it. The Germans did the same thing; their officers and NCOs just as quickly learned to wear enlisted men's tunics, or camouflage smocks when they could get them, and to turn their shoulder straps upside down so they didn't give their rank away. Though I had it from one old vet that any NCO "worth his salt" would wear the shiny "treße" on his collar rather than the dull stuff.

Having said all that, I think the ASL leaders flitting from pillar to post to lead the death stars represent some old-school 19th Century thinking. I can see it as part of the morale modelling, but for fire direction, I don't see it at all. I suppose it is supposed to represent what the Winters character was doing in that hedgerow with the Blythe character in the Carentan episode of BoB. Made for good TV.

If leaders are going to be present, I'd rather see them in a command/control role, passing on orders. As noted above, every squad has its own leader, and in a good unit, every soldier is ready to take on the role of his boss, and his boss' boss, if the situation demands it. A good game would be able to portray the difference between a good unit, and a bad unit, once the bosses start getting whittled away, and those men have to start stepping up one and two places. The well trained force will keep going, the bad force will pack up in confusion. To me, that is what leadership is about, not shooting straight.
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Pelle Nilsson
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Usually leave them out. Rules for formations are good (keep all platoons of same company together etc) and too uncommon. Leaders are too common.

In Infantry Attacks (and Panzer Grenadier?) I did not like that leaders can command any unit, and any number of units. Put a Captain next to some stacks and it can activate an assorted ad-hoc brigade-size formation that turn. Weird.
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Sean McCormick
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Harald wrote:
The leaders in CoH is clearaly more superheroic that the leaders in most games with leader conters. They do the same thing, but in adition to what leadercounters do, they (the leaders in CoH)can teleport.


They don't teleport at all--it simply represents different leaders taking initiative at different points during the battle. After all, every squad has inherent leadership.

Fighting Formations does the same thing.
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K G
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It depends a lot on the period, I would think. In WWI battles, among the British and American forces, at least, I think the NCOs were well equipped for command. That is, there is more "depth" in terms of initiative and the respect offered to the command structure. I've read that the Imperial forces relied a great deal on their officers and that the NCOs were not as effective working alone. I don't really know the truth of it.
 
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Art Bugorski
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Having said all that, I think the ASL leaders flitting from pillar to post to lead the death stars represent some old-school 19th Century thinking. I can see it as part of the morale modelling, but for fire direction, I don't see it at all. I suppose it is supposed to represent what the Winters character was doing in that hedgerow with the Blythe character in the Carentan episode of BoB. Made for good TV.


Tactical war games are for simulating a realistic(ish) WW2 movie, not the thing itself.
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Harald Torvatn
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seanmac wrote:
Harald wrote:
The leaders in CoH is clearaly more superheroic that the leaders in most games with leader conters. They do the same thing, but in adition to what leadercounters do, they (the leaders in CoH)can teleport.


They don't teleport at all--it simply represents different leaders taking initiative at different points during the battle. After all, every squad has inherent leadership.


Yes every squad has inherent leadership. Therfore, every squad in these games (all of them) can function without leaders.

Then there are the leaders, typically giving a favorable DRM of 2. In game with leader couters, this +2 happens where the leader counter is. In games without leader counters the player can typically move this +2 effect around as he pleases. The end result is just as if you had leader counters, but these could teleport.
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M St
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pelni wrote:

In Infantry Attacks (and Panzer Grenadier?) I did not like that leaders can command any unit, and any number of units. Put a Captain next to some stacks and it can activate an assorted ad-hoc brigade-size formation that turn. Weird.

Tank Leader has explicit formation assignments and handles the question of "what tank does the leader ride in" by rolling for "Shaken formation" outcomes when a company loses a platoon. Basically, the more platoons are taken out, the more likely the commander's tank was one of them.

Panzer Command solved it by requiring you to note down the number of the leader unit, but that was a bit more laborious.
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Science doesn't care what you believe in
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Seems that as you get to a grander scale, units are supposed to be fungible, e.g., infantry for infantry or mobile armor for mobile armor. Thus at the big picture level, individual leadership is not an issue, or to put it another way, great tactical moves are equally offset by bonehead tactical moves.

As the game drills down to the squad level, leaders become more important. I've been impressed with how D-Day at Omaha Beach handles leaders (heroes and generals) for the Americans. At that scale individual actions can make a difference -- but not every unit gets a leader, and leaders may or may not show up in the game depending on card draw.

BTW, I'll note that I'm new to wargaming, and have never fired a weapon at anyone, so take my abstract observations with a grain of salt. Or maybe a grain of black powder.
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Moshe Callen
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I've a few games with leaders and hadn't thought of it in those terms the OP uses but agree. I suppose what makes the most sense to me when leaders are in a game, as in a number of both abstract and AT games I have, leaders are primarily just moving targets, even in situations where their leadership offers advantages.
 
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Enrico Viglino
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I usually play a larger scale of tactical game, but leaders seem
indispensable to me in these. Most battles are significantly affected
by the quality of the leaders present, so to have any real chance of
showing the historical likelihood of action, you need both leaders
and a strong command system; otherwise, people can move all their
units when they wish.

Representational games (like squad leader) with no historical situation
to simulate is a harder case - but it strikes me that IF you can't
achieve solid history without leadership and command rules in actual
battles, these made-up engagements won't be terribly realistic without
including them and other limitations to command.
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Sean McCormick
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Harald wrote:
seanmac wrote:
Harald wrote:
The leaders in CoH is clearaly more superheroic that the leaders in most games with leader conters. They do the same thing, but in adition to what leadercounters do, they (the leaders in CoH)can teleport.


They don't teleport at all--it simply represents different leaders taking initiative at different points during the battle. After all, every squad has inherent leadership.


Yes every squad has inherent leadership. Therfore, every squad in these games (all of them) can function without leaders.

Then there are the leaders, typically giving a favorable DRM of 2. In game with leader couters, this +2 happens where the leader counter is. In games without leader counters the player can typically move this +2 effect around as he pleases. The end result is just as if you had leader counters, but these could teleport.


Or rather that there isn't a significant difference between one leader and another on combat results to justify making one leader provide a +2 DRM and another leader a 0 DRM. Instead, those games are representing something else. In Fighting Formations, for example, the command markers are clearly representing overall focus on a particular sector of a battlefield and the way that command and control degrades over time. It's arguably the best mechanism in the game.

Again, the game that captures command in the most plausible way (to me, at any rate) is Fields of Fire, where officers are needed to transmit orders, and their ability to do so is badly compromised as soon as they come under fire. It is essentially the polar opposite of the leader-as-Death Star approach taken by the squad games with leaders.
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Mike Hoyt

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Jim Krohn has a nice discussion about why he ultimately dropped leaders from Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles (he had them originally).
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Art Bugorski
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blockhead wrote:
Jim Krohn has a nice discussion about why he ultimately dropped leaders from Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles (he had them originally).


donde?
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Confusion Under Fire
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Michael Dorosh wrote:


If leaders are going to be present, I'd rather see them in a command/control role, passing on orders. As noted above, every squad has its own leader, and in a good unit, every soldier is ready to take on the role of his boss, and his boss' boss, if the situation demands it. A good game would be able to portray the difference between a good unit, and a bad unit, once the bosses start getting whittled away, and those men have to start stepping up one and two places. The well trained force will keep going, the bad force will pack up in confusion. To me, that is what leadership is about, not shooting straight.


This is pretty much my target when creating leaders and units. Leaders should be leading their men ensuring each unit is doing what it has been ordered to do.
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Robert Fox
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Sean got it right. If you would like to see a realistic portrayal of leadership at he tactical level, take a look at Fields of Fire.

The captain sends orders down to the LTs (through radios, wires, or runners). The LTs then use them to maneuver their squads. The captain also has his XO and first sergeant that can assist the platoons or be dispatched for other duties (like casualty evacuation).

The leaders are very important, so you try to not expose them to fire, but engaged troops become hard to control unless the leaders expose themselves to get within earshot of the squads.

An entire platoon can be crippled by the loss of an officer until the position can be filled.

Also, once combat starts command points become scarce and platoon organization breaks down. So each leader ends up trying to accomplish 10 things when they only have the ability to manage 4.

Also, for the most part the enemy and your troops cannot target an individual unit ... they are either laying down fire at an entire area or (through being given an order) can concentrate on a smaller terrain feature (like firing at a particular building).
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Robert Fox
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
If leaders are going to be present, I'd rather see them in a command/control role, passing on orders. As noted above, every squad has its own leader, and in a good unit, every soldier is ready to take on the role of his boss, and his boss' boss, if the situation demands it. A good game would be able to portray the difference between a good unit, and a bad unit, once the bosses start getting whittled away, and those men have to start stepping up one and two places. The well trained force will keep going, the bad force will pack up in confusion. To me, that is what leadership is about, not shooting straight.


I hate to be a broken record, but Fields of Fire does model this. The officers can become a firing unit, but doing so removes them from their leadership role, cutting the total actions available to the platoon by over half. They cannot lead and engage the enemy, it's either or.

The platoon and company commanders can be reconstituted in battle when killed, but it takes orders and time the company doesn't have. Also, each platoon gets a smaller variable number of free commands a turn that can be used without needing to be ordered by a leader (representing local leadership and individual initiative).

As the squads and leaders gain experience, they will have more command points to spend, and will be more successful in the actions they take. Nothing hurts more than getting an experienced LT killed in action, having to replace him with a green LT. Green LTs have a tendency to freeze in combat (draw no personal command points in a turn), forcing the captain to expend more effort to get that LT moving.
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Pablo Klinkisch
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+1 to Fields of Fire: the more I play other squad-level games, the more I appreciate the genious of FoF.
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M St wrote:
pelni wrote:

In Infantry Attacks (and Panzer Grenadier?) I did not like that leaders can command any unit, and any number of units. Put a Captain next to some stacks and it can activate an assorted ad-hoc brigade-size formation that turn. Weird.

Tank Leader has explicit formation assignments and handles the question of "what tank does the leader ride in" by rolling for "Shaken formation" outcomes when a company loses a platoon. Basically, the more platoons are taken out, the more likely the commander's tank was one of them.


Also like how that systems determines if your are in command - point at a center of mass for each platoon - that which is outside the radius of that point are OOC.

The enemy does not know where the leader is - no HQ hunting.
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