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Subject: Best WW2 or later game for trying out squad/platoon level tactics? rss

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Keith Scholes
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I've recently started reading through the Tactics 101 posts on Armchair General http://www.armchairgeneral.com/category/tactics101 and it occurred to me that it would be interesting to try some of the ideas in a gaming format. Can anyone suggest what might be the best game or game system for attempting this? Essentially I'm looking for a game with flexible scenarios that I can set up myself. Additionally I would like a game less concerned with 'playing the rules' to defeat an opponent (I will in any case probably be playing solo) but more with getting a good simulation of how the tactics play out in achieving a particular objective.

At the moment I am thinking of trying the Combat Commander series due to its wide variety of scenarios but I am open to other suggestions.
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Andrew N
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I'd say either Sniper! (second edition) or Firepower sounds like they'd fit the bill.
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James Brown
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Just kidding.



Try Up Front if you can find a copy.
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Jason Koskey
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My vote/opinion is for COMBAT COMMANDER....

It has the best RSG in my opinion and with all the readily available and cheap expansions this game has staying power. It also has a huge following here and many other places on the web including Vassel, etc.
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Mike Hoyt

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ASLNoob wrote:


I'd recommend Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. Low rules overhead and the suppression model of tactical combat feels right.


Perfect choice, except you want the more recent (and still in print) second game in the series Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer
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Carl Fung
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keitharchaeologist wrote:
I've recently started reading through the Tactics 101 posts on Armchair General http://www.armchairgeneral.com/category/tactics101 and it occurred to me that it would be interesting to try some of the ideas in a gaming format. Can anyone suggest what might be the best game or game system for attempting this? Essentially I'm looking for a game with flexible scenarios that I can set up myself. Additionally I would like a game less concerned with 'playing the rules' to defeat an opponent (I will in any case probably be playing solo) but more with getting a good simulation of how the tactics play out in achieving a particular objective.

At the moment I am thinking of trying the Combat Commander series due to its wide variety of scenarios but I am open to other suggestions.


I haven't played it but this may fit the bill: Ranger
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Confusion Under Fire
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ASLNoob wrote:
For simulating, even in a very general sense, how infantry tactics play out, I wouldn't suggest Combat Commander. The randomness of the card play means that nothing will ever necessarily play out in an expected or even logical fashion. This makes for a great "game" against another player, but might not give you what you are looking for when it comes to squad tactics.



I love Combat Commander but I have to agree with the above opinion. If you want to play out tactics then Combat Commander might not allow you to do so. I haven't played Fields of Fire but I believe it may be closer to what your after.
I agree a simple set of rules would suffice where the collapse of tactics would be due to unseen casualties, unexpected delays etc so a decent command system would be important.

Not wishing to derail this thread, the original question does bring up another query, during wartime were tactics followed in the heat of battle?
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Sam Carroll
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Another vote for Band of Brothers (either game in the series).
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Michael Dorosh
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whatambush wrote:
Not wishing to derail this thread, the original question does bring up another query, during wartime were tactics followed in the heat of battle?


That's not the question, I think. "Tactics" can refer to anything. "Manuals" are another thing, as is "doctrine". "Tactics" can be described as anything that works. Doctrine is a way of codifying those things so what works for one person can be taught and done over and over again by others.

Timothy Harrison-Place talks in his book about Training in the British Army about how the British never really got around to codifying section and platoon tactics. They struggled with their infantry manual well into the North Africa and Italy campaigns, and even after Normandy, weren't really sure that anyone was doing what "the book" said anyway. The "lane method" of platoon attacks, for example, were apparently so obscure that there is only one recorded instance that Harrison-Place could find of anyone trying it under fire.

There is another good book on Canadian Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War that discusses the gulf between training and what people actually did in the field. Robert Engen, the author, uses the post-battle questionnaires of junior officers to glean info on the topic and apparently gets much useful info from them. "Tactics" tended to evolve from conditions on the battlefield. The British and Canadians were big on "Battle Drill" as a method of training, though, and there is no real consensus on how well it worked or whether it was a help, or a hindrance. Whether or not this is what you mean by 'tactics' is also another question.
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Zigi Hogan
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+1 for Sniper! (second edition)! Whereas ASL counters are squads, and Combat Comanders are squads, teams or individuals; all counters in Sniper! are an individual soldier. I think this will help with the individual tactics of a soldier on the battlefield.

I found mine very cheaply and unpunched last fall so there are still copies available inexpensively.

Good Luck on your search!
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James
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Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles makes claims to accuracy but the scenarios are quite limited and the use of decoys makes it pants for solo play.

I reckon you should buy the Phil Sabin book and then make your own system.
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Eoin Corrigan
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ASL will certainly convey a sense of the tactical strengths and weaknesses of the different belligerents. For instance, Barbarossa scenarios will often provide the German and Soviet orders of battle with diametrically opposed lower echelon leadership, which will illustrate the aggressive, initiative based tactical approach taken by junior German officers and the inability of the Soviets to counter on equal terms.

ASL will also demonstrate the tactical use of a lot of WWII weapons systems, from the swarm tactics necessary to deal with the KV-1s and T-34s of 1941, to the stand-off deployment of AT guns in the desert war.

Another feature will be that ASL tends to encourage tactical deploymen of troops consistent with how the war was often fought. Infantry AT teams will hide near choke points, MGs will dominate open terrain from elevated positions or will interdict streets from fortified nests, shock assault troops will disperse, close with the enemy and destroy them at close range etc.

The game's attack resolution, morale and routing rules will also demonstrate the potency of the classic L-shaped ambush, for instance.

It's a big game, fairly complicated, but it may be of interest as no other extant system can portray the diversity of combatants, terrain, vehicles and other weapons systems, weather etc. like ASL. It has the flexibility the OP is looking for.

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Rex Stites
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whatambush wrote:
ASLNoob wrote:
For simulating, even in a very general sense, how infantry tactics play out, I wouldn't suggest Combat Commander. The randomness of the card play means that nothing will ever necessarily play out in an expected or even logical fashion. This makes for a great "game" against another player, but might not give you what you are looking for when it comes to squad tactics.



I love Combat Commander but I have to agree with the above opinion. If you want to play out tactics then Combat Commander might not allow you to do so. I haven't played Fields of Fire but I believe it may be closer to what your after.
I agree a simple set of rules would suffice where the collapse of tactics would be due to unseen casualties, unexpected delays etc so a decent command system would be important.

Not wishing to derail this thread, the original question does bring up another query, during wartime were tactics followed in the heat of battle?


Combat Commander is more game than simulation for the most part. To the extent that it may simulate certain aspects, it doesn't strike me that it would be particularly good for the OP's use.
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Robert Stuart
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ASLNoob wrote:
For simulating, even in a very general sense, how infantry tactics play out, I wouldn't suggest Combat Commander. The randomness of the card play means that nothing will ever necessarily play out in an expected or even logical fashion. This makes for a great "game" against another player, but might not give you what you are looking for when it comes to squad tactics.

I'd recommend Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. Low rules overhead and the suppression model of tactical combat feels right.

If you want to add in more of a Command & Control element then you might try a TCS game, the latest one is Canadian Crucible: Brigade Fortress at Norrey. Moves up to the platoon level and the system works with Op Sheets which are orders given to your formations which realistically limit their freedom to act independently of command.

Comparing Tactical level game on BGG tends to rev up some pretty fiesty arguments. However, both of these game systems are well respected and not controversial. If you are willing to leave WWII there are others available that I don't know well enough to comment on.


Took the words out of my mouth. For platoon level I would recommend two others as well.

(1) Death Ride: Hafid Ridge. Truly a great tactical situation involving armor, anti-tank and artillery. If you like it a lot and want to graduate to a 'monster', which you could set up & play on VASSAL if you don't have the physical space, you could then progress to Death Ride Kursk or Death Ride Salerno.

(2) Panzer Grenadier: Elsenborn Ridge. I've enjoyed this solo. I would not recommend it ftf; for some reason, I find Panzer Grenadier boring and frustrating when played with an opponent. But solo, this game (Elsenborn Ridge in particular) gives great scope for tactical exploration.
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keitharchaeologist wrote:
I've recently started reading through the Tactics 101 posts on Armchair General http://www.armchairgeneral.com/category/tactics101 and it occurred to me that it would be interesting to try some of the ideas in a gaming format.


For a WW2 game that lets you try out squad-level tactics, I suggest Ambush!. You can take your squad through various scenarios, and random events happen as you move through the map, such as a sniper takes out your CO from the top of a ridge. IMO it's a great way to experiment with the basics, then move on to deep-dive stuff in one of the other comprehensive systems (ASL, I'm looking at you).

The only "complaint" is that the Ambush scenarios don't hold up well to repeated run-throughs; once you know where the main German MG nest is, it won't move the next time you take your squad through the area. But if you're experimenting with different tactics, that may not be a down-check. You can mess around with different fire team sizes, different load-outs, and the like, each time you try to knock out that nest.

I don't think you can go wrong with just grabbing a system and playing.
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Nick Warcholak wrote:
moujamou wrote:
Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles makes claims to accuracy but the scenarios are quite limited and the use of decoys makes it pants for solo play.


There are some solitaire rules here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/848312/solitaire-suitabi...

Haven't tried them yet, but they look workable.


I think they work very well. If someone doesn't like playing 2-player games solo, then fair enough, but I think this game works well solo, even with the decoys.
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Jeb
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First, I want to say I was pleasantly surprised to see this did not degenerate into a squabble over each players favorite system.

Next, I'd say that squad and platoon level tactics are quite different.

ASL is great at understanding how to employ different weapon systems and generating scenarios; it even has it's own solitaire system. But it's a rules monster which sounds like something you want to avoid.

TCS by the gamers is much more about command and control regarding commanders creating orders and sending them to their troops so you get a good feel for controlling an operation. I'm more familiar with ASL but I suspect you may want TCS. BTW, TCS games are much less expensive.

Platoon level games seem to fall into two popular systems: Avalanche Press Panzer Grenadier games like Panzer Grenadier: Cassino '44, Gateway to Rome which is really well supported ... but they are LONG games. MMP's Grand Tactical system is also interesting but the system is not nearly as well developed as Panzer Grenadier as there are only 3-4 games in the series.

Edit for clarity
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William Barnett-Lewis
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Using US Army FM's since I'm familiar with them...

I'd suggest at the pure tactical level, a copy of FM 3-90(Tactics) & (A)SL. You can learn a lot about fire & movement in the classic "hammer and anvil" sense.

Next higher level, I'd suggest a copy of FM 3-90 & 3-21.20 (Infantry BN) for the TCS level. Any of that series will work.

Finally, I'd suggest FM 3-0 (Operations) and an OCS game. Beyond that you're talking strategy and are not in any way shape or form on the battlefield.
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jeb123 wrote:

Platoon level games seem to fall into two popular systems: Avalanche Press Panzer Grenadier games like Panzer Grenadier: Cassino '44, Gateway to Rome which is really well supported ... but they are LONG games. MMP's Grand Tactical system is also interesting but the system is not nearly as well developed as Panzer Grenadier as there are only 3-4 games in the series.

GTS is a company level system. I think you mean TCS as discussed above.
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Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1
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Keith Scholes
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Thanks all,

A lot of food for thought there, it looks as though the Band of Brothers system is getting the most love so I will probably start there. I had also already bought CC:E based on a lot of positive reviews elsewhere on BGG so I will give it a twirl but the consensus here seems to be that while a good wargame in itself it may not exactly fit my requirements.

I will keep a look out for some of the older OOP games suggested but they seem to be quite expensive in the UK, although a little cheaper and more available in the USA, unfortunately cross-Atlantic shipping costs tend to be a bit prohibitive.

I may look at the more heavy duty games in the panzer grenadier and ASL categories as a possible extension at a later date. I have always been somewhat attracted by ASL (with that chunky rule book) but have been a little daunted by the reported steep learning curve, not to mention the cost. It also doesn't help that the starter kit(s), which seem to be an easier way in, appear to be as rare as hen's teeth ATM.

Quote:
I reckon you should buy the Phil Sabin book and then make your own system.


An interesting suggestion, in fact I already own that book and enjoyed reading it a while ago. I hadn't thought of going in that direction before, so maybe something that I will look into. However, I will probably try to get a bit more experience with other systems before going down that route.

Anyway thanks for all your suggestions it has been interesting to read them all and I must say that it is nice to be involved with such a helpful community.
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Gordon Watson
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keitharchaeologist wrote:
I may look at the more heavy duty games in the panzer grenadier and ASL categories as a possible extension at a later date. I have always been somewhat attracted by ASL (with that chunky rule book) but have been a little daunted by the reported steep learning curve, not to mention the cost. It also doesn't help that the starter kit(s), which seem to be an easier way in, appear to be as rare as hen's teeth ATM.

It is kind of crazy that the product that is supposed to provide an easy access point to the ASL system is so often OOP and commanding secondhand prices that intimidate newcomers from being able to give it a try - it is though a very good intro to the system and a good game in it's own right. MMP should really try harder to find a way to keep it in print or make it available as a Pnp.

Of course there is no guarantee that ASL (even at the SK level) is what you are looking for - it does have shortcomings in terms of the 'realism' (whatever that means in terms of representing actual combat with cardboard pieces) of portraying tactical WWII combat, particularly around unit-integrity. But all of the tactical WWII systems do in one way or another. Confirm - Combat Commander is a lot of fun but probably the most 'gamey' of the systems I have tried.
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Fields of Fire

Designed by a Marine infantry officer. It explores infantry combat from the perspective of a company commander. It also shows the evolution of combat at the company level across WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
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Padraic Kirby
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Adding Chain of Command from Two Fat Lardies. A miniatures rule set where the player commands a supported infantry platoon in WWII. You do not need a lot of figures and it supports miniatures of any scale. Readily playable if you already have Flames of War figures.

Chain Of Command

Two Fat Lardies Blog:
http://toofatlardies.co.uk/blog/

Pat
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