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Subject: ZOC's in PB/PL !? Yep... well sort of.... rss

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Dennis Kochan
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Hello

Ever notice that in PB/PL its recon by exposure!? Because of the scale of the game and the units, certain 'key' abilities / procedures had been overlooked.

Some of these are... patrols, forward observers, outposts, flank guards, rear guards, check-points and so on. But if you don't have sub-units relative to the units in the game, how can you have these?

Well one way is to treat the six hexes around a unit as having some version of the functions of sub-units being in effect relative to the position of a unit. The hexes around the unit, sometimes referred to in other games as the Zone-Of-Control.

The purpose of this ZOC in this case will be to provide 'spotting' from those hexes around a unit. It will be assumed that units have posted troops around itself as necessary to provide early warning and security. Also to keep the 'parent' unit basically 'hidden' as the terrain it occupies will allow. Terrain limits for tracing line-of-site' and are still in effect from the ZOC hexes of a unit.

So, from these ZOC hexes around a unit the unit may 'spot' from those hexes as per the 'spotting' rules in use in the game. This does not impart any abilities of the unit to call for indirect-fire support that it didn't or wouldn't have on its own. But, if it could call for such support then it could do it by 'spotting' from one of the hexes surrounding it.

It might be that only 'I' class infantry units have this ability. Or certain units as you see fit in order to impart abilities with say prepared positions or units with known organizations that provide such functions.

Once a unit that has been deemed to have this ability is in a position that it has a ZOC in common with an 'enemy' unit with this ability, both lose the 'spotting' capability in that hex. Any 'common' ZOC hexes 'shared' by enemy units lose this spotting ability from that / those hexes. Maybe we should use a term like Zones-Of-Observation (ZOO) or Observation Zones (OZ)! I know, another bad pun! My bad!

Give it a try.... let us know how it worked out for you. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback, as always.

Future subjects... sub-units...alternate close-assault methods... rolling terrain and ridge lines.... alternate movement costs for terrain types... limited functions of non I-class units on slope hexes... command control and communications.

Dennis
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Bill Eldard
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Burke
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It may be nationality-specific, and question larger assumption about spotting.

For example, did Soviet infantry companies have radio communications in order to direct and adjust indirect fire from 120mm mortar units several hexes to their rear. I don't know the answer, but it seems to me that a US infantry platoon likely had better communication capability than a Soviet company. Perhaps a stack of US platoons or Soviet companies -- representing a company or battalion, respectively -- should have improved spotting ability.

Of course, the spotting rule may be more inclusive than just comms and messengers. If a platoon -- or its scouts, flank guards, etc. -- come in contact with an enemy unit in the bush, wouldn't the mere firefight that ensues 'spot' the target?

But getting back to your suggestion, it seems reasonable.

Did it work when you tried it?

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Frank Clarke
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Eldard wrote:
For example, did Soviet infantry companies have radio communications in order to direct and adjust indirect fire from 120mm mortar units several hexes to their rear.



On the defensive they had telephone landlines. On the offensive they would try to keep up with reels of wire as far as possible. A lot of wargame rules seem to think everything was wireless. In the British Army the first thing we did on entering a location was lay Don-10 for landlines. That was the '80s. Today a lot of frontline digital stuff goes through wires.
Bigger that 120mm, they didn't have the authority. American junior officers called in artillery strikes, Russian doctrine concentrated artillery. If you needed artillery support you were a loser who didn't deserve it, only success was given support.
So lack of radios for spotting artillery isn't as big a deal to a Soviet Company commander as some people think.

edit:
Intelligence Bulletin, May 1946.
http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ontheway/

"The Red Army mortar company moving into action is preceded by a reconnaissance section from the company, which selects the firing positions and observation posts. Whenever possible, the company OP is established near or in the same locality as the rifle battalion OP, since the mortar captain and the battalion commander maintain the closest liaison. Meanwhile, each mortar platoon establishes its own OP in front of its position, but not too far to prohibit the passing of verbal orders or signals from the OP's to the platoons. Telephone communication is established from each of the platoon OP's to the rifle battalion OP, and from there to the mortar company headquarters hack at the firing position. There is also wire communication between the battalion OP and the battalion command post."

Peeking around the corner of a hex sounds plausible. Although the "If you can trace LOS from any corner of your hex to any corner of the target hex, then you have LOS" does much the same thing.
 
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Dennis Kochan
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Hello...

Once again, great feedback guys. Glad to see the subjects generate interest and useful information. As you can see, there is much to consider and with the Russians many variations or equipment, organization and methods. Not surprising I guess, we are talking about what must have been the largest army in the world at the time.

Fortunately, since the declassification of much material, information is becoming more specific and readily available. For example....

From 'Combat Regulations for the Infantry of the Red Army, Part 1.'

Part 13: 'The Rifle Company'

1. Overall

456. The rifle company is the tactical unit which is in the position to independently resolve a range of infantry combat tasks. The company will usually be supported by the battalion and regimental commanders available heavy weapons. The company can have heavy machineguns, mortars, antitank rifles, 45mm and 76.2mm guns and possibly even batteries from the divisional artillery attached to it.

473. During the attack the company commander maintains uninterrupted observation of the enemy and reports to the battalion commander all changes in their position and all new targets that are impeding his advance. The company commander reports the latter information through the attached artillery observer to the artillery supporting the company also.

These 'regulations', if they can be referred to that way, seem to give considerable flexibility to the support given any one company, based on, I assume the tactical situation at the time. So, maybe rules that reflect little or no allowance for variation may not be the optimal solution to accounting for real-world realities.

What's interesting is that these orders where issued 'By Order of the People's Commissar for Defense' signed no less, than by Stalin himself.

Another source yields this information...

Handbook on U.S.S.R. Military Forces TM-30-340. Specifically, Section V, Page 33...

"The artillery fire control net is distinguished from the artillery command net in that, in addition to the command posts of each organic and attached artillery unit, it includes the command post of each supported unit, artillery forward and paired observation posts and firing positions. Provisional mortar battalions (formed by grouping regimental mortar batteries) are included in the artillery fire control net. Wire communications are duplicated by radio, liaison officers and messengers."

So, anyway, keep the information flowing. The more we have the better the rules variants. At times, it almost seems because of the very large numbers of organizations and situations, that rules may almost need to be 'scenario specific', at times. But, there probably can be a set of rule variants that cover situations not found in the original games.

I try to think of ways to do this without increasing the need for new counters or maps. So, that persons who own the originals can, as much as possible, use these rules with 'what they got'.

As always, looking forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Dennis

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