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Subject: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Wargames rss

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John Brady
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A tip of the hat to Mike Myers for creating such a ditzy character...yes, I know it doesn't have anything to do with the topic...just having some fun.

One of the things that's bothered me about games like ATS, ASL, Lock 'n Load, etc, is that the way fire is modelled, and the lack of a pure suppressive fire option/result.

I'm not an expert on military tactics, but the generally accepted way to assault a fixed postition is to have a base of fire, which would be the bulk of your force, and a smaller assualt force to close on the suppressed enemy and kill him. Let's put this into real game terms...ASL Guards Counterattack scenario, for example.

The Russian player starts the game with 4 stacks of Gurads units...6FP per squad, times 12 squads. Each stack is 3 squads @ 6FP each, and represents a platoon (more or less). If you prep fire on of those stacks to try and kill/break a squad, it's entirely possible to miss completely...8 or higher on a +3 shot,etc target passes MC).

In real terms, though, 30-45 guys unloading everything they have into a building 100 or less yards away would create enough mayhem (flying chunks of concrete, flying glass, wood splinters, etc) to cause most rational human beings hug the ground and stay there until the firing abated a little, in theory giving the assualt element a chance to move under cover of the enemy's suppression.

Now, I know in *game* terms, it would be better to fire those squads individually, (more chances for snakeyes lol), but in real world terms, that wouldn't really be the case.

So...I've toyed with coming up with some sort of alternate suppression only table, that would reduce enemy effectiveness as a result a "prep fire" sort of attack, and not inflict casualties. In other words, the attacker could choose a suppression only attack, knowing with some degree of confidence that all of his fire will count for something as the % of a successful suppression result would be much higher than a normal attack.

I haven't really taken it any further than a concept, but it got me thinking that fire suppression, as opposed to casualty causing attacks, isn't really modelled in most of the games I've played. You get a manner of suppression *if*, and it's a big if, your prep fire actually works.

There's a great example somewhere on the net (sorry, don't have the link, but I've seen it), where they show the type of assualt I'm referring to. What's missing, of course, is what happens if you roll a 12 on your prep fire hehe...the entire complexity of the attack changes.

This certainly isn't limited to ASL...you could use it in other games as well.

As the Coffee Talk lady says, "talk amongst yourselves".

And, I'm not slagging/shilling for any one system over another...this is just something I've wondered about myslef.

 
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Andrew Brannan
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
IIRC, there's an interesting suppression fire model in Warhammer Epic, where firing on an opposing unit places "suppression markers" on the unit, which pins them in position (unable to move while "suppressed"). Placing enough suppression markers will actually break a unit, and I think there's a model for the assault "crossfire" that finishes off the opposing unit.

It's been a long time since I've looked at the rules, but the living rulebook should give you some good ideas of how to implement it.
 
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Sinister
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If we are speaking in general terms.

Suppresive Fire should incur modifiers or causualties to those that attempt to shoot.

Thefore if squad A and B are on one team against C. A should lay down suppressive fire to make harder for C squad to shoot and if they attempt to perhaps be injured by the fire. Meanwhile B squad flanks for killing moves.

Suppressive Fire should

1. Pin a unit
2. make it harder for them to shoot.
3. If they shoot, make them suffer causualties for it.

I'm not saying that everything here should be severe enough for a unit not to fire back or move a little, or take massive casualties for attempting to shoot but all three factors should be considered.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Suppressing fire should be simulated by winging dice at the opponent's head during his turn. If his roll goes off the table or he knocks over a counter stack, the unit is considered pinned.
 
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Geoff Bohrer
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
AF includes a suppressed result; but this is something that I wrestled with a LOT, since the whole essence of tactical doctrine is how to keep the other guy from killing your guys while they get close enough to kill him. Besides, of course, not getting killed by the other guy's artillery fire.

I'm not entirely sure how to do it; I'm ESPECIALLY not sure how to do it and keep the rules playable. My solution was to abstract it, reduce movement capability, and eliminate opportunity fire. At the SL/ASL level of detail, you may have something with a separate suppressive fire table.

EDIT: *Wings a die at Paul to get him to shut up while I'm talking*
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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gbohrer wrote:
AF includes a suppressed result; but this is something that I wrestled with a LOT, since the whole essence of tactical doctrine is how to keep the other guy from killing your guys while they get close enough to kill him. Besides, of course, not getting killed by the other guy's artillery fire.

I'm not entirely sure how to do it; I'm ESPECIALLY not sure how to do it and keep the rules playable. My solution was to abstract it, reduce movement capability, and eliminate opportunity fire. At the SL/ASL level of detail, you may have something with a separate suppressive fire table.

EDIT: *Wings a die at Paul to get him to shut up while I'm talking*


In Panzer Grenadier they sort of chose to abstract also, but tied it to morale checks... a disrupt result halves firepower and really slows movement. More elite units will have superior elan in the face of enemy fire.

I think you made the right call. Not abstracting stuff like this results in games like SPI's Air War.
 
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John Brady
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
What I have in mind wouldn't have to be intrusive...maybe an extra chart, with rusults that reduce the target unit's fp by 1/4, half, or all, depending on how many fp factors go into the suppression attempt.

Now, for winging dice at opponents, larger calibers are better.
 
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Geoff Bohrer
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
maddddog67 wrote:

Now, for winging dice at opponents, larger calibers are better.


It was a fuzzy d20....cool
 
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J. Green
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
abrannan wrote:
IIRC, there's an interesting suppression fire model in Warhammer Epic, where firing on an opposing unit places "suppression markers" on the unit, which pins them in position (unable to move while "suppressed"). Placing enough suppression markers will actually break a unit, and I think there's a model for the assault "crossfire" that finishes off the opposing unit.


This sounds a lot like the rules for Crossfire: WWII Miniatures rules. It has no set turns and no measurement, the whole thing runs off terrain and line of sight. You move until you fail to do something, and if you cross a line of fire the opponent gets a shot at you. One hit and you're pinned; two hits and you're suppressed, three hits and you're dead. Pinned is you can't move but you can fire; suppressed means you can't do anything. If you have a company commander you can try to rally to become unsuppressed or unpinned. It's a fast, fun, tactical game with the feel of real combat. I think it may be OOP but some stores still carry it; it's an inexpensive rulebook that you can use with any scale miniatures and any detail in level of terrain. We use thin dowel rods to check line of sight. Very cool game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/8066
 
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Up Front models this perfectly. Each card for a soldier has a regular side and a 'pinned' side. Pinned men contribute no firepower and cannot move until their SL rallies them.

Just as in modern small-unit tactics, flanking a pinned enemy with a small, experienced team is a classic tactic.

UpFront even simlulates other factors of being pinned too: it is slightly harder to kill a pinned man [hiding and never willingly peeking out from cover] than a regular soldier. Great game once you figure it out.
 
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The Real and Only
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Any system that wishes to model suppressive fire would also need to model ammunition supplies.

That is the downside to suppressive fire. Unless you are in a movie where everyone has unlimited ammo, you have to pick and choose when you are going to use this tactic.

You have to plan around how much ammunition your unit, and supporting units, have immediately available and how much would be available through re-supply.

This could get quite tedious for a boardgame to model and would be something that may be better represented through some kind of abstraction.

Like you are only allowed 1 or 2 suppressive fire attempts per unit per scenario, or it will be CC from here on out.

You might as well play a computer game if you want this kind of “true” simulation without abstraction...
 
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Bob Wilson
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bookgnome wrote:
abrannan wrote:
IIRC, there's an interesting suppression fire model in Warhammer Epic, where firing on an opposing unit places "suppression markers" on the unit, which pins them in position (unable to move while "suppressed"). Placing enough suppression markers will actually break a unit, and I think there's a model for the assault "crossfire" that finishes off the opposing unit.


This sounds a lot like the rules for Crossfire: WWII Miniatures rules. It has no set turns and no measurement, the whole thing runs off terrain and line of sight. You move until you fail to do something, and if you cross a line of fire the opponent gets a shot at you. One hit and you're pinned; two hits and you're suppressed, three hits and you're dead. Pinned is you can't move but you can fire; suppressed means you can't do anything. If you have a company commander you can try to rally to become unsuppressed or unpinned. It's a fast, fun, tactical game with the feel of real combat. I think it may be OOP but some stores still carry it; it's an inexpensive rulebook that you can use with any scale miniatures and any detail in level of terrain. We use thin dowel rods to check line of sight. Very cool game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/8066


I found the "move until you fail something" to be a brilliant rule. If there is a benefit/risk ratio to things, you make hard decisions about what to do, because failing means the other guy gets to go.
 
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Geoff Bohrer
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
LordBobbio wrote:

I found the "move until you fail something" to be a brilliant rule. If there is a benefit/risk ratio to things, you make hard decisions about what to do, because failing means the other guy gets to go.


And I dislike it for much the same reason. Like many CDG's, it leaves the other side sitting, watching you romp, and doing nothing. But it's designer and player preference, really.

Myself, I like IGOUGO, preferably broken down as finely as possible; impulses are best, but frequently lead to long rules.

But then, I don't even like RTS computer games; I much prefer turn-based.
 
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Bob Wilson
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Mozbink wrote:
Any system that wishes to model suppressive fire would also need to model ammunition supplies.

That is the downside to suppressive fire. Unless you are in a movie where everyone has unlimited ammo, you have to pick and choose when you are going to use this tactic.

You have to plan around how much ammunition your unit, and supporting units, have immediately available and how much would be available through re-supply.

This could get quite tedious for a boardgame to model and would be something that may be better represented through some kind of abstraction.

Like you are only allowed 1 or 2 suppressive fire attempts per unit per scenario, or it will be CC from here on out.

You might as well play a computer game if you want this kind of “true” simulation without abstraction...


I have to disagree... I think there are ways to write board/minis rules so that book-keeping is kept fast and painless, while still maintaining detail and choices for the player. The level of abstraction being mentioned in this thread is not outside the "playable" realm of face-to-face gaming...
 
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Bob Wilson
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gbohrer wrote:
LordBobbio wrote:

I found the "move until you fail something" to be a brilliant rule. If there is a benefit/risk ratio to things, you make hard decisions about what to do, because failing means the other guy gets to go.


And I dislike it for much the same reason. Like many CDG's, it leaves the other side sitting, watching you romp, and doing nothing. But it's designer and player preference, really.

Myself, I like IGOUGO, preferably broken down as finely as possible; impulses are best, but frequently lead to long rules.

But then, I don't even like RTS computer games; I much prefer turn-based.


I like some RTS computer games, but prefer to have the time to think that turn-based games offer... that's why I prefer face-to-face wargaming over computer-based.

I think the spirit of Crossfire's "go until you fail" could be blended into "I-go-you-go" in such as way as to elminate standing-around feeling powerless yet not get into a complicated, book-keeping heavy pattern of phases and sub-phases. Maybe I'm just naive and hopeful....

Can you imagine a number of action points, say 10 + 1d6, that each player gets each "go"... but if they fail an action in a significant way, then the other side gets a "go"... or at least, the other side gets a limited "go", interupting the other player's turn... simple, linear action-point tracks would make the book-keeping of this rather painless...
 
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Geoff Bohrer
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
No, I think it's probably do-able; in fact, I can see a couple ways just sitting here. But unfortunately, not of 'em really fit into my current project...*sigh*

I'll bear it in mind for future reference. You may just have spawned a whole new game...

Lord Bobbio wrote:
Can you imagine a number of action points, say 10 + 1d6, that each player gets each "go"... but if they fail an action in a significant way, then the other side gets a "go"... or at least, the other side gets a limited "go", interupting the other player's turn... simple, linear action-point tracks would make the book-keeping of this rather painless...


Actually, what I can see is certain actions that can be "interrupted" by the non-active player- opportunity fire vs. moving units and FDF vs. assaults spring to mind, but I bet I could find others- which, if successful, would immediately steal the initiative. Talk about making suppressive fire important! As well as not risking an uncovered move if you can avoid it..and bringing snipers up from just "kill leaders" status...
 
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
From my very limited ASL(SK) experience, it seems like supression is simulated by the DM counter. Once a unit is broken, just shooting at it every turn is usually enough to keep it from rallying.

So I guess the ASL method is to prep fire as a firegroup until something fails an MC, then have one unit supress the broken enemy while the rest firegroup on the next target.

Also, in the state of Noo Yawk, it is illegal for a dawg to drink cawfee.
 
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Phillip Heaton
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
Have you looked at the Sergeants! system? (Sergeants! on the Eastern Front, Sergeants! in the Sand, Sergeants Expansion and Sergeants! Scevario Book 1). When fired on, men are either out of the battle (dead, badly injured, ran away), pinned, or okay. Unlike unit based systems, every counter in the basic game is one man; the expansion adds vehicles. Miniature games use the pinned result as well, see Flames of War for example.
 
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John Brady
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Re: Coffee Talk: Modelling Suppressive Fire in Tactical Warg
Ted...you get the prize for being the first to use "verklempt" in a response...a signed copy of Barbra Streisand's greatest hits. Talk about VERKLEMPT..oy.

Phil, breaking squads in ASL does simulate, more or less, what I'm talking about WHEN you get some units that actually fail a morale check. I've even played around with that Guards scenario and fired 2 stacks at 36fp and STILL not broken the unit I was targeting...hence my daydream about a different attack option, where that much firepower would guarantee (except on a 12 maybe) some sort of dent in the target's ability to shoot back.

As for abstraction, EVERY thing in a board game is an abstraction to one degree or another; so if someone is worried about ammo supplies, I'd have no problem with allowing a liminted use of this option. Maybe you'd save your last one for that crucial assualt on the victory hex, or to get accross that one daunting patch of open ground covered by a machine gun.
I think it could easily be done w/o adding copious record keeping or layers of complexity to a game.

 
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Great discussion and lots of interesting ideas.

How about just having an adverse fire modifier for any units that have been on the receiving end of a 'significant' volume of fire in the previous turn/phase or whatever. You would have to define 'significant' based on the game system and then mark them with a suppression marker or something like that.

For example, in ASL, you could say that any fire attack that could generate at least a 'PTC' result with a roll of a natural '7' or lower will result in suppression of the target. The suppression effect would be less severe than an acutal PIN result, say something like a +1 die roll modifier in their next fire phase.
 
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