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Subject: Op Fire Problems as a Defender rss

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Daniel Hurst
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My background is in wargames and I've recently gotten into ASL. A friend bought this game, thought I would enjoy it, and we played it for the first time. I like the TOI system and I love that the components can be used to play tons of different customizable scenarios. It's a good TOY (TOI!) rather than just a game. In general, I was impressed.

After about three turns as the defender, I noticed that my philosophical theory of defensive Op Fire doesn't seem to agree with the TOI system. I'm wondering either if 1) I've missed a rule, 2) I'm the only one who thinks it may be a problem, or 3) the game needs a slight fix.

As I understand it, units can first be put into Op Fire mode during the Status Phase. Units can also be put into Op Fire mode during the Action Phase as that unit's turn. Once a unit is in Op Fire mode, its turn is over, unless the unit is triggered by enemy movement in range and LOS (or a magic card is used in some way). At the end of the Action Phase, if no enemy unit triggers the Op Fire unit, the unit does nothing for the turn.

My problem is that a defender is often forced to put defending units into Op Fire mode to prevent an attacker from moving towards his position. But once those units are in Op Fire mode, any attacking unit which is already in range and LOS can make free concentrated fire attacks at the defending unit while that defending unit CANNOT RETURN FIRE. In fact, the defending unit wouldn't get any shot during the round. If, however, the defending unit wants to fire at the attacking unit, he will be unable to prevent the attacking unit from moving forward with impunity because he can't Op Fire.

Several options for resolution:

1) Tell me that TOI is a different system and that I should just get used to it. If so, what a "correct" strategy for using Op Fire on the defense? Go ahead, rock my world.

2) Allow Op Fire against enemy units when those enemy units make a fire attack and not just when they move.

3) As an action, a player can make a "concentrated fire" action with a unit that is already in Op Fire mode. This would completely fatigue the unit.

4) ASL (generally speaking) allows defending units that did not fire during the "Action Turn" to fire at the end of movement. TOI could allow non-fatigued units which remain in Op Fire mode at the end of the Action Phase to each make one fire attack. Perhaps at half firepower?

Thanks for the advice and help!

 
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Mike zebrowski
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The primary purpose of Op-Fire is to avoid the problem of one side hiding until the other side has completely activated. It was not designed to be the ultimate defensive action.

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My problem is that a defender is often forced to put defending units into Op Fire mode to prevent an attacker from moving towards his position.


No, that is what Initative is for. If you have enemy units in LOS and range and you want to prevent them from advancing, then win the Iniative bid and attack them first.

You also don't have to put all of your units on Op-Fire. You can place some on Op-Fire (such as MGs) to guard against an advance and use the others normally to attack stationary targets.
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I find Op Fire a pretty powerful option for the defender. Especially for defending machineguns.

In Scenario Two, the defender I played set up a defense strong enough to resist a lot of my concentrated attacks. As the atttacker, I had no real reason to put anyone on Opfire. (In retrospect, I should have used some surpression, but it was my first game.)

I like that MGs can fire one time at anything that moves in their range and LOS, so long as they themselves aren't surpressed. If they pull in another MG and get some mortars in beforehand, a board front can be sewn up pretty tight.

And it's a clean system. There's not a lot of rules to wade through and the tactic is a strong, realistic one: Pin with mortars. Anything else that moves, hit 'em with MGs. Pick off anything pinned in the open with vehicles or squads.

If they're doing it right, the defender ain't gonna be doing much moving to plug a hole, so Op Fire isn't a strong option for the attacker.

Oh. And careful composition and placement of your squads for attack or defense is very important. Squad composition adds a lot of leverage to a plan...
 
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Renaud Verlaque
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In my own game system, firing by the active player does trigger opportunity fire..., but I guess Mike's suggestion is the way to go in ToI.
 
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Daniel Hurst
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Quote:
The primary purpose of Op-Fire is to avoid the problem of one side hiding until the other side has completely activated. It was not designed to be the ultimate defensive action.


I spent a few minutes parsing this out, but I just don't think I understand. "One side hiding until the other side has completely activated"? Theoretically, Op Fire's purpose is to stop the opponent from advancing unmolested, correct? It's also to allow the defender to attempt to take its shots against an attacker in the most advantageous way (i.e., with as little cover as possible).

I don't think of it as the "ultimate" defensive action, but it is a very important one, correct? If I'm stuck in the woods with a rifle, I'm going to blast things that move into range and I'm also going to blast any enemy already in range who tries to shoot. The rules, as written, appear to fail to capture this.

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No, that is what Initative is for. If you have enemy units in LOS and range and you want to prevent them from advancing, then win the Iniative bid and attack them first.


I understand that, of course, but sometimes you can't help losing Initiative. Which then forces a defender to make an evil little choice of 1) putting a unit into Op Fire to prevent movement and then getting blasted from a stationary enemy with no hope of retribution or 2) not putting him into Op Fire and freeing the attacker to dash to a new position at will.

It's true that you could use several different units - some in Op Fire mode and some not - to try and both have your cake and eat it too, but that seems terribly unrealistic. Also, you don't always have multiple units available in any particular strategic area of a battle.

Unless someone can say why not to, I think I may switch to a house rule of allowing Op Fire either when an opposing unit moves in LOS and range OR when that opposing unit is fired. I'd assume the player with Initiative would resolve their attack first in that situation. Or they could be simultaneous, like in Assault.

Thanks for helping me work this out!
 
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Mike zebrowski
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hurstdm wrote:
Quote:
The primary purpose of Op-Fire is to avoid the problem of one side hiding until the other side has completely activated. It was not designed to be the ultimate defensive action.


I spent a few minutes parsing this out, but I just don't think I understand. "One side hiding until the other side has completely activated"?


Let's say that I am the attacker and the game didn't include Op-Fire.

I would spend the first few turns buying re-enforcements with trucks.

Just before the big push, I would move all of my units to just behind a series of trees so that neither side has LOS to the other. At the start of the next turn, I would spend all of my early activations to move trucks around. The goal wouldn't be to do anything but force the defender to spend his activations.

As I would have more units than the defender, I could simply wait until all of his units were activated. I could then break cover without having to worry about being fired upon.

This would be very bad for the game as the defender would have no choice but to fatigue units without them even having a chance to do anything.

Quote:
Theoretically, Op Fire's purpose is to stop the opponent from advancing unmolested, correct?


No. Op-Fire's primary purpose is to avoid the situation above.

Quote:
It's also to allow the defender to attempt to take its shots against an attacker in the most advantageous way (i.e., with as little cover as possible).


That is just a side-effect.

Quote:
I don't think of it as the "ultimate" defensive action, but it is a very important one, correct? If I'm stuck in the woods with a rifle, I'm going to blast things that move into range and I'm also going to blast any enemy already in range who tries to shoot. The rules, as written, appear to fail to capture this.


No, it doesn't. Your unit can still attack. You just have to wait for your turn.

Quote:
Quote:
No, that is what Initative is for. If you have enemy units in LOS and range and you want to prevent them from advancing, then win the Iniative bid and attack them first.


I understand that, of course, but sometimes you can't help losing Initiative.
Which then forces a defender to make an evil little choice of 1) putting a unit into Op Fire to prevent movement and then getting blasted from a stationary enemy with no hope of retribution or 2) not putting him into Op Fire and freeing the attacker to dash to a new position at will.


If you lost Initative, then the other guy should have an advantage. Otherwise, what use is winning Initative?

Mike Z
 
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Jackson Riker
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If you lost Initative, then the other guy should have an advantage. Otherwise, what use is winning Initative?

Mike Z[/q]

Initiative should give the winner a chance to activate first, but how does that relate to the issue of op fire versus fire (as well as movement) In other words, I agree that a unit in op fire mode which is not pinned should be allowed Op Fire against moving units (RAW) AND units firing against it.
This would leave the structure of the game intact, while allowing units in OP Fire mode more flexibility. It seems more realistic in that if someone shoots at you, assuming you're not pinned, you will return fire.

thanks for your ideas Mike Z
 
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Mike zebrowski
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jacksonriker wrote:
In other words, I agree that a unit in op fire mode which is not pinned should be allowed Op Fire against moving units (RAW) AND units firing against it.


Why?

If an enemy unit is in LOS and range of the start of the Round and you place one of your units in Op-Fire, then you made the decision to shoot only if the enemy unit moves.
 
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Mike, you don't understand. Whether the enemy moves or not, I want to be able to shoot him to pieces before he can do anything. That's realistic. If, however, he wants to move or shoot at me first INSTEAD, well, that's just nuts!

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Jim Cote
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This kinda bugs me too, just a little. In some cases, you basically have to commit some of your units to do nothing for the round. I'd prefer if you could fire with a guy in Op Fire mode (at least at 1/2) at any time as an action (and fatigue him). However, this also leads to some gamey tactics.
 
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Thing is, you don't have to commit to Op Fire mode until you want to. An eligible unit can start in Op Fire mode, or they can commit to it later. That's some flexibility for a unit that has no current targets to shoot at. (Which goes back to Mike's original example with the trucks and blocking cover.)

And don't forget the "Halved + Halved = No Fire rule." If you go with an Op Fire rule that says a unit can switch from Op to Concentrated Fire whenever they want at the cost of halved firepower, then that brings up the problem of how to deliver a supported attack. Do other units on Op Fire get to chime in, too? If they're halved for Support and halved again for switching from Op to Concentrated, the rules say they can't shoot at all.
 
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It seems to me that you can't have this discussion without considering the initiative rules and the card decks available as they are fundamental to the operation of TOI as a game system.

The initiative rules in TOI are brutal, particularly where even amounts of command points are available to each side. If you spend a command point and put the oposition in a position where they can choose never to loose initiative it's going to hurt. It might be gamesy, but then TOI is a game and it's nobody's fault but your own!

If you've got the Morale 1 Deck "going to ground" and "desperation", amongst others in a small deck, have a material impact on how you might use Op Fire. Similarly the Command 1 deck impacts on Initiative.

The game doesn't look to have been designed so that "real world tactics", what ever they are, on their own will be enough to win, you'll have to play the game. Given the product I don't think this is an unreasonable design philosophy.

If I have a concern it's not with enemy units that start in range but with mortars and artillary. If your machine guns are visable and you either put them on Op Fire or the oposition has initiative, there's a good chance the enemy will suppress them with mortar fire before moving forward. You can try to go to ground, waiting for the final charge across open ground, but you might be swamped from close range?

On such decisions games live and die. Whether the balance is there on this mechanism only time will tell.
 
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David Rauscher
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As a general rule, I like the way Op Fire works. It's often quite a difficult decision for the defender, with a number of factors at play:

What resources does the other party (usually the attacker, but not always) have at play to suppress your unit before the unit gets a chance to shoot back?

If you go into op fire, they'll try to suppress you with means that don't expose their units to your op fire. Tanks at range and mortars are a real pain for units in Op Fire! If you don't go into op fire, those infantry hiding in the trees will rush across the open ground and shoot-you-up at point-blank range. Argh!

Will going into Op Fire limit your actions?

Especially if you have fewer units than your opponent, putting a number in Op Fire at the beginning of the round limits your actions and gives your opponent a huge advantage - you may activate all available units in one or two turns, while your opponent activates only out-of-the-way units in the beginning (leaving you restricted in causing any havoc), then after you've exhausted all of your option, does whatever he feels like, threatened now only by Op Fire, not any offensive strategy.

 
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BradyLS wrote:
Mike, you don't understand. Whether the enemy moves or not, I want to be able to shoot him to pieces before he can do anything. That's realistic. If, however, he wants to move or shoot at me first INSTEAD, well, that's just nuts!

laugh


Exactly.

It appears to me the OP fire rules easily take care of abstracting the flow of an advancing force against a defensive position.

The misunderstanding many people who play war games have is that they assume that because each unit is activated individually that the action is also taking place over a drawn out time period rather than what the game is simulating... an advance by a concentrated force at the same time.

So unless you add in some rules that allow the slowing of time, Matrix-style, giving an OP fire unit the privlege of shooting at everything that moves is unrealistic.

The MG teams are a different matter altogether and I agree with how the designers dealt with the brutal efficiency of MG emplacements in slowing an advance.
 
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Kevin Smith
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:
The primary purpose of Op-Fire is to avoid the problem of one side hiding until the other side has completely activated. It was not designed to be the ultimate defensive action.

Not having played the game yet I could be completely clueless, but I thought I'd add the following additional thought anyway.
The purpose of Op Fire is also to provide firing opportunities against targets that can't be seen at the start of a turn. Instead of units being forced to waste firing opportunities because of lack of targets, Op Fire gives those units a chance to fire during a turn as enemy units come into LoS.
The rule seems fine as is.
Kevin
 
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