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Subject: Panzer grenadier in a sci fi setting ... Too far? rss

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Steve G
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After not an insignificant amount of time browsing pghq and amassing a reasonably impressive back catalogue of Avalanche Presses excellent Panzer Grenadier series I began to ponder the wider wargaming world.

To me Panzer Grenadier in its current guise (4th and to a ever so slightly lesser extent 3rd rules) is an excellent system.

And over the last 5 years I feel Avalanche have found their feet branching the system into 50s Korea, the 6 day war and even 'weird war one' most recently.

The games provide meaty, entertaining and varied scenarios.

A game of PG is not merely moving as many army men as possible in turn 1 so as to roll all dice ever and see what the fates have in store for the player and his army.

Instead a game of PG hinges more on the patient, prudent player. One who probes, account for time of day and calculates loss based on if the main assaults should take place across dawn, midday or dusk.

A player must account for reserves, fatigue and have a certain degree of caution. However at some point players will reveal their plans and soon swarms of armour will be breaking through, there will be officers feeding men into claustrophobic urban assaults, heavy artillery bombardments, convoys of motorised troops moving across the vast countryside. Aircraft of all types being radioed in, engineers brought in to clear minefields, move wrecks on major road networks and build pontoon bridges or just ferry men and machines across open water whilst under heavy fire. Meanwhile soldiers will be digging in during the night before the morning assault comes, laying smokescreens and firing off flares.

Over the last few weeks I have been looking for a meatier sci fi board wargame and after cycling through ADBs star fleet marines and the old AH starship troopers I wondered if PG is really the system I want to play... In space.

In reality it'll primarily be a cosmetic change more than anything else-

Geomorphic maps of alien worlds. Diamond Lakes, frozen seas, lava Rivers, craters the size of cities and ravines down to the planet core. Phosphorescent jungles and blue deserts.

All counters just need names and art changing. A few space mortars and space bazooka. Rename the tiger to the Vloraxian thunder Viper and put a pink blob with a tentacle on the counter and voila done.

Swap aeroplanes for space fighter bombers

Off board artillery can now represent orbital bombardment platforms or inter dimensional space dreadnoughts or something... Potential crossover with the war at sea series there.

I'm not personally after a rich theme, a few lines of backstory and 6 different alien races would do. I imagine though, that there are quite a few wargamers who wouldn't mind fighting larger scale tactical battles without having to decide between playing the SS or NKVD of an evening. Also it would be slightly more accessible to kids and those who don't find the greatest enjoyment in one of the worst periods of humanity's history.

To me PG provides the perfect mix of grand tactical fights and the ability to give the player a varied military 'toybox' as well as their excellent selection of asymmetrical scenario design that seems to have become much stronger over the years, especially their recent battlegame designs.

Perhaps one day us PGers will have a Dolandrian hunter company defending an ice city in a crystal valley against an armoured battalion of G'rilfen whilst holding out for their Xxillii allies hover reserve to cross the northern diamond seas to extract them and get them off the last molten continent of the planet Rill 7A under the cover of darkness. Well I can dream can't I? goo
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Xander Fulton
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Oh, I dunno, I think as even the existing PG line has shown - changing the setting opens up some new factors you need to deal with (I mean, early WW2 radio limitations compared to late WW2 makes a massive difference in the effectiveness of Soviet forces - even in the 'SAME' setting)

Pick something like 'Starship Troopers' (book) where marines are lobbing around small tactical nukes that can auto-destroy everything in a hex (and...er...a number of surrounding hexes) and suddenly armor gets a lot less interesting than infantry formations, and the command-and-control around those.

Or Star Wars delivering shielding technology that renders 'town hexes' (or, really, whatever hexes you have the generators set up in) completely immune to any form of artillery or direct fire attack, and close assault the only way to have any impact on morale (nevermind doing any damage). And now we have armored personal transports INSANELY important.

etc

The setting makes a lot of difference in the methods of combat! Of course, I do thing the PzG system could adapt to SciFi pretty easily either way - it's just important to pick a setting with some well-defined details you can build into the system. (When ADB was doing their Star Fleet Marines games, along with doing their maps for them, I was agitating heavily that they pick up some of the mechanics from PzG...the game has a lot of great ideas!)
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Steve G
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Admittedly there's potential room for development.

Regarding starship troopers (alas I have never read the book-it currently resides on my book shelf at the bottom a very large pile). Increased stacking limits for bugs, hidden deployment as employed by many of the Pacific theatre games adding in the cave terrain rules for 'hives' or whatever they're called. I was under the impression there wasn't much in the way of armour at the battle of Klendatho(sic). Also those tanker and plasma bug things would make fascinating artillery pieces.

The star wars universe admittedly has shields but they always got worn down in the end (some sort of time factor like that employed by engineers rules). Even treat shields similar to minefields with strength hidden until deployed on. AT AT units just acquire the soviet ride along rules, instead of treating them as transports, so transports retain their useful yet fragile status. The original franchise was set in a second world war design ethos anyway. Just imagine the full battle of Hoth. Miles of trenches, heavy gun emplacements and the giant walkers.

Even as far as 40k; admittedly space marines are always uber powerful but still killable, otherwise the franchise wouldn't have had quite the appeal. Not sure how to deal with power armour, although perhaps a much higher morale number could solve this, because enough firepower can kill anything in 40k. Imperial guard and Orks would be a great fit though. A full campaign on this planet or that with officer experience rules introduced in some of the PG books.

Admittedly it is highly doubtful that Avalanche could get any popular licenses with miniature based companies being the order of the day. People do like shiny moulded little trinkets don't they?! Although, rather hypocrytically, I did look into buying up some of the miniature sets from the new star trek rpg by modiphius and the bolting them into the star wars imperial assault game. ST should have it's own skirmish system. The shows were full of planetary assault and wars particularly the later 90s series. Dominion wars, Bajoran resistance scenarios, sorties onto Borg ships. That's a thread for another time though.

Anyway, AP 'could' create a whole new setting to move their games into. In the end all I would like to do is move blokes on a map with friends without them needing to know tzun tzu's art of war and just learn to play a game through play and not feel they're being taught history in their spare time. And if in that time we happen to be in possession of AT ST platoons, invisible predator platoons, land raider platoons and a swarm of 30 warrior bugs all fighting for control of a hill made out of dylithium crystals well... That's no bad thing!
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Peter Lloyd
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One can always dream. Problems will arise with conversion to reality. You might want to try Matt Ward's War of the Worlds scenario/variant. You might get some ideas from it.

In general I expect that things like the differential armor/AT system are are going to become problems. PG Modern is already showing such issues. Add in personal armor, probably better than a tank's, will only complicate matters. No add hand flamers, blasters, ect. Now you need to do weird things to the direct fire and bombardment tables. Creating a PGish sci-fi game shouldn't be too hard, meshing back with the existing system is another problem.
 
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Steve G
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While I must concede that when attempting to drape existing lore onto the PG rules there may be significant issues, but it is also true that the scale of the game allows for a higher level of abstraction.

This is one of the reasons why I still own 3rd edition epic and didn't delve into the Armageddon system.

Take for example a 40k variant-not specifically what I'm after but I'll roll with it for the moment. Some may wish to simulate flamers, heavy and regular bolters and compare the impact of lascannons and autocannons respectively (ala Armageddon), but to my 3rd edition mindset in reality all I want to know is which unit makes the bigger bang. I wouldn't want an itemised list of hardware before sending in the units... To me it would be

... left flank collapsing in urban terrain... Any tanks with infantry support around, should I pull units further into the town or just sacrifice a few more units to delay long enough to drive in some reserves for a second defensive line?

Therefore, I would simplify, so if say I had a steel legion artillery platoon I would expect it to have the same stats as a catachan imperial guard artillery unit.

In PG the player is zoomed out far enough that these nuances shouldn't override all decisions. I need units that can deal with armour. Whose currently got enough firepower to deal with it and who can get there in time. In epic 3rd edition players had a binary choice, regular space marine squad or heavy weapon space marine squad. No different than PGs INF vs MG. There's some terminators...treat them as a WPN team.

To me a rhino is no different to a sdkfz as its armoured and moves people. A leman Russ is similar to a T34 or sherman, mass produced and average. A land raider to a Churchill; heavy and slow. Personal armour could effect morale rolls more than combat rolls. If a unit is immortal then no one is gonna have fun playing a game. PG is eligant in its simplicity, it's tables and use of basic unit stats and morale interact remarkably well.

Admittedly I was never one for minutiae in gaming and I know some wargames are known for checking tables to see if the shell they just fired penetrated the 45 degree sloping armour struck at 63 degrees from magnetic North at 3.27 in the afternoon of September after the gunner just ate a bacon sandwich with no mustard... But I'm not one of them.

Just thought it would be interesting for the series if it just went a little rogue. Two maps and 50 counters similar to the old airborne pack but without the ridiculously crowded terrain map in that particular offering that I felt actually hindered more than helped the series.
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Russell InGA
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Actually what you are asking for is: Ogre

I don't know if it's directly designed from PanzerBlitz or not, but if not, it's its long lost relative.
 
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Steve G
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Ogres one of those games that's never really been on my radar. SJ games always seem a mixed bag. I love awful green things but hate anything munchkin. But I just had a quick look at ogre and yeah, if I can get it cheap enough in UK I'll give it a go.

Cheers
 
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Xander Fulton
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rules_heretic wrote:
Actually what you are asking for is: Ogre

I don't know if it's directly designed from PanzerBlitz or not, but if not, it's its long lost relative.


Absolutely not on that one. It's true that OGRE took a lot of inspiration from PanzerBlitz, in that it retained the pure IGO-UGO mechanic of unit movement, and absolutely no consideration of morale or unit effectiveness besides direct damage. (Or even, IIRC, something as simple as reaction fire)

If you were to describe the two defining elements that make APL's Panzer Grenadier what it is, it would be the extremely-effective morale and command-based activation systems.

OGRE is very nearly the exact opposite of a 'SciFi Panzer Grenadier'. (And I like OGRE just fine for what it is - the asymmetrical warfare nature of it...like, *extremely* asymmetrical...is absolutely fascinating. But as game mechanics go, it's very much rooted in its 1970s origin, and feels very dated in comparison to something as refined as the Pzg ruleset)
 
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Peter Lloyd
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rules_heretic wrote:
Actually what you are asking for is: Ogre

To be a quibbler here, I think you really meant G.E.V..

Regardless, Xander is correct, in that Ogre/GEV do not contain the operating mechanics which make PG work as it is. In fact, I would say, Ogre/GEV are in need of a serious rework to bring them up to current mechanics.

My concern with PG Sci-fi has more to do with backward compatibility. A PG game or P&P stand alone mod would probably be workable. Pitting armored jump troops vs. tanks is not likely to result in much of a game. If you look at things from the direct fire side, doesn't it start on the high end of the current scale?

C3 could be interesting. Something like command activation, regardless of range. Formation command similar to, but more diversified, as in BN?
 
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Steve G
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plloyd1010 wrote:

My concern with PG Sci-fi has more to do with backward compatibility. A PG game or P&P stand alone mod would probably be workable. Pitting armored jump troops vs. tanks is not likely to result in much of a game. If you look at things from the direct fire side, doesn't it start on the high end of the current scale?


With regards all unit numbers, a PG sci fi system would have to start at the beginning. It definitely shouldn't be compatible with the current pg titles.

I would think that weapons and armour remain relative to one another so that nothing becomes too overpowered.

Individual power armour could act more like a terrain benefit similar to a town or woodland hex, rather than another section of specific rules or unit stats.

As for 'jump' troops, if given same movement values as cavalry without terrain movement penalties that would seem OK to me. In combat, if attacking an enemy unit that they could see before an assault then they get the ability of first fire.


This potentially could balance out the overpowered nature of jump troops meaning in order to be effective they must start in the firing line otherwise they're just another combat unit making up numbers and they loose effectiveness after initial contact too.

As for armoured units I see no major difference between ww2 and a futuristic armoured vehicle assuming in design the armour value is always relative to the settings tech. Therefore, a spear against a stone wall is relative to a bullet against a 30mm thick armour plate.

I certainly wouldn't want to see values move up into the 100s to keep the game inkeeping with existing games.
 
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