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Subject: My own design: Tactical Vietnam War Game rss

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Markus Pausch
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I’m developing a Vietnam wargame, called Command Group for many years and I just want to put my concepts out, hoping that I get constructive feedback and criticism from you. Stories about the Vietnam War or your time in the military are also welcome.

The game is your standard tactical squad level wargame, with a lot of stuff borrowed from ASL. A game turn is divided into 6 phases: 1. initiative 2. rally 3. events 4. activations 5. rout 6. close combat. My first scenario is about a company of paratroopers, who run into the rearguard of a NVA battalion at the Ngok Kom Leat Hill. Here are some concepts:


Activation
After set up, the players will receive a certain amount of commando point markers, which will be used to bet on initiative, purchase action cards or retry certain checks, like moral or activation.
The players draw activation chits to activate a whole platoon formation or squads belonging to that formation. The chits will be stacked upside down on top of each other and the player, who has won the initiative is allowed to look a the top chits and could change their order or putting them at the bottom of the stack. The number of chits, the player can look at is the number of command points he used for the bet.

A platoon consists of a Command Group (hence the working title) and 3 or 4 squads. The squads adjacent to the Command Group will be automatically activated. All others units not in range or in the absence of a Command Group, must perform an activation check.
Units could always fire at an enemy unit in line of sight, even if they fail the activation check. (The idea behind this is that squad leaders often don’t carry radios with them or the radios didn’t function properly.) There is also a Command Confusion chit which causes the confusion (guess what!) of the Command Group, so all other units of that formation must try to activate themselves
The Command Group also could call in an airstrike with an event card, so the HQ is busy and the Squads must be activated like they are out of range.

An activated squad could fire, cautious advance, assault, move, transport WIAs and so on.

Action Cards
I adopted the concept of action cards form fields of fire. These cards are uses to determine the outcome of firefights, melee, accuracy of air- an arty strikes, weapon breakdowns and moral checks. I used the traditional card game symbols heart, spade, clubs and diamonds. If a unit want to perform a certain task like rallying, they must draw a heart symbol with X number of cards. X depends on their moral, the area they are in and if the enemy is near and/or have a LOS (I assume that only wargamers are still reading, so I use wargame terms without explanation) to them.


Units
All units, squads and teams (halfsquads if you want) have values for firepower, close combat, range, movement points and morale. On their backside is their surpressed status, with reduced values.
Command groups have values for morale and movement points.
You have regular US-infantry rifle squads with good range an firepower but the could only move four clear terrain hexes. On the US side there are also members of the civilian irregular defense group (CIDG) with very bad values for firepower and moral. (I just read about them: they had WWII equipment and were not exactly keen on fighting)
Finally there are NVA (North Vietnamese Army, not Nationale Volks Armee) which have lesser firepower, than the GIs; but have a movement of 6 points and are better at close combat.
The latter has the goal, that the NVA player always tries to get into close combat with the US player, rather than having a shootout with the better equipt enemy.

Firefights
To determine to outcome of a fire attack you take a unit’s firepower add any bonuses and subtract the morale of the attacked units and the terrain defense modifier from the number. The number you get is the modified firepower. Then an action card is drawn; which have numbers reaching from –2 to 5. You look into the corresponding row for the result, which can be: miss, surpressed, broken, casualties and eliminated.
For example: a NVA Squad (4 firepower) with an RPD MG( 2 firepower) shoots at a US unit (morale: 2) in normal range in a bamboo groove (TEM: 1). So you have 4+2-2-1=3. A card is drawn and under 3 there is the result: surpressed.


Hope you guys liked some of my ideas. I have more to write about, close combat, OBA, events, mortars, bunkers, helicopters, WIA. At the moment I’m kind of WIA since I managed to break my arm in a bike accident, which also means: I have time to develop my game.
Hope the MMP guys don’t beat me to it. Front Towards Enemy looks very cool!
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brant G
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Sounds a lot like Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of the Nam w/ the action cards from '65: Squad-Level Combat in the Jungles of Vietnam
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Markus Pausch
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Well, okay, but compared to lock'n'load: Forgotten Heroes my game has:

-much quicker combat resolution: one card draw instead two dice rolls
-a realistic way of portraying the command structure
-a lot more changes to use airstrikes, gunship attacks and off board artillery, which the US-side rely on heavily
-wounded soldiers, that need to be evacuated
-support weapon jams
-rules for hidden units movement
-command confusion
-hills, lots of!

I haven't played '65, but I heard it plays a bit slower than LnL, so I saw no need to get this.

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suPUR DUEper
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Thanks for posting this! I always have my eyes open for a Vietnam game....

Most games have points of view or aspects of the conflict that they are emphasizing through their game- what are yours?

A few random thoughts:

-I have been playing SPI's old Search and Destroy game. One of the coolest features is that the VC start face down (hidden) on the map. There are also dummy units and hidden caches of supplies (guns, rice, ammo, etc.). When the US begins their sweep, they are not exactly sure where the enemy is. Makes for a lot of tension.

-I don't think the VC/NVA were better in close combat than US troops. I think they preferred CC because the alternative was usually to get pounded by support arms. Rather than give the NVA a bonus to their CC strength, maybe give them an incentive to engage in CC. Perhaps something like more points for US casualties and/or make it more difficult for the US to use supporting arms if the NVA is in close proximity.

-On a related note, maybe the US doesn't get points for casualties that can be verified (i.e. by arty or air)

-Depending on the scale of the game, I am always a bit leery about "bonuses" given due to nationalistic differences (i.e. like the NVA gets a cover bonus in jungle or moves faster) especially once the battle is joined.

-I like the idea of incorporating casualties into the model. The US would attempt medevac in general but would also go to great lengths to retrieve wounded and killed soldiers.

Keep us posted!




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suPUR DUEper
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Helmet Lampshade wrote:
I haven't played '65, but I heard it plays a bit slower than LnL, so I saw no need to get this.


'65 is lightning quick. Much faster than LnL IMO. Probably a little lighter on the simulation scale though.
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brant G
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Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-much quicker combat resolution: one card draw instead two dice rolls

That's what '65 does for you, but those 2 die rolls are also simultaneous

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-a realistic way of portraying the command structure

Not a lot of tactical games do this well, so it'll be interesting to see what you come up with

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-a lot more changes to use airstrikes, gunship attacks and off board artillery, which the US-side rely on heavily

LNLT does this, especially OBA

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-wounded soldiers, that need to be evacuated

LNLT and '65 both have wounded units. Evac is another issue, especially since the evac process usually takes way more time than is simulated within the time frame of a single engagement on the board

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-support weapon jams

Most tactical games (ATS/LNLT/ASL) do this

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-rules for hidden units movement

This is always a tricky one. Ted mentioned one. But Mark Walker (original LNLT designer, and '65 designer) hates hidden movement

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-command confusion

yep, tied in w/ above, this will interesting to see

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
-hills, lots of!

pretty much every game can do this. some just do it better than others

Helmet Lampshade wrote:
I haven't played '65, but I heard it plays a bit slower than LnL, so I saw no need to get this.

Like Ted said, definitely not slower, but maybe not as deep. Tougher to do BIG engagements with '65 too b/c of map/counter size.
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Markus Pausch
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thanks for your detailed answer!

TedW wrote:
-I have been playing SPI's old Search and Destroy game. One of the coolest features is that the VC start face down (hidden) on the map. There are also dummy units and hidden caches of supplies (guns, rice, ammo, etc.). When the US begins their sweep, they are not exactly sure where the enemy is. Makes for a lot of tension.


I simulated hidden or obscured units in three ways.

1. You have a hidden unit marker on the board and some, one or none units at the hidden unit display. the other player can't attack those units. He have to move into their hex to find out. If there are enemy units the enemy can immediately open fire and the active unit will be put back the hex, where they came from. If hidden units move or shoot, they will be immediately revealed.

2.If units shoot the will receive a "fired" marker, which will decrease the defense by one. If they move, they get a "exposed" marker an their defense is reduced by two. The markers will be removed at the end of the game turn. So if they just sit still, they are harder to target.

3. In scenario the NVA player can build several paths from hidden markers. These markers are two hexes apart and are numbered on the backs.
the NVA player could move his units on the hidden unit display. I better give an example: There is a path made up of three hidden unit markers, with the numbers 1, 2, 3 on they back. The all out of enemy LOS. The NVA could move his units from 1 to 2 in the first turn and from 2 to 3 in the next. After the NVA leaves the last hidden marker, the player must put the units on the board.

TedW wrote:
-I don't think the VC/NVA were better in close combat than US troops. I think they preferred CC because the alternative was usually to get pounded by support arms. Rather than give the NVA a bonus to their CC strength, maybe give them an incentive to engage in CC. Perhaps something like more points for US casualties and/or make it more difficult for the US to use supporting arms if the NVA is in close proximity.


Ok, I consider this. Maybe I can make this a victory condition, that they have to eliminate a certain number of units in CC.

TedW wrote:
-On a related note, maybe the US doesn't get points for casualties that can be verified (i.e. by arty or air)

I have this already. US troops must move to the hex with NVA casualties in order to get victory points.


TedW wrote:
-Depending on the scale of the game, I am always a bit leery about "bonuses" given due to nationalistic differences (i.e. like the NVA gets a cover bonus in jungle or moves faster) especially once the battle is joined.

I understand what you mean: Vietnamese fighters are often portrayed as stealthy killer machines in pop culture. I once read an article on cracked.com from an ex-VC. He says that he and his comrades where just country boys and afraid of the dark like the enemy. So had to be careful not to use cliches like asian hand-to-hand combat experts!

My idea was, to reflect that the GIs carry too much stuff, they get only four movement points (so four clear hexes/turn, with one hex about 50 meters wide) But they have more firepower thanks to M-79 or rifle grenade launchers. NVA traveled lighter and the carried just an AK, so they have six movement points but lesser firepower. I hope you can live with that.


TedW wrote:
Keep us posted!


I will. Thanks a lot for you detailed comments.
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Markus Pausch
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bayonetbrant wrote:

That's what '65 does for you, but those 2 die rolls are also simultaneous

I was talking about LnL:FH. One attack roll, one defense roll, one damage check roll. Wait, that's three dice rolls!


bayonetbrant wrote:
Not a lot of tactical games do this well, so it'll be interesting to see what you come up with

It probably won't come up to your expectations: you draw an actvation chit. On it is the Platoon designation like 2nd PLT D. Then this PLT HQ can activate all his Squads in his range, usually one hex. Units outside that range have to try self-activation. So a platoon stays (hopefully) together, and units don't wander of to other platoons.


bayonetbrant wrote:
LNLT does this, especially OBA


4 or so of the the 12 scenarios use OBA. In the firefights I wanted to simulate, the US side used 105mm guns, F-100 and gunship attacks, several times.


bayonetbrant wrote:
LNLT and '65 both have wounded units. Evac is another issue, especially since the evac process usually takes way more time than is simulated within the time frame of a single engagement on the board

In LnL:FH there are no rules for wounded units. Maybe in an scenario, I didn't play.


bayonetbrant wrote:
Most tactical games (ATS/LNLT/ASL) do this


No rules for weapon jams in LnL:FH.

bayonetbrant wrote:

This is always a tricky one. Ted mentioned one. But Mark Walker (original LNLT designer, and '65 designer) hates hidden movement

Units could move from one face down hidden counter to the next. They move on a display from one number to the next. The paths are out of LOS. It serves the purpose, that the US player cannot see what comes his way, so can't adjust his defenses.

bayonetbrant wrote:

yep, tied in w/ above, this will interesting to see

It is just a chit, says command confusion, when it is drawn the next activation chit is drawn. This formation HQ can't give any orders.

bayonetbrant wrote:

pretty much every game can do this. some just do it better than others

My scenarios are set in the Vietnamese Highlands. LnL is set mostly in the southern countryside, so there are two or three hills. Not to be taken so serious.

bayonetbrant wrote:

Like Ted said, definitely not slower, but maybe not as deep. Tougher to do BIG engagements with '65 too b/c of map/counter size.

I'm looking forward for Front Toward Enemy, this looks like it simulates big engagements.

Thanks for your comments, some critisism is helpful to flesh out my game!
 
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Markus Pausch
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My fault: there are rules for SW jams in the LnLT. I just downloaded the new LNLT starter kit.
 
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I was going to add that if your frame of reference in Forgotten Heroes, then there's 12-14 years of system development you're missing out on
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bayonetbrant wrote:
I was going to add that if your frame of reference in Forgotten Heroes, then there's 12-14 years of system development you're missing out on

Na, I got the V3.1 edition, so that was about 6 years ago. But I suppose,there aren't dramatic changes in the system, right?
 
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Markus Weihrauch
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I played the "introductory" mission the other day with you. Have you considered providing this one as a PnP version some day?
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Clint Pewtress
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Helmet Lampshade wrote:
bayonetbrant wrote:
I was going to add that if your frame of reference in Forgotten Heroes, then there's 12-14 years of system development you're missing out on

Na, I got the V3.1 edition, so that was about 6 years ago. But I suppose,there aren't dramatic changes in the system, right?


Sitting at 4.1 now... LnL will soon be releasing 5.0, primarily making WW2 and Modern one comprehensive, indexed, ruleset instead of the current dual versions.

I didn’t care for ‘65, but really like LnL system... I am interested to see how your system fleshes out.

Clint
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Barry Kendall
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I was going to mention the upcoming "Front Toward Enemy," but I see you are aware of it. I thought your description sounded similar in some respects and didn't want you to get stuck investing in further design/publication of something very like it.

That said, personally I don't think there can be too many tactical Vietnam games. I hope you'll continue this thread as your development work moves forward.
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Barry Kendall wrote:
I was going to mention the upcoming "Front Toward Enemy," but I see you are aware of it. I thought your description sounded similar in some respects and didn't want you to get stuck investing in further design/publication of something very like it.

That said, personally I don't think there can be too many tactical Vietnam games. I hope you'll continue this thread as your development work moves forward.


I was fiddling with the rules for more than 8 years, when suddenly FTE was announced. Holy crap, I thought now you have to get your game out before MMP does.shake Alejandro Jodorowsky must have felt the same, when he was working on his Dune-Project, and David Lynch get his version to the big screen. Not that I want to compare myself with this director in any way.

But nevermind, when I finetune the rules, I will have a system which can be easily applied to other modern wars. So next game could be set Korea, Afghanistan or Ethiopia.
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JoystickZ wrote:
I played the "introductory" mission the other day with you. Have you considered providing this one as a PnP version some day?


Yes, that's is a good idea.
 
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tailz wrote:
Helmet Lampshade wrote:
bayonetbrant wrote:
I was going to add that if your frame of reference in Forgotten Heroes, then there's 12-14 years of system development you're missing out on

Na, I got the V3.1 edition, so that was about 6 years ago. But I suppose,there aren't dramatic changes in the system, right?


Sitting at 4.1 now... LnL will soon be releasing 5.0, primarily making WW2 and Modern one comprehensive, indexed, ruleset instead of the current dual versions.

I didn’t care for ‘65, but really like LnL system... I am interested to see how your system fleshes out.

Clint


I'm not the biggest fan of the LnL system, so I didn't kept up with the latest developments. In my game it has to be effing dangerous to approach an unsupressed unit. In LnL a unit was activated, you could approach it with no worries: you know for sure it won't fire this round again.

Ok, you could argue that everything happens simultaneously: unit a shoots at moving enemy b and therefore has no time for enemy c, which is coming for them. The only problem is that it doesn't: you activate units one after another. ASL and BOB simulating this aspect very well. Units have a change for OP fire even after their activation.

But everybody has his own preferences, when it comes to war games.

 
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suPUR DUEper
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I like LnL because it is clean. That said, you do play a bit of game moving units trying to tempt a player to use their one opp fire knowing that once they have shot you can saunter down the road.

I wonder if some sort of penalty (like a -1 to hit) each time a unit opp fires would help with that. It would make it so you are not one and done but also "simulate" a unit getting overwhelmed by too many targets or a mad rush.
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Markus Pausch
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Here is a example of a game round.
The Situation:
Kontum province, South Vietnam. 6. Nov. 1967. A company of the 173 Airborne Brigade was on a recon mission in the Central Highlands, when the found a commo wire leading up a ridge. The paratroopers supported by a platoon of montagnard irregulars followed the wire to a knoll, where the found traces of enemy soldiers. When the made a sweep further up the ridge, they took fire from the enemy. A squad was detached to flank the enemy position, when it also made contact in a clearing. A firefight ensues..



The starting positions: there are two improvised platoons and their command groups (the feature a star) with six M60 machineguns. Also a platoon of montgnards. Before the Scenario they US side exchanged fire with a NVA platoon manning a RDP. The hidden markers represent hidden paths for the NVA player. The terrain features thick jungle (dark und light green trees) bamboo (lights green bushes) and light jungle (a couple of trees). I doubt there were a lot of clear terrain, but I just put it there to make the game more interesting. The dots in the middle of the hexes shows if the terrain is blocking (black), degrading (yellowish green) clear (white). The second US platoon (mistake: 2st PLT D) has a line of sight over the trees to the NVA platoon and vice versa. And a trail was added with a text marker...
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The Game Turn:
There are 6 phases 1. initiative phase 2. rally phase 3. event phase 4. activation phase 5. rout phase 6. close combat phase.
Activation chits, one for every platoon and one Command Confusion chit are shuffled and put next the board.

1.Initiative phase
Both players receive their Command points (CP) and bid them to gain initiative. CP points also could also be used to buy event cards, re-roll moral and activation checks, The US player bids one of his four, and the NVA two of his three. Initiative goes to NVA.


The NVA player is allowed to look a at the two Activation chit at the top since he bid two CP. It is the 3rd NVA Platoon and a Confusion chit. He puts the the latter chit a the bottom of the stack and put the other chit back on top.

2. Rally phase

This phase is skipped

 
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3. Event phase
The players could play event cards ant the purchase new cards for 1 CP per card. Alternatively, for two CP the players could draw three cards and keep one.


The NVA player spends his remaining CP and draws- a RPG-2! The US side spends two CP and draws 3 cards: flare signal (you could activate a unit out of command range), M 79 (+3 firepower, range: 2 hexes) and concentrated fire (+2 firepower). He keeps the M 79 and discards the other two.

 
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4. Activation Phase
The first actvation chit is drawn and to no surprise to the NVA the 3rd NVA PLT on the hill is activated. The Squad with RDP targets the US unit in hex 0411.



Their total Firepower (FP) is 7. The defence of the Command Group is 4 (morale 3 + bamboo forest 1). The modified FP is 3. The result is: missed. Next up is the Squad: FP 7- defence 3 (morale 2 + bamboo forest 1)= 4. The result is: shocked (or broken if you will). So a hail of 7.62 bullets zipping through the jungle, leaves and splinters raining on the Americans, soldiers just hitting the ground with no intention to return the fire.



The other NVA squad target the squad across the clearing hex 0313. Their 4 FP – (jungle 2+ morale 2) 4 defense = 0 modified FP. The result is missed. Both NVA units are marked with fired (their defense is lowered by 1). The NVA player tries to activate the squad out command range. The symbol heart is needed. One action card is drawn and it’s a diamond. Unsure what to do, the soldiers stay put..


The rest of the phase:
That was it for the 3rd NVA platoon. Next draw activates the the 2nd US Platoon. They direct their fire against the RDP squad, but the fail to make any big impression. Next the squad, who wanted to flank the enemy position, have a successful activation and decided he moves back to the company perimeter. The shocked squad can’t be activated this turn.
Next the 1st US platoon chit is drawn. They decide to keep their eyes open for a potential enemy attack, so they marked with a ready marker.
The next chit activates the 2nd NVA Platoon, a command group ,1 squad, 2 teams hidden under a hidden path marker in hex 0614. They could put their units on the hidden marker or adjacent to it. The squads and the teams try to rush the enemy. The squads of the 1st and 2nd US platoon give them hell and all 3 units are pinned or shocked.



Another NVA platoon moves along the hidden path markers on the top of the board and the CIDG get ready, which concludes this phase. All fired, moved and activated markers are then removed.


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5. Rout Phase
The player, who has the initiative starts to retreat his units.
The two NVA units with a shocked have to rout with their movement allowance of 6 until they are out of enemy LOS. The pinned unit must make a unmodified morale check. Since this units moral is two, it draws two cards. It got heart symbol: a success. They stay where they are.
The shocked US squad is not adjacent to enemy unit, so there is no need for a moral check.



6. Close Combat
No close combat this turn.


 
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TedW wrote:
I like LnL because it is clean. That said, you do play a bit of game moving units trying to tempt a player to use their one opp fire knowing that once they have shot you can saunter down the road.

I wonder if some sort of penalty (like a -1 to hit) each time a unit opp fires would help with that.It would make it so you are not one and done but also "simulate" a unit getting overwhelmed by too many targets or a mad rush.


Have you played Band of Brothers? I really like the way they handled the OP fire. Once a unit is marked as used it could only use final OP fire against adjacent targets. Or you can spent a Command Point to shoot at target at the normal range. Very simple and clean.
It prevents that you just walk up to an activated unit, knowing that these guys won't shoot at your guys.


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suPUR DUEper
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Have the game but haven't played it yet. Been spending most of my time in country.....
 
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