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Subject: Perfect information & Friendly Fire? rss

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Christian Marcussen
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Hi.

Time and time again when I here soldiers speaking of tactics, the underline the importance of knowing where your comrads are, and avoiding killing them.

The tactical wargames that I have played (admittedly not that many) have not dealt with these issues at all. This made me think that it could be interesting to try inccorporate.

So my question is:

a) What wargames do actually take this into account
b) How could this be done without making game unsatisfying.
 
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Tuomas Riekkinen
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Cant remember myself any wargame actualy having friendly fire, sure there has to be some games out there, but its realy hard mechanism to use, closet thing probaly are things like misses in warhammer 40k/doom where the randomization of explosive ammo missing can hit friendly troops. Only game that actualy has friendly fire realy is the cheapass game lightspeed. There you hit your ships to table s fast as you can, and your bound to make mistake either in placement or when predicting the timing of the ships that causes you to shoot your own ships in resolution phase. The problem realy is how to present friendly fire as it isnt that easy to simulate
 
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Daniel Danzer
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"Friendly Fire" happens IMO, because

a) you see somebody, but don`t know, if it is friend or foe, and fire,

b) you miss your target and hit your own troops,

c) the hit is of such energy, that your troops near the target are "collaterally" damaged.

The hardest thing to incorporate would be, NOT to know exactly, where your soldiers are (a), while you playing the game. As a player, you normally have to know, where they are, or you can`t play.

Then, you had to implement a mechanism of randomizing, if you hit a target, or not (b).

Plus, a random element for the force of the hit (c), making it possible to damage more, than you wanted.

Makes the whole "war" kind of unpredictable, right? So, welcome to reality.

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Mike Jones
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Not really exactly what you are talking about. But, in first edition Space Hulk (I don't know if it was in 2nd edition) if a player went on 'overwatch' [the act of holding your fire until a target presented itself] then you had to fire at the next target that came into your line of sight. Of course, you got to choose the order you moved your pieces so it really didn't happen much. I only saw it happen a couple times in multiplayer games when under the stress of the timer one player moved all their pieces and the other player wasn't paying attention to the corridor that was being watch and walked right into it. BUT VERY RARE.

At least that's how I remember playing it some 20 years ago.
 
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Jeff Thompson
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ASL has some small amount of this.

There is a "Sniper" counter that introduces a bit of fate into the game. Even though it is called a sniper, it's effects could sometimes be seen as friendly fire.

In a scenario taking place at night (when friendly fire becomes even more of a problem) snipers effects happen more often. Also the defenders aren't allowed to move until certain conditions are met (partly due to fear of stumbling upon friendly forces and receiving friendly fire).
 
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Jim Ruddy
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Panzer Grenadier: The East Front (I have the 3rd Edition Rules) has basic friendly fire rules for artillery. If you are in the hex, you're hit. If you're beside the target hex, you *might* get hit. (Generally 1 in 3 or 1 in 6 odds)

From PG v3 rules:

9.5 Friendly Fire.If a target hex contains or is adjacent to a hex containing friendly units, the friendly units may be affected.

9.51 Same Hex.If bombardment fire hits an assault hex, both the friendly and enemy units will be affected. Roll two bombardment attacks - one for each side’s units – and determine column modifiers separately for each side’s units (7.52).

9.52 Adjacent Hex.If friendly units occupy a hex adjacent to a hex targeted for bombardment, the owning player rolls one die for each such hex. Add one to the result for German, British or American bombardment fire. On a modified result of 1 or 2, the hex is hit by friendly fire. Multiple adjacent hexes may be hit in this way. If an adjacent hex hit by friendly fire contains both friendly and enemy units, ONLY THE FRIENDLY UNITS are hit. (Note: This rule prevents players from hitting unspotted enemy units “accidentally” through friendly fire).If a hex is hit by friendly fire, roll another die and consult the “Friendly Fire Numbers” line on the Bombardment table. Resolve a bombardment fire attack against the friendly units in the hex, using the column
with the friendly fire number rolled (do not apply column modifiers).

9.53 Initial Target.If an adjacent hex is hit by friendly fire, the initial target hex is still bombarded normally (the fire does not “miss” the target hex).
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Matt Razincka
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Wow what an interesting topic. It seems like something that would really add depth to a game, but could make it awfully fiddly. A troop with a higher awareness/alertness/combat reflexes might recognize friendlies easier and be less likely to fire on them, but a green cadet could easily make the mistake...I could see this working in a skirmish type game, but would probably bog down a full scale wargame.
 
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Jason Sadler
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Orders are usually given that do not factor in the possible behavior of one of your moving elements. Perhaps you forgot that the support team is standing outside the building waiting to wax anyone that comes out of the building, maybe the Marines didn't tell you they would be moving through your Army AO, maybe 1st team zigged when you thought they would zag. The micro-logistics of combat operations could be a game unto themselves. I think, for this part of the reality of war, First Person Shooters are much better. Friendly Fire is the result of panic, fear, and breakdowns of communications which don't happen at the pace of a boardgame.
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Eric Jome
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marqzen wrote:

So my question is:

a) What wargames do actually take this into account
b) How could this be done without making game unsatisfying.


The closest thing I know of comes in miniatures wargames. When you choose to fire at a target in close combat with your troops, you run the risk of hitting your own soldiers. This rule is common in such games.

This is a mechanically very difficult thing to do. When a player has pieces, they are aware of all of their own pieces. They will choose not to have a unit fire on another.

As I think about this, I can imagine a way to accomplish it, but it would be a bit awkward.

You need a hex map, each hex numbered. You would give orders to units like "move 2345 to 2454". Orders would be revealed and the units moved - but with "drift". For example, as you move through close terrain, you'd increase your chances of ending up a hex to the left or right. Roll 1d6 for each forest hex, on a 1, the unit sideslips instead of moves forward, for example.

Now, add this to a system that requires units to fire on units in their control zone - frex, if a unit of infantry had a facing, perhaps their conrol zone would be the 4 hexes to the front. If they detected any units, friendly or not, in the zone they would have to attack. Perhaps they could be allowed a roll to identify the target, modified by cover...

As you can see, this is rapidly getting quite complex. Also, it takes control of the pieces away from the player. Some people might enjoy the "chaos of war" aspect, but I think many would not.

Good luck with it.
 
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Michael Parks
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Just an idea, but,


"a) you see somebody, but don`t know, if it is friend or foe, and fire,"
This is almost imposible in any usual tactics game since a player knows where his pieces are. Now it can be simulated by allowing players to trigger an effect (such as shooting at the first target that appears).


"b) you miss your target and hit your own troops,"
This is more easily done... Such as if a target is missed then a random number is used to decide where it lands. Of course in real life usually it is the first few shots that are those that go off course.


"c) the hit is of such energy, that your troops near the target are "collaterally" damaged."
Easy as in, a set of rules say how much damage is done but if it is in the rules players are unlikely to get caught by it. Another method might be to use a random number on top of a set damage number to vary damage and therefore cause possible casualties (but again players will take that into account rather easy).


I think if you want it to act like real life then you create rules that allow friendly fire. Like one of the posts mention, a situation in which the player can forget he has done something and that triggers it.
That and placing troops to close to an enemy that is being attacked by weapons that can cause broad damage.

I would say allow it but don't force it.

Just thoughts that came to me,
Mike
 
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Andrew Prizzi
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Friendly fire is definitely a major concern in real life combat that is hardly ever dealt with in board games. Here a few that I can think of:

Combat Commander: Europe- it's possible for your fire support to land on your own troops. Sniper events can also represent friendly fire.

Burning Drachens- when you are firing AAA you can hit your side's planes as well as the enemies'.

Battlemasters- As the chaos army, it's always great when the Empire's cannon kills their own guys, even better when it blows itself up.

D&D- not a board game, but if you're looking to capture some more tactical complexity without a bunch of rules this might be the way to go. In our games there was always a risk of fratricide when you fired missile weapons into a melee.

 
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Jason Sadler
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The only way I can think of for this to work in a board game is with four or more players and simultaneous, hidden, commands. If movement was resolved first, then all units with fire commands had to fire, you might very well experience that sinking
"I thought the enemy didn't have tracers."
"They don't"
"Oh shit! Get me a radio!"
feeling.

In fact, if comm rolls were made that allowed teammates to speak before placing orders, or even just showing each other one order, it would show the huge importance radios and other forms of communications have on the battlefield. These days the radio man may be the most important person next to the combat leaders.
 
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John O'Haver
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In one or more of Columbia's Dixie card game series, Artillery firing at Long Range in Support of an Infantry Melee had a 1 in 6 chance of hitting friendly regiments.
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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In Up Front, the "Wire" card is meant to be more of a SNAFU-type card, representing any number of events that could pin or slow a squad. One of the effects could certainly be friendly fire, though this is admittedly fairly abstract (even for Up Front).

Combat Commander: Europe originally had a friendly fire rule. You were not allowed to trace LOS at any time -- if, after declaring a fire, you had no LOS to the target, one firing piece would break due to friendly fire. The outcry on ConSimWorld was deafening, and the rule no longer exists.
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Christian Marcussen
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Hi guys...

Thanks for all the great posts. It does indeed seem like an underdeveloped issue in boardgaming. But perhaps for a reason... That Combat Commander example isn't reasuring

In general I think people tend to be a little conservative. It's hard to suddenly accept that your units can do friendly fire, or you can't be entirely sure where your units are.

It's clear that artillery and grenades seem to be the most common type of FF in games.

Hmmm.. it's a tough nut to crack... especially considering it may not need to be cracked
 
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Ken K
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Okay, this may not be all that satisfying in actual play, but you could have a board for throwing dice with several areas marked "freindly" fire. If a die lands totally within this area the hit is applied to the attacker's nearest unit instead of the defender. The more dice used in an assault, the greater the chaos and the greater the chance of such loss. Might even add a dexterity element to throwing the dice.

If the attacker invests in "perfect information" or extra command points he could buy-off a certain number of freindly hits.

Good post Christian!
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Christian Marcussen
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Professor Plum wrote:
Okay, this may not be all that satisfying in actual play, but you could have a board for throwing dice with several areas marked "freindly" fire. If a die lands totally within this area the hit is applied to the attacker's nearest unit instead of the defender. The more dice used in an assault, the greater the chaos and the greater the chance of such loss. Might even add a dexterity element to throwing the dice.

If the attacker invests in "perfect information" or extra command points he could buy-off a certain number of freindly hits.

Good post Christian!


That's actually a pretty fun and simple way of doing the FF part. But as you say, it might not be satisfactory.

Another a varriant of the same idea would simply to have FF occur if there are more rolls of one than 6. Or have simply rolls of one result in FF which would mean the more dice the more chaos/chance of FF (as with your dice throwing idea).

But it does seem like people would dislike it. Perhaps this FF thing only applies if the squad is suprised, or they aren't in close proximity to any commanders. That way it wouldnt be completely random, but controllable by a few factors which in turn would enhance the need for good tactics.
 
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Michael Parks
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You might use a unique die in the roll.
Say if your mechanics have you roll more dice depending on the strength of the attack then you could add one unique die per so many normal rolling dice. The unique die would show ff if the die resulted in a certain number or range. The more normal dice rolled the greater the chance since it increases the number of unique die rolled.

I like the idea that if research is put into communications and command control then the player gets so many points a turn to buy off the unique dice roll.

Of course you need to limit it to only be used if a friendly force is within so many spaces of the attack area.

Just an idea
Mike
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Mark Luta
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Several games do allow artillery or air support attacks to land off-target, or even possibly to be called down with one's own troops in the impact radius. Also, in the SPQR classical tactical system, elephants charging which take hits can actually charge off in a random direction, often through friendly lines!

However, I think any games where morale is a factor can be thought to indirectly take this into account. Examples would be Squad Leader, the Clash of Arms battalion level games, many Napoleonic tactical games. When troops get disordered or rout for no apparent reason (the BAR system from Clash of Arms even allows for special morale results which can rout not only the unit making the morale check, but also any adjacent friendly units!), we could conjecture one reason might be friendly fire. Also, when leaders die, who knows which side's bullet made the kill?

In the old Battleline game 'Fury in the West' (battle of Shiloh, US Civil War), the night combat rules have die rolls that adjust the odds in close combat, this could be thought to simulate a number of difficulties, friendly fire being one.

As a general comment, I think one reason for lack of specific need for separate friendly fire rules is this generally happens at night, when most battles were fought by day, from artillery or air support, where there are frequently rules for off-target hits, or in meeting engagements, where units from the same side enter the area--this last would normally occur before the battle we are fighting started, so would be taken into account with the initial deployments.
 
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marqzen wrote:
Time and time again when I here soldiers speaking of tactics, the underline the importance of knowing where your comrads are, and avoiding killing them.

The tactical wargames that I have played (admittedly not that many) have not dealt with these issues at all. This made me think that it could be interesting to try inccorporate.

So my question is:

a) What wargames do actually take this into account
b) How could this be done without making game unsatisfying.


Great observations.

I don't know (m)any games that regulate(s) these sorts of activities without getting caught up in special rules covering "doctrine." (Combat Commander and similar squad-level games often feature random events to account for what amounts to friendly-fire occurences).

Based on my own limited observations and general reading:

In real life, combat formations often have boundaries (an imaginery line parallel to the axis of advance) and phase lines (an imaginary line generally perpendicular to the axis of advance) that help both the staff and soldiers on the ground know generally who should be to their left or right--and when--while on the move.

During road movements, there is an order of march and units will pull into a column as the unit designated they are designated to fall in behind rolls by.

At the platoon and squad level, the platoon and squad leaders try to keep the squads and teams organized so that no group or individual crosses in front of the other when the shooting starts (and carefully sequences "bounding overwatches" before it does).

Personally, given what wargame designers prefer to model and what they don't, I think it would be easier to enforce a few special rules that account for these sorts of doctrinal procedures.

Some simple, general rules for almost any wargame might be:

When you touch a unit, you must move it. When you let go of it, it stops.

Units my not cross in front of friendly units during movement.

Direct lines of fire may never be traced through a friendly unit.

A unit may not pass through another while moving along a road unless the occupying unit is specified to be off the road.

Passing through a friendly unit expends at least half your movement. (Or the passed-through unit may not move.)

Etc.


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Jon M
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What a great question/idea. I think this comes into the whole chaos of war issue. No game can replicate that realistically and this includes FF. Most FF is usually a mistake in target identification (c.f. US aircraft bombing their own side) rather than missed ordnance. Most games that do model it seem to model the missed ordnance rather than target aquisition.

A relativly simple rule would be that any time a unit moves into another's field of fire for the first time there is a chance they will be fired upon. If they are fired upon then there is a chance that fire will be returned, etc. If the unit starts the turn in communication with the other unit (e.g. 1 hex apart or adjacent) then there is no risk of it occuring.

The choice then is to play fast and loose and risk FF or be more methodical and plodding to totally eliminate it. Calling in an airstrike will always be a risk, since ground units may target the air or vice versa.
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Christian Marcussen
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Jon_1066 wrote:
What a great question/idea. I think this comes into the whole chaos of war issue. No game can replicate that realistically and this includes FF. Most FF is usually a mistake in target identification (c.f. US aircraft bombing their own side) rather than missed ordnance. Most games that do model it seem to model the missed ordnance rather than target aquisition.

A relativly simple rule would be that any time a unit moves into another's field of fire for the first time there is a chance they will be fired upon. If they are fired upon then there is a chance that fire will be returned, etc. If the unit starts the turn in communication with the other unit (e.g. 1 hex apart or adjacent) then there is no risk of it occuring.

The choice then is to play fast and loose and risk FF or be more methodical and plodding to totally eliminate it. Calling in an airstrike will always be a risk, since ground units may target the air or vice versa.


Nice. I can see that working - especially if coupled with some kind of limitation like this mostly occuring during night, or if they have low morale/leadership.

Now most of these talks have been about FF - but what about perfect information?

One idea could be to play a blocks game but with blocks face down. The controlling player may then look at a unit if it's close to a leader. If no leader is close he can still move the unit and look at it then. The player then needs to remember to his best ability which units are which. Might be fun - might not... What other ideas can you think of?
 
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Kevin Roach
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Not having read all the replies, I would think Random events could easily take care of any friendly fire occurrences, along with ant other snafu's you want. Also, it can be tailored to the flow and scope of the game.
 
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Ken K
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Y'know Christian, the more I think about this thread the more i think there's a really cool idea for a game in here.

The focus could be the title of your post: Perfect Information vs Friendly Fire.

I see it as a light, quick and brutal war game played out with cards or a minimum board presence where players gather intelligence and position themselves for a final round where anything that can go wrong probably will. Winning the objective is balanced against minimizing casualties. It could be squad-level, under 30 minutes and pretty suspensful.

Have you given this much thought? I think it would be new ground.
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Christian Marcussen
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Hi Ken.

No, I have not given it much thought in terms of mechanics. In terms of the problem itself then yes... it has been in my head for quite some time.

Currently I'm still juggling around 8-10 game ideas and need to settle on one. Making threads as these helps me getting closer to which game I should focus on. So no - mechanically I have not yet given it much thought. But I have quite a few (as far as I know) novel game mechanics for a wargame (apart from FF and elimination of perfect info). So if I put them all together it may prove to be something new... But new is not always good
 
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