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Subject: Special dice = SWAT rss

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Chris Roper
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One of the major benefits of Richard Borg’s “Command & Colors” rules system is the use of “Battle Dice” as opposed to lookup tables. The system has been proven to work well in conjunction with the “Command and Tactic” cards, which provide the Period Flavor to the game. The result is a good wargame that can be played in minuets, rather than hours, and appeals to non-wargamers and Grognards alike.

However, being a miniatures game, it is easy to add (and for the Grognards probably impossible to avoid adding) troop types to the game. One box of Italeri German Infantry, for example, adds Mortars, Panzerschreck, HMG and LMG to the mix, whilst Italeri German Paratroopers will add the Panzerfaust. (Other sets of 1:72 figures may add other features, Italeri just happens to be my personal favorite, hence the example.)

This then begs the question of why, and how, to use these figures in the game without unduly adding to the complexity and, therefore, playability of the game.

The “Why” is easy to answer.

Although the included figures are well sculpted, they are all of one pose (per army). Adding a set or two of 1:72 figures, into the mix improves the overall look of the game, and at the same time it gives us an excuse to buy those “toy soldiers” that we have all missed since we grew up and got jobs, wives, etc.

The “How” is slightly more complex.

If you are happy to use the extra figures for aesthetic reasons, as above, then so be it, however, if you wish to use the new figures in their historical roles you need to expand the rules, or add house rules, to accommodate the new pieces.

House Rules tend to vary from new cards to additional charts to reflect the capabilities of the units concerned. Even the official rules of Memoir’44 add markers or extra figures to indicate Special Forces. Whilst this may improve their movement and/or durability it doesn’t influence their firepower.

In Memoir’44 (and other command and colors games) the dice represent firepower and, although the dice are well designed and well play tested, they weigh heavily against the infantry at all times. This is not a bad idea as infantry are soft targets by nature. But increasing the number of dice rolled, in order to implement a new weapon type, may unduly impact on the infantry, and hence the game balance.

Thus I propose that new types of units can be introduced, and existing units improved, by the simple addition of three new dice.

Key to following examples:

G = Grenade
S = Star
A = Armor
I = Infantry
F = Flag

The Standard Die is marked as G S A I I F with the following chance of hits:

Infantry = 50% (G I I)
Armor = 33% (G A)
Artillery = 16% (G)
Retreat = 16% (F)
Miss = 16% (S)

(I know that doesn’t add up to 100% but that’s Statistics for you,{lies, damn lies and statistics} as Sir Winston Churchill said).

The game can accommodate several new unit types, and improve on existing play, simply by introducing some new six sided dice to the mix as follows;

Artillery Die = G G S A I F Green
Antitank Die = G S A A I F Black
Support Die = G S A I F F Red

Justification:

Artillery Die

In the existing rules Artillery fire at 332211 with the standard dice.

I strongly believe that, although an artillery round might not destroy a tank, the concussion effect of a round landing beside the tank is just a likely to disable the crew as the shrapnel is to disable a squad.

Thus the Artillery die has the following markings and probabilities:

Artillery Die = G G S A I F

Infantry = 50% (G G I)
Armor = 50% (G G A)
Artillery = 33% (G G)
Retreat = 16% (F)
Miss = 16% (S)

This leaves the odds of hitting infantry as it was, whilst increasing the odds of hitting amour and artillery (counter battery fire).

In addition to the onboard artillery, this die may also be used to represent squads equipped with Mortars by substituting 1 or 2 of the standard dice, with an Artillery die, depending on the size of the weapon (60mm, 80mm etc.). For instance, a normal squad would fire 321 with standard dice, whereas a squad equipped with a 80mm mortar could use 1 Standard die and two Artillery dice.

Antitank Die

Several antitank weapons were in use by all forces involved in WW2 and ranged in size from the Panzerfaust to the self-propelled gun. The Antitank Die is intended to represent these weapons with the hollowing effects:

Antitank Die = G S A A I F

Infantry = 33% (G I)
Armor = 50% (G A A)
Artillery = 16% (G)
Retreat = 16% (F)
Miss = 16% (S)

This reflects the squads increased effectiveness against amour at the cost of reduced effectiveness against infantry, as you are more likely to hit an opposing infantry man with a burst of bullets than with a bazooka round.

If a normal squad would fire 321 with standard dice, substituting one or more Antitank Dice would represent the effect of antitank weapons. A squad armed with a Panzerfaust would throw 1 antitank die and 2 standard dice at close range, whilst a Panzerschreck or Bazooka would substitute 2 Antitank dice for increased range.

The Self Propelled Gun would fire as Armour, 333, but using the Antitank dice, as opposed to the standard dice, to represent its tank busting ability. This same principal may be extended to represent the type of rounds fired by, and the strength of, different tanks by substituting Artillery or Antitank dice for 1, 2 or all three of the standard dice.

Support Die

In addition to their antitank weapons and mortars infantry squads were equipped with several support weapons such as HMG’s and Flame-throwers. These weapons had a profound psychological effect on troops. It was difficult to stay in a bunker for instance, when attacked by a flame-thrower, or to charge across open ground covered by a Heavy Machine Gun. This Die attempts to capture the effect of such weapons.

Support Die = G S A I F F

Infantry = 33% (G I)
Armor = 33% (G A)
Artillery = 16% (G)
Retreat = 33% (F F)
Miss = 16% (S)

A squad equipped with a flame-thrower could substitute 1 or 2 of the standard dice for Support Dice in order to flush a bunker at close range. Alternatively a HMG could fire 333 with Support dice to repel or pin an attacking squad.

Implementation

For any one who was persistent enougth to read this for, I suggest the following implementation, and encourage your feedback on this idea.

Whilst the above may appear complex on first reading, if it is implemented properly it should greatly increase the historical flavor of the game with only a slight increase in game play complexity. This could be achieved by a combination of color-coded dice and squad reference cards, similar to the current terrain cards.

For the sake of simplicity only one special weapon should be assigned per squad and it is the last figure to be removed, thus the squad retains the special ability as other members take over the weapon.

With the dice colored as:

Standard Die = G S A I I F White
Artillery Die = G G S A I F Green
Antitank Die = G S A A I F Black
Support Die = G S A I F F Red

The simplest implementation would be to retain the existing roll of 321 for infantry but substituting 1 die of the appropriate type for the support weapon. On the other end of the scale, however, an almost infinite combination of dice may be used to represent specific weapons. I leave it up to the individual players to decide on the level of complexity that suits them.

At the interim level I propose the following formations and die combinations based on Italeri figures:

Squad type Range Dice Used

Panzerfaust 321 BWW WW W
Panzerschreck 321 BBW BW B
Bazooka 321 BBW BW B

LMG 321 RWW RW W
HMG 333 RRR RRW RWW

8mm Mortar 321 GRR GR G

Flame-thrower 321 RRW RW W

Heavy Artillery 332211 GGG GGG GG GG G G
Field guns 332211 GGG GGR GG GR G R
AntiTank Guns 333 BBB BBR BRR

As with all rule sets only play testing will determine if the rules meet their objective, or not, and as such I would welcome the feedback from any players who decide to try this idea. I would also welcome discussion on the appropriate combination of dice to represent different units, and their weapons, that fought in WW2.

Cheers
Chris Roper
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44562),

Very interesting, although I do not own M '44 yet, my local game store has made the decision not to stock the most tealked about game on the geek at the moment, I am a tactical groggy. I'm sure I'll experiment and implement various mods in certain situations.

One may order a set of 14 Star Wars Queen's Gambit dice from SV games for about $3.00 +s&h. These dice are the same as the dice with Battle Cry with recessed centers for stickers. You get eight black dice and 6 white + 2 standard d6s. Design your new stickers in your favorite graphics arts program and print your stickers onto label stock.

John
 
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44562),

As a sidebar, the first Borg design I ever played was The Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel. That game used special dice also. The black dice had hit icons on 4 sides, the red on 3 sides and the white on just 2 sides. Different unit types rolled quantities and different combinations of colors. Character/Unit reference cards explained who rolled what and when.

My personal experience with some other games and non-wargamers is...the instant one puts a Combat Results Matrix, no matter how simple, in front of a non-wargamer, complexity panic sets in. True?
 
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Chris Roper
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
scribidinus (#44578),

Yes, very true.
I guess the target audience would be the old ASL players among us rather than the board gamer.

A simpler implementation of this could use the existing dice but count the star as a hit thus we get,

Artillery Die:

Infantry = 80% (S G I I)
Armor = 50% (S G A)
Artillery = 33% (S G)
Retreat = 16% (F)

Antitank Die:

Infantry = 50% (G I I)
Armor = 50% (S G A)
Artillery = 16% (G)
Retreat = 16% (F)

Support Die:

Infantry = 50% (G I I)
Armor = 33% (G A)
Artillery = 16% (G)
Retreat = 33% (S F)

This version may be more tempting to the board gamers but is a lot less flexible than using separate dice. I think I will give it a go all the same.
 
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Eric Hautemont
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44583),
Funny you should mention this as we very briefly contemplated using some special dice (in addition to the regular ones) in the early stages of the game design. This is one of the things we abandonned in the basic box, as part of our focus on having the simplest, cleanest possible set of rules that would still be fun to play why being enjoyable by the greatest number. So this (and other ideas) might still surface in the future, as special dice are a remarkably clean way to implement CLTs indeed
Eric @ DoW
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44583),

I have a simple chart of calculations that shows the probabilties of scoring at least one hit and/or retreat based on the number of BC/ M '44 dice rolled and the number of icons that apply hits and/or retreats. It is currently in MS Publisher but I'll retype it.

It is simple and somebody else has probably already done it but find the row with the number of dice (up to 5) cross reference with the number of applicable symbols and it gives you a probability rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.
 
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Chris Roper
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
scribidinus (#44593),

Hi John,

That could be a useful tool when considering tweaks. I was thinking of doing something similar but my math skills are a bit rusty.

If you can post a copy it would be appreciated.

Cheers
Chris
 
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John Desadier
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44603),


Well thought out and written. I also have been playing around with using special dice for some added units. I got the idea from a few other games that used different colored dice for heavy weapons etc.. (space crusade, and Mutant Chronicles I believe.

I picked up different colored dice in a blow out from KB toys (inside the Ninja mutant turtles game) I found red, yellow, black and white dice with recessed blank sides. I printed out my custom stickers and now have special dice to use.

I also discovered a blowout board game Mission Command, comes with a set of black and white dice with recessed blank sides also. It also has two sets of green and tan tanks that are of similar size as the ones that come in M44, along with artillery, two helicopters, and two rocket launchers.
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Re:Special dice = SWAT
caroper (#44603),

"If you can post a copy it would be appreciated."


Will be up on the Battle Cry and M '44 goes very soon. I used it to justify my BC killing power tweaks but it seems the new M'44 rules fixed some the basic issues anyway.

Ok, coming soon to a geek oage near you. Best Guess Probability Tables

 
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