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Subject: Simultaneous Movement and Op Fire rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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After reading and commenting on Hunga Dunga's recent CoH thread a few good points were thrown up. The one that particularly caught my eye was that of Simultaneous Movement and firing.

Op Fire is neccesary due to the movement of both sides not being simultaneous.

Ever since PanzerBush syndrome we have been looking for a satisfactory way of utilising Opportunity Fire in our games. In Panzer Leader there was an optional rule for Opp Fire but only after the enemy had moved 1/4 of its turn (if I remember correctly). This comes out at 90 seconds of not being able to fire at the enemy, not good if you had already targeted him. Then we moved onto games which allow us to Op fire any time during the turn and allowing us to fire every time the enemy moved. So how many times during a turn can we use Op Fire, almost unlimited? When we use direct fire only once or twice during the same turn it seems unreal to allow Op fire to fire several times in one turn. CoH uses CAPs which goes someway to limiting the number of Op fire we can use but can lead to unreal situations when we run out of CAPs.

Op Fire is just one problem, It however does not overcome another problem that arises which is that a player does not move all of his units simultaneously either, so as Kuhrusty pointed out;
kuhrusty wrote:


Take two units moving down a road. In CoH, CC:E, and ASLSK, you move those units one at a time... which means that when the first unit is a ways down the road and gets hit by opportunity fire, the situation shown on the map--the original two units separated by the distance a unit can move in a turn--does not match the situation in the imaginary battle being simulated. "Are we to believe that the second unit sat and waited while the first unit marched down the road?" No! That's what the map shows, but no!

Furthermore--and even more wrong--the first player can now make decisions about what the second unit is going to do--decisions which should have been made at the start of the period of time covered by the turn or movement phase--using information gained by the first unit at the end of the period of time covered by the turn or movement phase. (So the effect is as if the second unit had sat there and waited while the first unit marched down the road... but that's not what any of these games are trying to simulate; it's just an unfortunate side effect of trying to make a playable game.)


One way of overcoming this problem is;
whatambush wrote:

Players A and B give every unit a chit with an order on it and after all chits have been placed they are turned over to reveal what each units orders are. Each units actions their order, (movement would always be 1 hex at a time) and the amount of time (either in minutes or as APs) is marked on a track. The unit with the least time after actions then gets to have another order and so on. The time track would only need to record the different times between the units and not the total time spent throughout the game. Some orders would be able to be cancelled to concentrate on something else, eg your unit has a fire on enemy unit A when enemy unit B moves out of cover towards your unit. This change in order would be dependant on leadership qualities and possibly other factors eg the attack came from behind while you were concentrating fire forwards etc.

As you can see a high unit count scenario would get severely bogged down but it is a different approach to the simultaneous attack problem.


A similar idea but relating to CoH has been made by Kuhrusty

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/348926/activation-varian...

You can look at this in 2 ways, either we have turns that are split into segments or we have very small turns where an action will often cover more than one turn.

A few questions;

Should turn length be dependant on how long it takes to fire rather than how long it takes to move a number of hexes?

Are there any games which overcome simultaneous movement satisfactorily? both enemy movement and friendly movement.

Have you ever played with house rules to overcome this problem?

Any other comments or ideas about simultaneous movement?







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One idea...calculate fire zones and firepower...whatever moves through it takes its chances on the CRT.


This is done in tactical games with indirect fire - everything passing through a hex in the blast zone takes 'fire'.

Why not do it with direct fire weapons - MG. Rifles, etc spewing out lead all the time.

Combine it with more intensive fire, as from designate MG firelanes.
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J.L. Robert
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One of my favorite wargames is John Hill's Jerusalem. In that game, combat is a function of movement.

When a unit moves into a ZOC, the defending player may fire, either a part of the moving stack or the entire stack. A defending stack may combine units into a single fire attack, or have each defending unit attack separately.

Once the defensive fire is completed, the surviving attackers then perform the same function. Fire, either individually, a group, or an entire stack, targetting a single unit, a group, or an entire stack.

IF the attacking player's combat roll results in a defender's unit loss, the attacker has the option of repeating the combat procedure until one side or the other has all of their pieces wiped out, or to end combat. If combat is ended and enemy units are still adjacent, then that unit/stack's movement for the turn is done. If the attacking player's unit/stack is no longer adjacent to enemy pieces, that unit may CONTINUE MOVING, and may engage in yet further battles.

The CRT has 2 results...Target Eliminated or No Effect.

This system was later developed into Hill's Battle for Stalingrad.

Both games are operational-level, dealing with batallions and regiments and 1-2 week turns.


Now, as for simultaneous movement and combat on both sides, that's probably best left for skirmish-level games and computer simulations.
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Justus Pendleton
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whatambush wrote:
Are there any games which overcome simultaneous movement satisfactorily? both enemy movement and friendly movement.


Real Time Strategy computer games. Seriously, there's a reason very few computer games do anything turn based today and this is why. It leads to way, way, way too many gamey situations that are simply totally unnecessary when you have a computer able to handle the bookkeeping for you.

I think there is a lot of scope for "computer boardgames". Something of the level of complexity-finish as the average flash-web game (instead of triple-A XBox/PlayStation titles) but above what (most) VASSAL modules give you.

I know a lot of people think Face To Face is supreme but I'm not in that camp.
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Hunga Dunga
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whatambush wrote:
Are there any games which overcome simultaneous movement satisfactorily? both enemy movement and friendly movement.

SPI published a few games with a simultaneous movement mechanic, where each player plots where they're going to move and what they're going to do, then the players reveal and move/fire their pieces.
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Hungadunga wrote:

SPI published a few games with a simultaneous movement mechanic, where each player plots where they're going to move and what they're going to do, then the players reveal and move/fire their pieces.


While I am a fan of this mechanic I think it brings its own problems: often you get two enemies semi-blindly stumbling around each other even when both have a clear view of the other where normally the actions of the other would influence one´s own actions directly.

I know at least one of the more popular WW1 air combat games deals with this problem with a "tailing" mechanic (forgot which one).

Are there other games that address this or do others not see this as a problem?
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Realism (even Hollywood realism) and playability often go against each other in non-digital tactical wargames. Make the smallest unit of time 5 seconds, and you find yourself with games that take forever by default, as the number of actions and decisions increases. Make each period longer, say about a minute, and you start getting into either very gamey behavior, like the one described in the OP, or simultaneous programmed movement, which can feel like work when dealing with more than 5 units per side.

The solution is the digital realm, where a computer can be calculating results in very small time periods, while the players make decisions at a larger timescale. It's just unfortunate that making such games is quite unprofitable, so we only see them once in a while.

If we are limited to paper, we just can't have our cake and eat it too.
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Mike Kreuzer
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hoostus wrote:
whatambush wrote:
Are there any games which overcome simultaneous movement satisfactorily? both enemy movement and friendly movement.


Real Time Strategy computer games. Seriously ...


Yep - this is one thing that just hasn't ever been done well using cardboard.

Regards, Mike
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oldsin wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:

SPI published a few games with a simultaneous movement mechanic, where each player plots where they're going to move and what they're going to do, then the players reveal and move/fire their pieces.


While I am a fan of this mechanic I think it brings its own problems: often you get two enemies semi-blindly stumbling around each other even when both have a clear view of the other where normally the actions of the other would influence one´s own actions directly.


I think pulsed movement is the best option for simulating
real time simultaneous movement.

Quote:
I know at least one of the more popular WW1 air combat games deals with this problem with a "tailing" mechanic (forgot which one).


IIRC, Wings.

Knights of the Air also has a solution, but I'm not convinced it works.

Quote:

Are there other games that address this or do others not see this as a problem?


Pulsed movement has been used in vehicular minis (as well as things
like Car Wars and Star Fleet Battles for a long
time. I never understood why it didn't catch on in the small
scale board wargames.
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There was (and still is ) a variant for PanzerBlitz that broke the turn down into 16 impulses. The number 16 was chosen because that happened to be the highest movement factor for any unit in the game - a German armoured car.

There was a table - with movement rates down one side, and the impulse number along the top. The armoured car unit was able to spend one movement factor in every impulse. A unit with a movement factor of 8 would get one movement factor every other impulse. A unit with a movement factor of 4 would get a movement factor to spend in impulses 1,5,9 and 13 - if I remember correctly. Certain impulses were designated fire impulses, so a unit able to fire could fire in those (or that) impulse(s).

The game pretty much stayed the same, players alternating turns, but each 'turn' was really a phase. So you might be able to move all, some or none of your units - depending on the phase of the turn.

What this whole variant was supposed to fix was the 'Panzerbush' problem... that a fast unit could more or less dash from one woods hex to another woods hex - in full view of the enemy during the whole move - and never be subject to any fire.

The variant worked - but it slowed the game to a relative crawl. A 10 turn game was suddenly more like 60 to 100 turns - and each 'mini-turn' took almost as long as a normal turn...

We played the variant more than once - but ended up giving up on it. The return on investment just wasn't there.
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Lee Kennedy
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An interesting question. I don't feel I've ever seen movement/op fire handled in a way that didn't feel at least somewhat gamey. THe Human Wave in ASL is somewhat close. You have to select all the units that will charge as part of the wave. Then you move all of them 1 hex. Your opponent can decide to fire or not. Then you move all of them a second hex. Etc.

Contrast this with the normal rules where you can either move a stack of 3 units all together (which is usually a bad idea as they can all be shot by Op Fire at once) or move the first unit its full movement, then the second, then the third. (Your opponent can only shoot the currently moving unit). So a stack can move say 6 hexes together, or a unit can move 6 hexes and then sit around while 12 other hexes of movement occur sequentially.

whatambush wrote:
Op Fire is neccesary due to the movement of both sides not being simultaneous.

I think of Op Fire as any mechanism that allows fire in direct response to the opponents movement (or partial movement). This would be necessary even in simultaneous movement games. In simultaneous plotted movement games you need a way to interrupt your planned movement and take the opportunity to blast that guy who just walked around the corner.

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hoostus wrote:
whatambush wrote:
Are there any games which overcome simultaneous movement satisfactorily? both enemy movement and friendly movement.


Real Time Strategy computer games. Seriously, there's a reason very few computer games do anything turn based today and this is why. It leads to way, way, way too many gamey situations that are simply totally unnecessary when you have a computer able to handle the bookkeeping for you.

I think there is a lot of scope for "computer boardgames". Something of the level of complexity-finish as the average flash-web game (instead of triple-A XBox/PlayStation titles) but above what (most) VASSAL modules give you.

I know a lot of people think Face To Face is supreme but I'm not in that camp.


EXACTLY. WEGO boardgames - straight ports to the computer, but modified to play WEGO instead of IGO-UGO. I would LOVE to see more of this.
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The BAR system in Clash of Arms Games allows opportunity fire any time a unit makes any move within firing range of an infantry unit, or allows an opportunity charge by a cavalry unit. Hence, this creates the realistic outcome, for linear warfare, of a unit tending to form into firing line and then marching into range, so it only takes opportunity fire once, then the other side's fire, before it can fire. This produces the satisfactory result of two lines of units firing at each other.

However, that is for linear warfare. Enter into the era of repeating weapons, and then radios, and we no longer want to end up with units standing off at a reasonable firing range, not even usually standing in an open field at all. So if squads and fire teams are supposed to be darting from cover to cover, throwing out smoke or moving by darkness, it is problematic they can be spotted on the board. ASL of course allows nonmoving units to hide, and heavier squad weapons get residual fire effects in hexes fired through, rewarding players for setting up good interlocking fields of fire and such. But this becomes more problematic on the move, since dashing into some convenient bushes or a shed, taking a look around, then deciding whether to unlimber the machine guns is a complex calculation as to whether the unit leader would decide to do so then or not. Hence, firing penalties after moving...

Ultimately, though, numbers do matter, and so I am not so sure it is a problem if a few lead units draw off the fire, leading to others moving through unscathed. It might happen this way, or maybe what 'really' happened was some men from each direction survived. But the tactical principle of attacking from several directions to divide fire has been rewarded. This situation is completely different from the CoH or CC systems, where a unit uninvolved in the local engagement is somehow draining away the ability of that machine gun team sitting in that building at the end of the road to fire. Perhaps there is some effect modeled of the command element having their attention diverted to other tactical areas, but really, those machine gunners already have their orders, they should not be affected. They already have the dice rolls to see whether they were awake or not!

The main problem I have with the way most people seem to play ASL is they break the rules! It is specfically forbidden to calculate fire odds or to take much time making tactical decisions, yet so often you see people laboriously calculating and recalculating which units to fire where, for that extra pip on the dice...I myself am a fairly deliberate player, but deliberate is distinct from this behaviour. I am certainly not an ASL expert, I only can play with groups where someone knows the rules and I just handle the tactics. But played by people who are trying to act as though the situation on the map is a tactical situation, and not a strategic planning session, the system seems to me to work quite well.
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kazadvorn wrote:


The variant worked - but it slowed the game to a relative crawl. A 10 turn game was suddenly more like 60 to 100 turns - and each 'mini-turn' took almost as long as a normal turn...

We played the variant more than once - but ended up giving up on it. The return on investment just wasn't there.


Haven't tried that particular variant,
but that's the lines I was thinking along.
I can't see it being that big a problem with
most panzerblitz scenarios - so long as people don't
think too much. With SFB, 15 ships to a side, and a
32 impulse chart, it didn't feel horrible. It's not
like there are all that many decisions in panzerblitz.
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kazadvorn wrote:
There was (and still is ) a variant for PanzerBlitz that broke the turn down into 16 impulses. The number 16 was chosen because that happened to be the highest movement factor for any unit in the game - a German armoured car.

There was a table - with movement rates down one side, and the impulse number along the top. The armoured car unit was able to spend one movement factor in every impulse. A unit with a movement factor of 8 would get one movement factor every other impulse. A unit with a movement factor of 4 would get a movement factor to spend in impulses 1,5,9 and 13 - if I remember correctly. Certain impulses were designated fire impulses, so a unit able to fire could fire in those (or that) impulse(s).

The game pretty much stayed the same, players alternating turns, but each 'turn' was really a phase. So you might be able to move all, some or none of your units - depending on the phase of the turn.

What this whole variant was supposed to fix was the 'Panzerbush' problem... that a fast unit could more or less dash from one woods hex to another woods hex - in full view of the enemy during the whole move - and never be subject to any fire.

The variant worked - but it slowed the game to a relative crawl. A 10 turn game was suddenly more like 60 to 100 turns - and each 'mini-turn' took almost as long as a normal turn...

We played the variant more than once - but ended up giving up on it. The return on investment just wasn't there.


Your last sentence is the key. All wargames are abstractions, and the only question is how abstract is any given game. There is a sliding scale of realism versus playability, where the lower the realism level goes (or, put another way, the higher the abstraction level goes), the higher the playability level goes, and visa versa. I'm willing to live with a certain level of abstraction as regards op fire in tactical games in order to have a game that is playable in what I consider a reasonable amount of time/number of turns. Taking Panzerblitz as an example, all I did was port over the Panzer Leader Op Fire rules to PB and that was plenty good enough for me. Is this rule set still an abstraction and therefore somewhat "gamey"? Sure, but I'm not willing to pay the price in terms of complexity, time, or record keeping to get to a more "realistic" op fire rule. I'm also not keen on computer gaming (I was in the 90's, but that's before I rediscovered the joy of real face-to-face board wargaming), so that's not a solution. I am perfectly happy accepting some abstractions so long as the game is engaging.
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I liked the solution used in Panzer Miniatures ( http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13240/panzer-miniatures ) - while the turn is IGO-UGO divided into phases (fire-move-close combat) it has preplotting orders: both players, at the start of the turn, give face down order-counters next to unit models and reveal them during the turn (when the order should be executed). Orders are simple "fire", "move", "assault move" (='move and fire' impulse), "opportunity fire", "special" and "N/C". "N/C" means nothing, but adds bonus on morale-recovery rolls.

I took this rule from Panzer Mini and I use it in Schwere Kompanie. SK plays like many other "impulse" games (like LnL or Panzergrenadier), but I house-ruled the start of the turn, where both players secretly give orders to units in similar manner as in Panzer Mini (I use counters from Panzer Mini for that, but I do not use OppFire counter - Fire counter means both actions Fire and OppFire).

It is not ideal, but it leads to very interesting effects - in unrestricted impulse game, a passive player (defender) can wait for opponent and than react as he wishes, but when he preplotted "Fire", you cannot move a vice versa. You must plan what you do, because you cannot freely react on previous impulses of your opponent or on results of die rolls (very often in impulse games the player looks how the fire results and after than decides if he fires with another unit or if he moves...).

Preplotting orders + impulses = best simultaneous effect I have experienced.
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It's fine for a miniatures games, but when you have to plot the actions for 10, 20, 50 units at a time it soon becomes tedious.Actually, the orders counter idea is also used in Firepower and in MBT (first edition)

Another option is to allow multiple op fires by the same unit. Thus, just because a unit is following another doesn't make it immune if the lead unit is fired on.

Of course, a following unit would be hanging back anyway, and if the lead unit came under fire it would react appropriately.

Some larger scale games use breakthrough markers for when a unit has been in combat, such that any units following up through the same or adjacent hex must pay a move penalty, representing the delay caused in clearing the area, even if they are not directly involved.

You could use something similar at a tactical level, so that your following units pay a move penalty or take op fire if they move next to a unit which has already been fired at.
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Let me just comment on the ASLSK situation with the two units running down the road: Of course you can move them as one stack, but the downside is that they both get hit by the same DR on the IFT.
If you move them seperately, the second one still gets hit by the Residual firepower left in the hex, which is half the firepower of the original attack. I always thought of that as simulating two squads running down the street on two sides.
And to be honest: That was most likely the plan from the beginning, even though it looks different on the map.

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nyhotep wrote:


Another option is to allow multiple op fires by the same unit. Thus, just because a unit is following another doesn't make it immune if the lead unit is fired on.

As in the Tactical Combat Series by the Gamers.
Leads to many dierolls, but a cool system nonetheless.

nyhotep wrote:

You could use something similar at a tactical level, so that your following units pay a move penalty or take op fire if they move next to a unit which has already been fired at.

As in ASL, as I pointed out.
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calandale wrote:
kazadvorn wrote:


The variant worked - but it slowed the game to a relative crawl. A 10 turn game was suddenly more like 60 to 100 turns - and each 'mini-turn' took almost as long as a normal turn...

We played the variant more than once - but ended up giving up on it. The return on investment just wasn't there.


Haven't tried that particular variant,
but that's the lines I was thinking along.
I can't see it being that big a problem with
most panzerblitz scenarios - so long as people don't
think too much. With SFB, 15 ships to a side, and a
32 impulse chart, it didn't feel horrible. It's not
like there are all that many decisions in panzerblitz.


We took this basic concept and modified it a little... rather than have 16 impulses, we took it down to 4. Fire took place between movement impulses 1&2 and 3&4. I think infantry moved in impulses 1 and 3. This speeded up infantry alot, but the effect could be looked at as slowing down vehicles relative to infanty. Another of the big problems with Panzerblitz was that movement rates were based (sort of) on maximum rated speeds...which tended to exaggerate the speed at which vehicles could move in combat.

A vehicle, like the MkIV, with a speed of 8 would have two movement points to spend in each impulse. In theory, every unit could fire twice during a turn - once in each 'inter-impulse fire phase' (wow, I used to work for the government - can you tell ). If you moved in impulse 1, you couldn't fire in that half of the turn. If you fired in fire-phase 1, there could be no movement in either impluse 1 or 2.

If you didn't have enough movement points to enter a hex - you placed the unit between the starting hex and the target hex spending movement points until it could enter the target hex... it was considered in the least favorable hex for purposes of receiving fire.

We found that this system worked best with smaller unit count scenarios. We needed to make little plastic markers to indicate which units had moved in order to remember if they could fire... just too many arguments otherwise.

Oh... I forgot to mention - everyone could fire during the fire phases. So a tank or vehicle would move out of the woods in impulse 1, and could recieve defensive fire during fire phase 1. In practice, you tended to do covering fire in the first half of the turn - trying to disrupt any units that could hit units that planned to move - then move in impulses 3 and 4.

If you add the 'spotting' variant - where you rolled to spot units even in covering terrain - based on unit type and range - then you start to get a pretty decent game that has a little more illusion of realism than the original.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Your last sentence is the key. All wargames are abstractions, and the only question is how abstract is any given game. There is a sliding scale of realism versus playability, where the lower the realism level goes (or, put another way, the higher the abstraction level goes), the higher the playability level goes, and visa versa.

An interesting point but actually, I disagree with this as I think that equating realism with detail is wrong. If a game is abstract, then the mechanisms have to work at that level of abstraction. More detail just adds more detail but does not necessarily increase accuracy.

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing particularly gamey about a solution that has units engaging in "planned fire" vs opportunity fire in a tactical game, as long as the number of targets they can engage that way corresponds to historical capability. Certainly in most tactical games I know, the turn length is not identical to the length of time a tank needs to fire its gun; combat resolution is assumed to involve multiple shots (hits and misses). The important aspect is that the turn length has to be chosen so that at the unit level involved (platoons or whatever) a meaningful decision could be made to engage in that sort of activity for so-and-so long. Most platoon level tactical games assume that this is on the order of a few minutes. If a counter represents multiple tanks, opportunity fire is not a function of having started to move an "impulse" (a few seconds later) than the other side; it's a function of having decided to wait and see what's coming down the road. Unless you are playing an individual tank game (which Panzerblitz absolutely isn't), putting the impulses at that level without keeping in mind the time needed to control the formations that represent a counter (or in fact multiple counters moving togethers) is no better than having the relatively abstract opportunity fire mechanic.

It's important to note that Panzerblitz wasn't the pinnacle of tactical tank game development; it was the pioneer, the start. (Which is why it had so many foibles; it broke new ground.) There have been many systems produced later and in general, designers and players there seem to have been perfectly happy with the opportunity fire mechanic.

As for the claims that computer games are the solution for how to represent a particular problem in a boardgame, that's not a solution; it's a wimpout, and I don't understand why people keep bringing them up on a boardgame site. Computer games have their own strengths and foibles; I have not found them to be solutions for the reasons that I play boardgames for.
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oldsin wrote:

I know at least one of the more popular WW1 air combat games deals with this problem with a "tailing" mechanic (forgot which one).


calandale wrote:

Knights of the Air also has a solution, but I'm not convinced it works.


Also, American Aces (Aces High) addresses this somewhat by allowing experienced pilots to make an additional move after the regular simultaneous, pre-plotted move.
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I have always thought that a track of actions, planned out in intervals, was the best way to handle command and control of units. I am not exactly a wargaming buff, but I havent seen this applied to wargames that much.

Something like this: Each unit has a card associated with it. Each player has an order grid that they plan out completely before executing. It might be like this


Turn 1 2 3 4
Action
Attack X X X X
Defend X X X X
Move X X X X


Each of the 'X's is a spot where you could place a unit card. You could even give certain units more than one card (like giving armor 2 cards, but at least one has to be placed on a Move space, or an MG nest 2 cards, but at least one has to be on a defend space). Then you could resolve turns fairly simultaneously, as there could be specific rules sets for instances (like if My MG played a Defend card, and a unit that he can see played a move card, the MG has to fire on it ).

This would address what I think the main problem with Op fire in games like ASLSK and CoH: Perfect Information and Perfect control. The problem ISNT that it is unrealistic that an MG waits for a 'gamey' moment before firing, I feel that the fact the the player controlling the MG can SEE the perfect moment every time, and has a good amount of control as to executing the 'Right' move.
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M St
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whatambush wrote:
Op Fire is neccesary due to the movement of both sides not being simultaneous.

On the contrary, for op fire it is (at least in WWII) necessary that one side does not move. Or it's not going to fire any op fire. So, actually, it is not a game mechanism born from the non-simultaneity of the game, but it is a mechanism that correctly represents a situation where simultaneous movement does not take place.

Quote:
Should turn length be dependant on how long it takes to fire rather than how long it takes to move a number of hexes?

I'm pretty sure that turn lengths in tactical games are generally not chosen so you can move a particular number of hexes; instead movement rates result from the turn length (which is chosen based on the time needed to take and implement meaningful actions (*)) and the map scale.








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castiglione
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Op fire is basically a zone of control mechanism applied to tactical games.

Gary Graber carried this concept to its ultimate conclusion by introducing "hesitation rules" to his tactical combat rules set Retro by fully embracing this zone of control mechanism.

The concept of hesitation kind of breaks down a bit when you start applying them to vehicles, however.
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