Richard Pardoe
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Karl Laskas wrote:
SNIPER VARIANT

If a Sniper Trigger occurs as a result of direct fire, do not roll a random hex. Instead the triggering unit (the lead attacking unit or the defending unit) immediately may Suppress one opposing unit in its line of sight (including a unit in the current fire attack).

Curious how you handle broken weapons (repair / eliminate) with this variant? Ignore it until such time that a random hex is drawn? Or use the targeted hex as the random hex?

And since you list the "defending" unit as a triggering unit, I assume you also use this variant when making a fire defense roll after an attack. If so, seems like the the number of Random Hex draws per game would be severally reduced which would affect broken weapons indirectly. Or have you not found that to be the case?
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Karl Laskas wrote:

PANIC VARIANT (FROM C3I 21)

I was originally very keen on the Panic rule from C3i, and was considering using it, until I had a game where I was playing as the Italians (who have four cower events and and a 1:6 leader:squad ratio. I had a leader eliminated by enemy fire, and drew two cower events in quick succession. If I had been playing with that optional rule it would have left half my force broken, at very low morale, and subject to an opponent's Rout order near my own board edge.

I think that's too big of a swing, even if it's unlikely to happen, for a simple event. If you're okay with something like that (however improbable) happening that's fine, but it's something to be aware of in any version of the panic variant. The Russians would also be rather susceptible to this.


Karl Laskas wrote:
WHAT THESE VARIANTS DO

First, it makes a change in the game's combat model. In war, rifle fire often is not specifically aimed at a particular enemy. Instead, one fires at a location to suppress, distract, and pin down enemy solders. Suppressing a position so that another part of your force can act is a big part of military doctrine. This variant recognizes that, taking a page from recent games like FIGHTING FORMATIONS and BAND OF BROTHERS.
I'm curious about what you've seen in Combat Commander that makes you think this doesn't happen in this game, especially since a common complaint is that the combat isn't lethal enough. You're much, much more likely to suppress or break a unit from a single Fire order than to kill it outright. Both suppression and breaking reduce a units range, firepower, and movement, as well as making them unable to fire weapons. In the case of broken leaders they are also unable to order entire formations. That seems like distracting, suppressing and pinning down and I'm wondering what part of that doesn't work for you.

Karl Laskas wrote:
Second, it makes the game's Chaos a little less "flat". Combat Commander is a game about chaos, and I don't want to change that. But the game treats most of its events as fully random. I prefer to see those random incidents like sniper activity and friendly fire as arising from a battlefield's current "hot spots". It helps the game narrative.
I know the flat chaos model argument is pretty popular (and I fundamentally disagree with it but I won't bore everyone with that again) but keep in mind that in CC the maps represent an area that's pretty small even in comparison to other tactical games. While I can't find a scale reference for Band of Brothers, the hex areas are tiny compared to Fighting Formations (as they should be since thy're obviously different scales) and considerably smaller than ASL. The game is designed such that you're getting a slice of a larger battle and some of the "fully random" events represent stuff that's not flowing out of the action you're playing through, but the action that's playing out just off the board.

Of course if you don't like that particular feature of CC that's fine but it does actually represent something, i.e. actual chaotic events that have nothing to do with what you're doing.

Karl Laskas wrote:
SNIPER VARIANT

If a Sniper Trigger occurs as a result of direct fire, do not roll a random hex. Instead the triggering unit (the lead attacking unit or the defending unit) immediately may Suppress one opposing unit in its line of sight (including a unit in the current fire attack). If an attacking unit suppresses a defender, its morale (and thus its defense total) would be reduced accordingly. If a defender suppresses an attacker, however, the suppressive effect would not affect the current attack.

This is interesting. Are you worried that placing the suppression marker in the target hex will make the fire more lethal? Because that would seem to run counter to your intention of encouraging suppressing fire. On the attacking side it will almost always be more beneficial to put the suppression marker on the hex you are firing at, especially if you are firing on a leader or machine gun. Suppressing might be great but killing a leader is more powerful than putting a suppression marker on a nearby unit, even using your variant, and a HMG that's gone for good is better than one that's suppressed. Just that -1 morale can be a big deal in a fire attack.
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Karl Laskas
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RPardoe wrote:


Curious how you handle broken weapons (repair / eliminate) with this variant?


Great question, Richard. It showed me that I was missing some language in my rule. I rewrote it accordingly.

In short, you still roll a random hex if there are broken weapons.
 
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Karl Laskas
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alfonzo54 wrote:
Both suppression and breaking reduce a units range, firepower, and movement, as well as making them unable to fire weapons. In the case of broken leaders they are also unable to order entire formations. That seems like distracting, suppressing and pinning down and I'm wondering what part of that doesn't work for you.


Thanks for the question. The effects of suppression simply are not strong enough, and not frequent enough. Suppressive fire is an important part of doctrine, and suppression is more common than breaking a unit. In the published game, it is an anomaly. When it does occur, it creates a small negative modifier. That modifier especially is not significant when applied to elite units.

Suppressive fire in this variant can quell opportunity fire and may open up offensive options. It may be dramatic, although you don't know for sure until you try to move or fire with the suppressed unit.

alfonzo54 wrote:
The game is designed such that you're getting a slice of a larger battle and some of the "fully random" events represent stuff that's not flowing out of the action you're playing through, but the action that's playing out just off the board.


I am fine with the idea that there is activity off-map that may explain random events. However, those random events in the game are just as I likely to hit your rear areas as the hot areas. Friendly fire is just as likely at your local HQ as in a building you co-occupy with the enemy. That is why it's fair to say that the chaos is Flat.

This variant does not get rid of the chaos, which is a key design feature of the game. It just focuses it a little geographically.

alfonzo54 wrote:


This is interesting. Are you worried that placing the suppression marker in the target hex will make the fire more lethal?


Fire combat certainly does become more lethal, and I think that is a Good Thing.

The other thing the variant does is recognize the importance of "small" attacks in unhinging a position. It's now worth firing your half-squad at that high morale defender in the building, as you may actually do something worthwhile.

I really appreciate the thoughtful comments.
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Karl Laskas wrote:
When it does occur, it creates a small negative modifier. That modifier especially is not significant when applied to medium and heavier machine guns.


While I don't subscribe to the reasons for the need for these variants, let's do take facts into the discussion. A Suppression marker prohibits a unit with a weapon from using that weapon, so I'd say the result is quite significant. If you can suppress a German unit with an HMG or even an LMG, you've opened up plenty of offensive possibilities. If you've managed your hand well, you'll be ready to take advantage of the suppressed units.

It has been demonstrated over the several years the game has been out that modifying the "chaos" is not necessary when you learn to play well.

I like the suppression and morale checks in Band of Brothers but that uncertainty is already represented in CC by the cards and the sometimes frustrating lack of orders you need. And again, repeatedly in my own plays and the testimony of others, the player that keeps a cool head and deals with the curves he or she is thrown will most often prevail.

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Karl Laskas wrote:
When it does occur, it creates a small negative modifier. That modifier especially is not significant when applied to medium and heavier machine guns.
Just to be sure I'm understanding you here, you are aware that suppressing or breaking a unit makes them unable to fire a weapon, right? Because that's not a small modifier in my mind.

Karl Laskas wrote:
Suppressive fire in this variant can quell opportunity fire and may open up offensive options. It may be dramatic, although you don't know for sure until you try to move or fire with the suppressed unit.
Yes, it will certainly do that. I find that sometimes the -1 range from the supression means more than the -1 FP, especially since the suppression doesn't matter when a unit participates in a fire group. If you want to introduce more uncertainty than "is my opponent holding a fire card?" then this would do it.

Breaking does happen more often and seems to be the way CC models troop ineffectiveness more so than suppression. It's hard to kill a unit in one round of card play, and your opponent will often have a rally order handy, so I find it's more common to break an opponent, move up some squads, and then see them rally the next turn rather than what you're going for here.

Also, what is your procedure here? Do you roll before you declare a Fire order or after? What happens if you can't play the Fire order? Because if you have to show you are holding a Fire order, then you cannot play it because you failed the morale test, your opponent will know you are holding that card. Are you forced to discard it? Does it go back to your hand?

If you roll and you are not required to show the card if the roll fails, a savvy defender player could declare fire orders with suppressed units while they do not have a fire card in order to fish for Time triggers or simply run the deck down. These are things to consider in your wording of the rule.

edit: also the way fire groups interact with this rule should be spelled out.

Karl Laskas wrote:
I am fine with the idea that there is activity off-map that may explain random events. However, those random events in the game are just as I likely to hit your rear areas as the hot areas. Friendly fire is just as likely at your local HQ as in a building you co-occupy with the enemy. That is why it's fair to say that the chaos is Flat.

This variant does not get rid of the chaos, which is a key design feature of the game. It just focuses it a little geographically.
It seems that everyone who argues this has a desire to explain the events based on what's going on with the map, and I don't. I mean, snipers or blazes are going off behind you, doesn't that mean that you're just making better forward progress than your comrades to the left or right of you, or any number of other explanations?

I'm not saying this as a criticism, just an observation. I really enjoy the level of abstraction that the die triggers use since it allows me to fill in the gaps with my own narrative if I so choose. A friend and I often joke about troops being too casual with discarding cigarettes when blazes break out.

Karl Laskas wrote:
Fire combat certainly does become more lethal, and I think that is a Good Thing.

The other thing the variant does is recognize the importance of "small" attacks in unhinging a position. It's now worth firing your half-squad at that high morale defender in the building, as you may actually do something worthwhile.
I'm not sure that it would be effective enough in edge cases like that to make it worthwhile, or that having better odds of those types of attacks being effective would make CC a better game. Of course if it works for you that's great.

Another small thing that comes to mind is that nationalities have varying number of sniper triggers in their decks and, while that makes some more effective than others already, you may be doubling up (so to speak) on that effectiveness. Italy, for example, already has poor troop quality and five sniper triggers. Fighting against say, the Americans or British with their higher quality troops and their six sniper triggers may widen the gap and make the Italians even more difficult to handle. The situation is similar in France vs. Germany where the Germans have excellent troops and seven sniper triggers where the French have middling troops and only four sniper triggers. Just something to watch out for. Russia has eight triggers!

Karl Laskas wrote:
I really appreciate the thoughtful comments.
I really enjoy CC's rules and I'm always happy to discuss them. I hope your variants work out well for you.
 
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Karl Laskas
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Malacandra wrote:


It has been demonstrated over the several years the game has been out that modifying the "chaos" is not necessary when you learn to play well.

... [R]epeatedly in my own plays and the testimony of others, the player that keeps a cool head and deals with the curves he or she is thrown will most often prevail


Respectfully, I think you're missing the point.

I'm not adjusting the chaos to make the game easier to manage, or easier to win. I actually am quite good at this game and have a strong W/L record since acquiring it in 2008.

I'm modifying the game to better model doctrine, improve the narrative, and increase my fun.

Yes, there is subjectivity in that. If the game as published already pushes all your buttons, enjoy it as is.

Malacandra wrote:

I like the suppression and morale checks in Band of Brothers but that uncertainty is already represented in CC by the cards and the sometimes frustrating lack of orders you need.


We agree about BAND. But I don't buy that random card distribution is modeling the effects of suppressive fire. That random distribution occurs regardless of whether one's units are even in line of sight of an enemy.

Again, I am not trying to do away with chaos. I'm trying to focus it a little.
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Karl Laskas
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alfonzo54 wrote:
Just to be sure I'm understanding you here, you are aware that suppressing or breaking a unit makes them unable to fire a weapon, right? Because that's not a small modifier in my mind.


My apologies to you and Malacandra for the typo in my earlier reply. Corrected. Yes, I realize that suppression shuts down a gun. But suppression occurs much less frequently.
 
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Karl Laskas
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alfonzo54 wrote:


Also, what is your procedure here? Do you roll before you declare a Fire order or after? What happens if you can't play the Fire order?


Play the Fire order card, and then roll the morale check. If you fail the check, the card is wasted.

If the unit is part of a fire group, but not the lead unit, the fire group can still fire. However, it could create a gap in the chain and leave some units unable to fire.

alfonzo54 wrote:


It seems that everyone who argues this has a desire to explain the events based on what's going on with the map, and I don't. I mean, snipers or blazes are going off behind you, doesn't that mean that you're just making better forward progress than your comrades to the left or right of you, or any number of other explanations?

I'm not saying this as a criticism, just an observation. I really enjoy the level of abstraction that the die triggers use since it allows me to fill in the gaps with my own narrative if I so choose. A friend and I often joke about troops being too casual with discarding cigarettes when blazes break out.


You're right that there is always a story that one could tell. Perhaps Cthulhu rose from the deep and drove a squad insane.wow

But i find the narrative to be more credible if combat losses occur more commonly near the enemy and as a reflection of something that the players know about.

alfonzo54 wrote:


Another small thing that comes to mind is that nationalities have varying number of sniper triggers in their decks and, while that makes some more effective than others already, you may be doubling up (so to speak) on that effectiveness. Italy, for example, already has poor troop quality and five sniper triggers. Fighting against say, the Americans or British with their higher quality troops and their six sniper triggers may widen the gap and make the Italians even more difficult


Fair point. I confess that I have never played The Italians. I'll try them out.

 
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Karl Laskas wrote:


Respectfully, I think you're missing the point.


That is entirely possible and wouldn't be the first time.

Quote:

I'm modifying the game to better model doctrine, improve the narrative, and increase my fun.

Yes, there is subjectivity in that. If the game as published already pushes all your buttons, enjoy it as is.


Of course. Enjoy your variants.

Quote:

We agree about BAND. But I don't buy that random card distribution is modeling the effects of suppressive fire. That random distribution occurs regardless of whether one's units are even in line of sight of an enemy.

Again, I am not trying to do away with chaos. I'm trying to focus it a little.


Again, fair enough. I think it is helpful to remember that the design choices in this game were made for effect, rather than strict simulation. If you want to tweak up the simulation, have fun!

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