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Just Jack

“Just the thought that the commander has to take a positive action to stop his troops firing and get them to do something else.  So with modern comms, that is an “anything but a ‘1’ test, but your Chinese militia squad in 1937 will just keep firing at whatever it is firing at until the target is destroyed, they get suppressed by someone else, or the platoon commander physically (or via his runner) gets them to stop.”
So the ‘engaged’ team has to roll over a 1 in order to activate normally?  That makes sense; even pre-modern, you still have a Signal Plan, so they don’t have intra-squad radios, but well-trained units are going to have hand signals and use things like flares and smoke to communicate.  Runners are always an interesting concept as well; I really like it, and it’s not hard to come up with rules for runners, but it will definitely slow the game down, and, to my mind, you have to have more abstraction in the game in order to account for small unit leaders acting (nor not acting) on their own initiative in the absence of current, or out of date, orders.

“I’m not thinking of getting rid of die rolls altogether so much as…”
This is where FUBAR and KR-16 have a cool activation mechanic where a unit has to roll a dice to see if it can act, with positive modifiers (you’re in cover, there’s no enemy in LOS, better training, carrying out an action that is not risky such as falling back) and negative modifiers (you’re in the open, enemy in sight, worse training, you’re carrying out a risky action such as moving into close combat).  But the kicker here is, the enemy fires on you and adds ‘pins,’ and each ‘pin’ adds a +1 to your target score, making it harder and harder to activate, AKA, get your men to do anything when they’re under fire.  As far as I recall, the enemy still has to roll dice to shoot, but if you’re really looking at going this way you could say something like ‘an enemy rifle team in LOS automatically adds +1, an LMG team +2, an GPMG +3,’ or something like that.

“It will emphasize the requirement for tactical reserves as long as, broadly speaking, then a commander expects his troops being fired on will be suppressed (and as dicusssed before, his troops firing will probably be stuck on task because he needs the enemy to be kept pinned and/or he physically needs to get the troops to stop firing).”
So take it out to ‘any units engaged will not move unless the on-table commander moves into base contact and breaks his foot off in their ass’?  That fits what we’re talking about, but is very restrictive.  I actually played some games like this before and, much to my chagrin, it wasn’t nearly as cool as I wanted because it turned out that the side with more forces was always winning, the side with less teams just couldn’t match up.  If you have ten units and I have 15, I move ten units up, you ‘suppress’ all of them, but then I have five units that can skate around do whatever they want (the assumption being that if you’re playing where it’s super easy to pin/suppress an element, you’re making it very difficult to actually destroy an element by fire).

“Wouldn’t it slow down play by a lot though?”
My experience with writing rules is that the hard part is deciding what to leave out, not what to add in, for this very reason.  Several times I’ve written the most accurate rules known to man; the only problem is that it takes 427 hours to play a company-sized engagement that lasted 45 minutes in real life 😉

“…since adding ‘more suppression’ would be largely pointless…”
You make a great point about economy of force, but I have two counters to that:
1st: there are many cases in real life where additional firepower shifted the defender out of that position, or not only stopped an attack, but forced the attacker to call off the assault.
2nd: I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, and everyone is free to design/play rules that match their own expectation of what combat at their desired scale should look like, but for me that means there is a progression from ‘good order’ to pinned (will fire but not move) to suppressed to falling back, and I tend to play ‘perspective-based’ games, meaning I’m trying to put myself into the shoes of the overall commander of all troops on the table, so I make decisions at that level, not at all the underlying levels (I’m a company commander, I don’t decide if the tank is firing HE or Sabot, the tank commander decides that), so that means I have to abstract things out to account for what lower-echelon leaders are doing (as opposed to what I want them to do).  There are a lot of different ways of doing this, but the point (in relation to this particular discussion) is that I typically handle fire results in the terms I described above because it reflects how a small unit leader under a particular level of fire would probably react, regardless of how I want him to act.

So look at it this way: I want him to keep moving and close assault that house, but he is:
-Receiving ineffective fire, so he keeps moving.
-Receiving somewhat effective fire, so he and his men halt and return fire.
-Receiving somewhat more effective fire, so he and his men are hitting the dirt and won’t do anything until he decides he can get them back in the fight.
-Receiving even more effective fire, to the point he and his men are hitting the dirt and won’t do anything until a senior leader comes over and convinces them to get back in the fight.
-Receiving such horrendous fire that he is going to grab his men and fall back to safety, and even then is worthless until senior leadership comes over and convinces them to get back in the fight.

So I don’t think I would ever be comfortable with rules that simply allot some sort of pin or suppression on a unit without a die roll, simply for moving into LOS of an enemy unit, because I need something to gauge the effectiveness of that enemy force’s fire.

A very interesting conversation, gentlemen!  I appreciate you taking the time to share your thought, and hope you continue to do so.  And don’t be thrown when I post the next batrep here, we can still keep talking rules here, if you like.