Dammit, sorry fellas, I’m late to the party again.
First, I’m with Shelldrake regarding the skirmish definition: 1 is 1 (person and vehicle), and individual soldiers activate (NUTS!, 5MIN, Point Blank). Then we have platoon-level games like Chain of Command, Force on Force, Disposable Heroes, and NEIS, and company-level games like IABSM/CDS, Crossfire (though this could just as easily be a battalion-level game), FOW, and 5Core Company Command. And I’m with Ivan: conventional wisdom is too levels down (though you could just as easily play 5Core Company Command, keeping squads as elements, split each squad element into two teams that must stay within a certain distance of each other, give them. If a squad fires with 1K 1S, give the gun team 1K and the rifle team 1S, rifle team is +1 in CC, gun team is -1.).
“Of course, conventional wisdom is often wrong.”
No it’s not, that’s why it’s called conventional wisdom, i.e., the stuff that humans collectively know from thousands of years of experience on this earth, even if they don’t remember how they know it. What you’re referring to are myths that are taken up and treated as if everyone should know them and agree with them 😉
This is an important distinction to me in this topic, and here’s why. As Rod states, squads fought in teams, with just about every country involved in WWII have a doctrine and published tactics that were trained on how to fight a squad in two or more supporting teams. But there are folks that will tell you this didn’t actually happen (if you don’t believe me you can search TMP for the 8000-post long argument where I argued with several folks on this exact topic) because of some anecdotal evidence of what one man saw, or because someone wrote in a book that casualties were so high in certain campaigns that ‘x’ forces operated in squads because of a lack of leadership (and I’d submit, probably a lack of bodies too, meaning it’s one thing to talk about a squad of ten men broken into five-man teams, but if your squad is down to six men, well, that’s really just one team, not a unit refusing to use fire and maneuver on a doctrinal basis.
Panda – if you recall my “All Americans” campaign, I was using card-based activation in a very similar means to Bolt Action (which is probably where I got the idea). Early on I was doing what you were talking about: I was having each team take an activation test (based off Angel Barracks’ KR-16 rules). I think it works for what you’re trying to do, but it slowed things down too much for me, so ended up only having them test if they had taken fire (like the pins in Bolt Action).
“There’s two armoured vehicles aiming their cannons at each other at close range. Lets even say the US Sherman has a fairly green crew and the SS Tiger is commanded by Michael Wittmann. As in my game its the start of a new turn. First Command dice out means almost certain destruction to the opposition tank (well a very good chance at least) But the US regular tank has double the chance of reacting first because of the number of US units.”
See, to me scenario is way overblown, and I don’t mean because it doesn’t happen, it happens to me all the time. What I mean is, it didn’t happen in a vacuum: there was a tank sitting there, and another tank pops around the corner. First, if the sitting tank has activated, and you didn’t put him on ‘overwatch,’ then you as the player made the decision to engage with something else, thereby distracting your tank, or (in the case of, ‘my tank wasn’t just sitting there behind the corner, I just moved it there this turn’) then you as the player made a tactical error in placing them in a bad, exposed position (knowing an enemy tank could pop around the corner and light them up). We can argue about the fact each side maybe shouldn’t have known what was around the corner, to which my reply is: use a blinds system so that player’s don’t know who’s who until they’ve been spotted/fired.
So, you’re tank is sitting there, having just moved up behind the corner, or was already sitting at the corner and fired on something else, instead of sitting and going on overwatch to pop my tank as it came around the corner; that’s your bad. Now I roll my tank around the corner and fire on your tank, but miss. Now we’re down to pure luck to see who will fire first next turn, with one side (mine in this case) having a better chance because of more units, not because of crew quality. I get it, but I can live with it because we got to where we are based on our tactical decisions, and not the dice/luck. If my tank gets to shoot first, it gets to shoot first because yours was stuck traversing the turret whilst mine was already laid, or because they had to unload HE and reload with AP, or because my last round had shaken them up, etc… If your tank fires first, it’s because my crew freaked out and missed with their first round, then wet their pants, or because the loader got his hand stuck in the breach, or dropped the round, or because the gunner got some powder in his eye, or because the TC thought they’d actually hit and knocked out the enemy tank. I think it works.
Now, I will say I’ve taken some further steps along these lines, but mine was just to make things more violent. First, I am now playing this: if your tank fires on mine and has no effect (possible effects are 1. KO, 2. Immob and test for bail, 3. pin – can shoot but can’t move until rallied, and 4. fall back – can’t move or shoot until rallied; no effect is not rolling any of these results), my tank gets to return fire for ‘free.’ So, I’ve had sequences like this: my tank moves up into a field and fires at enemy infantry. An enemy tank rolls into LOS and fires at my tank, no effect. My tank returns fire (due to no effect), gets a pin on the the enemy tank (he can’t move, but can still shoot). That’s the end of the turn, now my tank activates and fires on the pinned enemy tank, no effect. The enemy tank returns fire, and KO’s my damn tank! Then he gets to activate and go after some more of my troops.
I’ve also been thinking about this, though I haven’t tried it yet: as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading Panzer Aces (finished the first one, about halfway through the third one, need to find the second one). Constantly they are talking about the need to keep moving, that if you sit still you die, and they seem to have proved that, even against T-34s dug in up to their turrets. So I’ve been messing with the idea of making it easier to hit stationary tanks, and harder to hit moving tanks, while not punishing the firing tank for moving (my reasoning being they weren’t firing on the move, they were making their firing halts). I’m thinking of giving the moving, firing tank 2K 1S, the stationary tank 1K. I can explain the loss of 1S by the stationary tank: he’s firing at a moving tank, and the moving tank is either going to get hit or keep going, not really worried about the rounds flying past that aren’t hitting him. I’m having a harder time explaining why the moving tank is more effective, so I’ll probably just leave his shot at 1K 1S (this is not including any modifiers for overgunned, etc…). This does not apply to ATGs and infantry anti-tank weapons, they will retain their shock dice regardless of whether the tank was moving or stationary. This is based on all the times I read about tanks being driven off by hidden infantry/ATGs, where the tanks just lost their nerve and fell back.
I still find myself confounded by these (and I mean it in terms of ‘if you have questions, please ask as I’d love to explain so as to hopefully allay your concerns; it’s purely selfish, as I’d like to see more people playing these rules so there are more folks to chat with them about):
“I am open to all suggestions but I like a game system which does not abstract too much from the mechanics of combat. Quick play and ease of play are not my greatest concerns but a sense of realism is.”
“I’m still a little confused about the the rolls for activation in “Five men” with 1’s and 6’s having special effects… I know Jack loves the effect but I still can’t get my head around the loss of control in situations that may or may not be pressured. I think I may need to reexamine the rules.”
First, let me say that I know everyone will not like a set of rules just because I like them, but I really like the rules because I think they are giving an accurate representation of what I understand combat to be/look like, WWII to present (yes, I will soon be using 5Core Company Command for modern gaming too). If there are things you think are unrealistic, please allow me (and Ivan I suppose, but I wouldn’t listen to him, he’s a commie) to try to explain. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the amount of close combat that occurs in my games, for which I have several answers:
1) I’m simulating the old adage regarding fire and maneuver of ‘pin’em and out’em (via close combat),’ which leads us to point number two:
2) ‘Close combat’ does not mean a bayonet charge, nor does it mean going at it with fisticuffs (though I may insinuate otherwise in my batreps, purely for dramatic reasons), it means getting close enough to eliminate the enemy with devastating firepower, where hand grenades and submachine guns are very effective. So, think of it as a squad getting to within 20 or 30 yards of the enemy and putting them out with close range fire.
3) If that still doesn’t fix my close combats for you, please realize it’s a function of how I play the game, rather than the rules. That is, I like quick, dramatic games which are decisive, so moving into close combat accomplishes that: either my guys are going to be heroes that whoop a bunch of ass, or they’re going to go down in heroic fashion. The rules do a good job of supporting this in my opinion, by having mechanics that work to pin and/or force back enemy units by fire, then finish those pinned/suppressed units via close combat, but you don’t have to go galavanting about; I simply choose to do that. As a side note, this is also a function of my playing on a small playing surface; if you play on a larger table the troops will have to cross more ground under more fire, meaning my playing style wouldn’t work, and you’d want to focus more on supporting arms (which is certainly realistic, but I personally don’t want to play a game, at least with KG Klink, though this will probably change with my modern USMC campaign; anyone know where I can get a 10mm/1:144 scale AH-1 Cobra?).
4) If you’re concerned with troops close assaulting tanks, I’d say 1) troops actually did this (or fell back) when confronted by tanks, it’s why things like Gammon Grenades and Hefthollagongs (or whatever the hell those things are called) and Molotov Cocktails and Tank Killer Badges were invented. I’ll also say that you will probably not see this in my modern games (though I did do it once, just for one, in one of my recent FFL games, didn’t I? But that was playing NEIS; see, it’s me, not the rules!), there will be plenty of anti-tank weapons, and even air support, around.
To Panda’s point, what is it I can help you with? I think Ivan gave an excellent description above, and I can say, to me it’s no different than playing a card activated game and adding a turn-end mechanism (whereas you don’t get to do everything you want). I have never felt like I was ‘cheated’ playing the 5Core activation mechanism, or that it was unrealistic. Hell, to me it’s made them more realistic. Look at my batrep #16; I’ve played a fair few sets of WWII and modern rules, and I’ve never seen anything like that happen. I’ve had some pretty good strings of rolls in BKC (both for and against me), and yes, it felt a bit cheesy, but I still never had anything happen like what happened in #16.
I’m rambling so you’re probably missing my point: we’ve all read about things in real life happening like in #16 (a force overwhelming a seemingly equal and prepared opponent, like the German FJ attack on Fort Eban Emauel, or various Israeli actions in ’56, ’67, or ’73, for instance), but we either have rules where it can’t happen, or they go the other way and it’s too easy to happen (this was one in sixteen).
Long story short, they do give swings, and I suppose either you can live with that or you can’t (no judgement there, simply stating different guys expect different things in their rules, we all have different ideas of what combat looks like/what we want it to look like on our tables), but to me it’s realistic (we’ve all read about the lull in the action that allowed ‘x’ to happen, or the furious firefight that broke out on the left flank, etc…), AND it aids gameplay. Again, for me, back to the idea of friction, not being able to do everything you want (within limits), and no matter how good or dire things look, you’re only one great activation roll (great being defined as what you think you need, i.e., I could really use a ‘scurry,’ or a ‘firefight,’ right here) from being right back in it. I like this, others may not, though to me that doesn’t make a lot of sense as all you’re rally saying is ‘my dominant force should easily crush that weak force,’ or vice versa, when, to me, anything is possible once the rounds start flying (and history backs this up).
In any case, I humbly apologize as I don’t think I’m answering Mr. Robertson’s question in a satisfactory manner, but I love talking about rules, so I beg your pardons and hope you can forgive me 😉
Oh, and quit screwing around (the both of you, Rod and Panda) and spring the $10 for Company Command, play it, then talk about what you don’t like and we can talk about how to modify it to give you exactly what you’re looking for 😉