Home Forums Modern Soldier Load in Wargames Reply To: Soldier Load in Wargames

John D Salt

Anyway, the point of all this is that I have been fiddling around with a very simple toy-soldier game design for modern combat, platoon and below. For ultramodern western infantry versus irregulars, I was wondering if a simple reduction in the movement rate but a saving roll for the armour would be a workable trade off, and more importantly, encourage both sides to fight the way they actually do. The western troops would get more-and-more special abilities for having the extra armour (a saving throw), radios (a less random activation system), ammo (better hit and/or suppression chance) and ECM (obvious), but at a cost to movement rate.

Similarly, western troops in WW2 carrying too much stuff would be punished by a slower movement rate.

Then, to be really controversial, the same penalty would apply to a simple morale test when attacking.

Ooooh, interesting. I hope you’ve taken a peek at Phil Barker’s draft “Sharp End”, and the dear old 1925-75 Infantry Action rules from the WRG?

Part of the current problem of overloaded infantry is, I think, an aspect of what I call technolatry (the worship of technology) — rather than train people better, give them a gadget — “stupid people and clever systems”. I am always sceptical of the magical effects claimed for what Dave Hackworth called “Buck Rogers wonder-junk”, and, as I said in expressing a preference for “Combat Hunter” over giving everyone a Vallon, expertise doesn’t weigh anything. What has this got to do with wargames rules? It seems to me that a good (using my Philistine definition of “good”, that is, “I like them”) set of wargames rules for binome/trinome/fireteam/squad/section/multiple/platoon level combat would be able to deal with the period 1902 to 2022 without too many special-to-period rules. OK, there are a few minor inventions along the way, like tanks, radios, the atom bomb, helicopter gunships, the Zippo lighter, and one-calorie soft drinks, but the basic killing technology works on much the same lines, and “The Defence of Duffer’s Drift” has lessons that apply throughout. A set concentrating on just the dusty places we have had or wars in this century might, I worry, miss some essential human factors.

I have for a couple of years now thought that it ought to be possible, by means of different-coloured poker chips or otherwise, to produce a section attack level wargame that works, essentially, as a resource-management game. The resources, as I imagine it, would be that you have a limited quantity of blokes, time, ammunition, and nervous energy (“morale”, “bottle”, “cran”, finding a good name is tricky, but the combo of physical and mental endurance). The trick is to complete your tactical task successfully without runniing out of any one of them, so the game should show how it is possible to trade between them. Must design that game one day.

The discussion with Just Jack has triggered a couple of additional ideas for the “pluck-bucket” mechanism in “A Footslogger Situation”. One is, as mentioned, having stress cause crackups when the pressure comes off, rather than when it is applied. The other deals with what the British Army tends to call “cognitive load”, and pursues the link made in “Donkeys led by Lions” between phyical and mental overloading. Using a PIP-based system as in my “Churchill Troop Commander”, where PIPs can be used for tasks or for laying search chits on the map (why do so few infantry rules worry about people watching their arcs?), one can reduce the PIP allowance as fatigue accumulates — people do things slower, including cognitive tasks like giving orders, and they become less good at perceiving their surroundings too. In extreme cases this might mean having no perception of the surroundings except the target you are trying to shoot — tunnel vision is a known stress reaction.

To answer an earlier question posed by Whirlwind, no, I don;t think I have recently posted anything on the mix of platoon weapons, but you may rely on my having some pungent opinions of the matter.

Remind me, Whirlwind old chap, did I ever send you copies of my one-page rules, written at different times long ago, “Section Attack” and “Follow Me!”? Neither will really do as a complete game, but one is an attempt at showing the way I found section attacks worked in training, and the other is a stab at a “Brains and Bullets”-style four-F behavioural model, from decades before I read “Brains and Bullets”.

All the best,