Home Forums WWII Opportunity Fire

Viewing 33 posts - 1 through 33 (of 33 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #138754
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    Having just spent a full week tweaking the forthcoming O Group WW2 rules covering opportunity fire, I just wondered what the general consensus was on opportunity fire in WW2 wargames generally?

    Is opportunity fire vital in order to represent WW2 combat or not really needed?

    Should it be easy to undertake, (bearing in mind you are acting in the opponents turn) or should it be more difficult?

    I’d be very grateful for your comments.

    Thanks.

    DB

     

     

    #138785
    Jemima FawrJemima Fawr
    Participant

    Absolutely.  Moving within the arc of fire of an unsuppressed enemy should be harshly punished.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #138788
    GrimheartGrimheart
    Participant

    I think some kind of op fire is needed, but ideally not over complicated.

    Units shouldn’t be able to waltz around in view and close range of unsuppressed enemy without risk.

    Also depends on how you manage ambush type situations how much it may be required. Ie if I have my atg sitting at a corner all ready and your tank comes round on your move, I still expect to get first shot!

    Interest include 6mm WW2, 6mm SciFi, 30mm Old West, DropFleet, Warlords Exterminate and others!

    #138792
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    For my money, Jemima Fawr and Grimheart have it right.

    I reckon that the principal limitation on aimed direct fire in the 20th century is the availability of targets. With rapid-firing weapons, and especially with automatics, it has become essentially meaningless to attempt to overwhelm a defence by what is known, in air defence circles, as saturation — presenting more targets than the defence has the capacity to engage. This is why, before the end of WW1, competent tacticians had worked out that concentration of force means concentration of fire, not concentration of troops; and is the reason for the 21AG proverb, “Don’t put everything in the shop window”.

    Given the extent to which people are capable of making themselves scarce on the “empty battlefield”, I would expect opportunity fire to be the most common mode of direct aimed fire. Yes, there is a place for brassing up the countryside on spec, but the fact that soldiers typically carry only enough ammunition for five minutes of rapid fire will put a pretty strern upper limit on that.

    A mechanism I quite like is that of making elements take up “fire positions” to qualify for the privilege of opportunity fire, and giving the fire position a particular orientation so that you can’t shoot at people outside your arc. Whereas saturating a defence doesn’t work, distracting it to concentrate in one direction then hitting it from another does (“Hold ’em by the nose then kick ’em in the pants”).

    All the best,

    John.

    #138800
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    Some form of opportunity fire is pretty much essential to my mind.  In the rules that I play most often these days, Rapid Fire, the mechanism is quite simple.  John’s ‘taking up fire positions’ is abstracted to having done nothing in your own turn.  If an element (tank/vehicle/gun model or infantry/machine gun stand) has neither moved nor fired in its own turn, it is eligible to conduct opportunity fire in the enemy turn.  Opportunity fire is only available to direct fire weapons and not to mortars etc.  To avoid arguments I like my players to either announce or put a marker against an element that has neither moved nor fired in its own turn.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #138804
    Jemima FawrJemima Fawr
    Participant

    I don’t like mechanisms that prevent opportunity fire by a unit in firing positions simply because they fired in their own turn.  If your unit is firing at a hedgerow opposite, it’s not going to end well for the enemy if they then suddenly leap out and charge you.  It’s not as if you’ve got muzzle-loaders and are going to take half a minute to reload while they charge you.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #138816
    MartinRMartinR
    Participant

    The short answer is yes.

    The longer answer is that it needs to be as simple as you can make it without a load of complicated extra steps and it has to mesh with the rest of the game mechanisms, particularly unit activation.

    I rather like the method used in5Core Commander where it is assumed that any movement at all within range of an unsuppressed enemy unit is subject to opp fire.

    Simply letting any unit fire at enemies who come within a particular distance regardless of turn sequence works OK. Effectively these become zones of control, a mechanism I use a lot in grid based games, and funnily enough, also appear in the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #138828
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    OK. Effectively these become zones of control, a mechanism I use a lot in grid based games, and funnily enough, also appear in the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame.

    Indeed I think the first opportunity fire rule I’m aware of, in the SPI boardgame “Combat Command” back in 1972, implemented it by means of ZOCs — units could be attacked when leaving a ZOC, as many times as they did so. SPI’s “Raid” (1977) gave MGs arcs of fire that were effectively zones of control extending over seceral hexes range, but limited in angle. Victory Games’ “Panzer Command” (1984) had ZOCs extending three hexes from the unit, but made opportunity fire dependent on passing a troop quality

    Something that grid-based games do naturally is to regulate the number of opportunity fire attack occurrences to one per hex moved. In miniatures games one might want to rule that an opportunity fire attack is possible once for every so many metres moved, but I have yet to see such a provision in any set of miniatures rules I have read.

    All the best,

    John.

    #138853
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    Many thanks!

    Excellent thoughts, many of which are already in the rules, (phew!).

    I’ll probably end up with a system where opportunity fire is certainly possible but not guaranteed; and certain weapons such as MMGs, A/T guns and open top AFVs have a better chance than tanks, etc.

    DB

     

     

    #138885
    Tactical Painter
    Participant

    You need to find a way to limit the high level of awareness that the player has, as opposed to what might occupy the attention of the unit. Do you allow fire at a target when there are other targets closer? It’s too gamey if I’m busy engaging an enemy unit and then suddenly fire at a target much further away which I as a player can see has become a very good target.

    An Overwatch rule can cover some of this (which is the effect of the Rapid Fire rule of no fire or movement in your previous turn). In order to take the “opportunity”, you need to have made yourself available for it and be alert to it.

    Another relates to movement rates. Just how much movement can a unit make in their turn while in the line of sight of the enemy before that enemy can fire? This is what looks so wrong in many games, when a unit traverses a good distance and is immune from fire. If you can find a way to abstract that into the rules then you may not need opportunity fire. For example if you can only move 1” in your turn then the enemy will have time to undertake that opportunity fire in their turn without the need for a special rule. Naturally I’m not advocating 1” movement rates but you get my point.

    This also relates to the length of turns. What time span do they represent? Much like micro movements, so a turn of only a few seconds limits what’s possible. I need to feel that what is possible in that time frame is plausible. The longer the time period represented by the turn and the greater the movement distance permitted the more I feel entitled to have my units make a response during an enemy turn.

    The Tactical Painter - painting miniature armies for battles on the table top.
    http://www.thetacticalpainter.blogspot.com/

    #138889
    MartinRMartinR
    Participant

    For more tactical games, the turn sequence in Squad Leader worked well. The advance phase allowed units to move (very slowly!) without being subject to opp fire, but otherwise it was resolved retrospectively by the defender after attacker movement. All those interlocked MG beaten zones…

    For something a bit more free and easy, Crossfire or Fireball Forward.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #138917
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    TP,

    Re: Do you allow fire at a target when there are other targets closer?

    Yes, good point. Not sure how often this would actually occur in agame, but I think you’re right, it would seem odd to permit it.

    DB

    #138934
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    Not necessarily.  It can depend upon what the firer is armed with and what type of targets are available.  For instance, a rifle section has line of sight to an enemy tank at 100m.  At 125m is an enemy rifle section advancing.  If the rifle section has an anti-tank weapon capable of damaging or destroying the tank then they would probably deem the tank the most dangerous and fire at it.  If they don’t have access to such a weapon then it would make more sense for them to fire at the enemy infantry rather than wasting bullets on a tank, even though they are not the closest target.

    You can swap that example around and have an anti-tank gun as the opportunity firer.  It can see enemy infantry at 350m and an enemy tank at 400m.  If I, as the player, was forced to fire at the infantry rather than the tank, because they are closer, then I wouldn’t be playing with those rules again.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #138938
    Tactical Painter
    Participant

    I don’t think it’s a problem to factor some of those things into the type of fire permitted. There are a couple of things to consider. Firstly, is a unit most likely to respond to the nearest threat? I think it would be wrong to assume they ignore it completely, as self-preservation has to come into play at some stage. It’s a reason AT gun crews carried personal weapons. It could be as simple as a modifier that makes it slightly harder to hit a target that is farther away than the nearest enemy unit (this factors in a range of things from assuming the crew are focussed on the nearest threats to limiting the all-seeing eye of the player).

    The other issue talks to training, leadership and fire discipline. Better quality and more experienced troops are more likely to be able to select their target than those who are poorly trained and inexperienced.

    A player who has left an AT gun in a position where it is unsupported and exposed to attack by enemy infantry doesn’t deserve to have that weapon operating at full effect and engaging enemy armour. The crew have been hung out to dry and who would blame them if self preservation overcame other considerations?

    The Tactical Painter - painting miniature armies for battles on the table top.
    http://www.thetacticalpainter.blogspot.com/

    #138967
    MartinRMartinR
    Participant

    The comments above reinforce the point I made earlier. Keep it as simple as you possibly can, unless you fancy writing a set of rules the size of an encyclopaedia….

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #138969
    Tactical Painter
    Participant

    The comments above reinforce the point I made earlier. Keep it as simple as you possibly can, unless you fancy writing a set of rules the size of an encyclopaedia….

    The two are not mutually exclusive. The premise may be complex but the skill of the rules writer is to distill the key elements and abstract it into a simple rule mechanic. However simple shouldn’t be the objective of the exercise. Historical plausibility is the key, simple is the solution. In order to get the abstraction right you need to delve into what the abstraction represents. Hence the discussion.

    The Tactical Painter - painting miniature armies for battles on the table top.
    http://www.thetacticalpainter.blogspot.com/

    #138989
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    A player who has left an AT gun in a position where it is unsupported and exposed to attack by enemy infantry doesn’t deserve to have that weapon operating at full effect and engaging enemy armour. The crew have been hung out to dry and who would blame them if self preservation overcame other considerations?

    Now you’ve introduced a factor that was not a part of my examples.  Nowhere did I say that the gun was unsupported.  The presence or absence of any supporting infantry was irrelevant to my points.  I was dealing purely with the gun and the choices the player faced when deciding what to do with that gun.  I chose to have the gun see enemy infantry at 350m and a tank at 400m because it would illustrate the absurdity of forcing the gun to engage infantry at a range where that infantry were really of little threat, but ignoring a tank at a very much threatening range.

    If a rule exists that forces units to opportunity fire at the closest enemy unit then that will lead to unintended consequences.  Yes, if the gun is facing enemy infantry at 50m then they very much are the greatest threat, supporting friends being present or not.  But consider this.  If such a rule exists all the attacking player needs to do is create a ‘shield wall’ of infantry in front of his tanks and thereby compel his opponent to only engage that infantry, making his tanks effectively invulnerable until all those poor infantry are dead.  Sounds very Soviet in a way, and you can guarantee that a certain type of gamer will do exactly that.

    Overall players should be free to pick their own targets, with little restriction unless historically accurate.

    P.S., I’m very much with Martin on keeping it simple.  I’ve played complex wargame rules and they sucked the fun out of everything.  I’m doing this for enjoyment, not so that I can replicate every nut and bolt of a battle where whole brigades are being pitched at each other.  Pre lockdown I was able to meet with and discuss the rules I use with one of its co-authors.  He was very much against introducing unnecessary complexities into his rules.  The whole point of them was being able to fight multi-battalion or brigade level WWII forces in a reasonable amount of time.  If you want something different then go and look at some other rule sets.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #138991
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    DH,

    You do hit upon one of the pertinent issues.

    Another expample is a Tiger with an M8 Greyhound at close range and a Pershing at just beyond close range.

    I could well imagine many a wargamer  “having a bit of a moan” if the Tiger was forced to engage the M8!

    In fact there are so many variables similar to the above, that the KISS philosophy will probably be foremost rules wise.

    Again, many thanks for your thoughts. It certainly helps getting the old grey matter going….

    DB

     

    #138998
    Tactical Painter
    Participant

    If you want something different then go and look at some other rule sets.

    I see. It’s your ball and you’re taking it home. Great discussion.

    The Tactical Painter - painting miniature armies for battles on the table top.
    http://www.thetacticalpainter.blogspot.com/

    #139000
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    If you want something different then go and look at some other rule sets.

    I see. It’s your ball and you’re taking it home. Great discussion.

    Yes, I can see that I should have put that rule author’s comments inside quotes to aid your understanding of my post.  To spell it out for you, everything I wrote from “He was very much ….” is what he said.   Your comment doesn’t exactly advance the discussion, does it?  Now if you want to write something constructive, have at it.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #139027
    mick hayman
    Participant

    The m8 might well be perceived as the greater threat than that Pershing.  Perception of a buttoned up tank commander in a dusty, camouflaged environment sees a AFV as an AFV and the ability to see the size of its gun or even the wheels hardly automatic.  Everyone should realize how even jeeps armed with just .50 MGs can drive off a column of  tanks. Pings are scary.

    #139082
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    Mick,

    Yes, certainly true to an extent.

    It’s one of those issues that needs careful balancing between simulation and game, hence the thread itself.

    One aspect being considered is that a target that is very close will become the priority target over other more distant targets, but beyond that the unit/player may choose the priority. This combined with a rule that does not make opportunity fire an automatic option may make players think about the risk/reward of an opportunity fire shot over a possibly better chance in their own “phase”?

    DB

    #139097
    Norm SNorm S
    Participant

    I see op fire as being essential, but it needs to be seen as integrated within the available actions in a given turn, so that everything has it’s ‘minutes’ occupied to the same degree. If you op fire, you should not be available to fire in the direct fire phase. i.e. you can only lay down so much fire in the same time frame.

    Some weapons need to be seen in the op fire role anyway, such as machine guns and anti-tank guns. Their role was to have interlocking fire zones and so op fire should not be a ‘bolt on’ rule to what else the rules can do, but fully integrated from the outset.

    Op fire is also a good rule to link with intensive fire or desperation fire or whatever term is used for that ‘urgent’ fire that will test the training of the crews.

    In terms of what is closer and presents the greater danger, under some threats an op firing unit might be more inclined to bug out rather than do what the wargamer wants:-)

    Equally, you don’t want gamers able to mask their good stuff by putting weaker things in front that would draw fire by default.

    If you take your example further, and swap out the Tiger fior an A/T gun, what if the distant tank was side on and a really good shot to take, too good to be true! but the M8 is closer and a danger to you – what kicks in, the best shot (best bang for buck) or self preservation from the fast firing, mobile M8? Is that a training / skill / morale division in thinking / action or is a single default, catch all rule overall the best option. The gamer should not be able to say ‘losing my A/T gun is worth it to take that tank out’ because that is unlikely what the crew is thinking or saying. A default general rule would not deal with your Tiger AND my A/T gun situation in an equally fair manner.

    Effective suppression rules can be tied in to how effective op fire is

    Aimed, deliberate fire is what it is and anyone can do it to varying degrees of competence, but op fire, depending upon environment can be subject to fleeting glimpses and fast reactions and good training and weapon familiarity.

    A state of ‘cautious movement’ indicating the best use of cover, could be used to negate the effectiveness of op fire.

    Should there be two types of op fire – cool and measured op fire, the sort that comes from an ambush and frantic panic op fire, the sort that is ….. well opposite to cool and measured 🙂

    cheers Norm

     

     

    #139107
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    Mick, Yes, certainly true to an extent. It’s one of those issues that needs careful balancing between simulation and game, hence the thread itself. One aspect being considered is that a target that is very close will become the priority target over other more distant targets, but beyond that the unit/player may choose the priority. This combined with a rule that does not make opportunity fire an automatic option may make players think about the risk/reward of an opportunity fire shot over a possibly better chance in their own “phase”? DB

    This ‘priority target’ dilemma can be eliminated through the way your game turn is structured.  My current rules of choice have the simple IGO UGO structure.  It has its faults but it keeps things simple.  My opportunity fire takes place during my opponent’s turn.  My firing unit must have done nothing in its own turn.  There are the ‘unused minutes’ for you I believe.  Anyway, you can only opportunity fire at a unit that your opponent moves (and that you can see, of course), and each of your units that has opportunity fire available can only use it once during your opponent’s turn.

    So if you have an anti-tank gun at the end of a street you can only opportunity fire it at something that your opponent moves into that street.  If the Pershing was already in the street at the start of your opponent’s turn then it’s not a legitimate target unless it moves.  Your opponent moves a M8 into the street and you successfully spot it.  Do you take your one chance of opportunity fire at the M8 or do you pass and hope that the Pershing moves so that you can take your shot at it instead?

    This type of game turn will not be to everyone’s taste, and it’s a long way from the simulation end of wargaming, but it’s giving me, the player, the agonising decision to make, and I enjoy that.  That’s why I play.  I am simultaneously Corporal Deephorse, Captain Deephorse, and Brigadier Deephorse, depending upon what decisions I am making.  I don’t want ‘Corporal anti-tank gunner dice throw’ to make my decision for me and remove the fun, or pain, from the game.  And for me it is a game.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #139108
    mick hayman
    Participant

    Cautious movement can sometime be the problem if there isn’t op fire.  I still remember games of Panzerblitz where my guys would sprint from cover to cover over open ground and the opponent never got a shot during their own fire phase. It was even satirically named “Panzerbush” by complainers.

    as for firing too often (once in op fire phase and later in direct fire phase) it might be helpful to recognize that fire over the span of a turn probably only occurs very small increment.  Whether the fig represents one vehicle or many and how long a turn can justify throwing out worries of too much fire.  Ammo loads are a pain to track but that is another solution.

    #139122
    Gillies SimGillies Sim
    Participant

    Not sure if it is pertinent but for me the opportunity fire is closely linked to the leadership and operational control (OPCON/OPCOM/TACON/TACOM).

    In the earlier example that Deephorse raised it is likely the ATG is operating under a different command with different priorities. So if taking this at a battalion level, the AT company or platoon would have been assigned priorities eg En Armour, En Armoured transport, En softskins. Then the issue becomes what can they reasonably see / what  do they assess as the biggest threat. This for me is where the leadership comes in, depending on the level it is pitched at do you want the player making that decision or is it too low level?

    Similar for the infantry except they are under the operational command of the battalion so it comes down to whether their tasking allows for them to “opportunity fire” and again what level of command decisions you want the player to have to take. If they are holding specific ground with only organic AT and the tank rocks up, probably a platoon commanders “actions on” over what happens. If there is attach AT support then it would be the situation above, leave it to the AT boys, stay in your own lane!

    Just my take! On a side note I am looking forward to these rules immensely!

    https://nottherivercottage.blogspot.com/

    #139223
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    GS,

    Yes, the player takes the role of both Battalion and Company commanders. Most orders or actions are issued with regard to those command levels.

    However there will be many occasions in the game when players are also making “tactical wargame” decisions down at platoon level, as the very nature of playing a miniatures based wargame using platoons as tactical units to create the granularity and challenge of WW2 combat, means that the player has to make these moves and position individual units as our miniatures, however well painted, cannot do this by themselves. So players, such as Deephorse, will also be able to make those down and dirty decisions as well.

    With assistance from the above contributions I’ve now settled, (hopefully) on an opportunity fire mechanism that permits units the chance to opportunity fire, with certain weapon systems having a better chance than others. If you fail, you still fire at the end of the enemy move action, but at disadvantage.

    If you manage to opportunity fire against an enemy at close range, then the dice roll is dispensed with and it’s an automatic shot. Ouch!

    DB

     

    #139225
    Gillies SimGillies Sim
    Participant

    Sounds very interesting David! And to be fair in defence, doctrine has positions determined 2 down, ie so Battlegroup CO would site Platoons so I totally get where you are coming from, it suits the level perfectly. You should punt them to the army and see if they take it up!

    Thank you,

    Gillies

    https://nottherivercottage.blogspot.com/

    #139226
    Sane MaxSane Max
    Participant

    John D salt has it, as usual in my view. Op fire in modern games is essential, but you only get so much fire – if you op fire, you don’t get to in your following turn. That’s how old BKC did it IIRC

    There is all sorts of gamesmanship associated with it though – where movement is one at a time, it was common to walk a squad of troops past the enemy, in the hope he would op-fire at them so you could then rush him with something else. that developed into moving said squad, with a smile at your foe who smiled back wryly…. and then NOT rushing him, just to annoy him 🙂

    but yes, no op-fire = not a proper WW2 wargame in my view

    #139236
    Jemima FawrJemima Fawr
    Participant

    There is all sorts of gamesmanship associated with it though – where movement is one at a time, it was common to walk a squad of troops past the enemy, in the hope he would op-fire at them so you could then rush him with something else.

    Yes, that is what I dislike about that sort of game mechanism: You fire at someone and they then get a free run through your arc of fire because you fired…

    Yeah…

    Your arc of fire hasn’t just suddenly disappeared because you fired a few rounds and you’re not going to suddenly stop firing and not shoot at close range because you already had a shot at them at long range.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #139239
    PatricePatrice
    Participant

    Very interesting remarks and ideas… I am working on 20th century (well, mostly early 20th C. Pulp to be honest) extensions of my rules just now…

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    http://www.anargader.net/

    #139240
    DCRBrownDCRBrown
    Participant

    RMD,

    Re: Your arc of fire hasn’t just suddenly disappeared because you fired a few rounds and you’re not going to suddenly stop firing and not shoot at close range because you already had a shot at them at long range.

    Not in O Group.

    That’s one of the mechanisms that used to annoy me, players using a sacrificial unit to draw fire; then the unit he really wanted to move now does so, moving out without a care in the world, accompanied by the band, cooks and the RAF in tow, as no one can now opportunity fire.

    In O Group there is reaction for every action and a potential second action for the same unit to fire again, if command & control is working ok.

    DB

    #139244
    Jemima FawrJemima Fawr
    Participant

    RMD,

    Re: Your arc of fire hasn’t just suddenly disappeared because you fired a few rounds and you’re not going to suddenly stop firing and not shoot at close range because you already had a shot at them at long range.

    Not in O Group. That’s one of the mechanisms that used to annoy me, players using a sacrificial unit to draw fire; then the unit he really wanted to move now does so, moving out without a care in the world, accompanied by the band, cooks and the RAF in tow, as no one can now opportunity fire. In O Group there is reaction for every action and a potential second action for the same unit to fire again, if command & control is working ok. DB

    Now look here, don’t you go flippin’ agreeing with me now…

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

Viewing 33 posts - 1 through 33 (of 33 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.