Home Forums Modern Pinned

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #88350

    We use two rule sets that use the term “pinned” to describe a reaction of a unit being shot at or having absorbed close combat casualties.

    These are a WW2 set & a Colonial set. AFAIK “pinned” is a concept that only applies to modern combat (if you can include C19th Colonial: there’s no other board at TWW for this period). Seemingly Ancient, Dark Ages, medieval or Renaissance warriors can’t be “pinned” ( I await correction).

    I’m more or less literate & did understand the basic term. The specifics  in both rule sets are quite precise in applying the morale state to units under some form of loss or duress. A single casualty or an averse dice roll can result in a unit either hugging the ground (WW2) and not fighting back or simply milling around, unwilling to close with the enemy (Colonial).  Further stress usually ends in a rout. A successful throw of rally dice ends the angst.

    After our last game of Colonials, set in Mahdist Sudan, the Colonial powers only hope was to pin their enemy before they could close with their spears and terrible “crusader” swords. And this they largely did, provoking a lively post-game discussion.

    Could our esteemed readership weigh in?

    1. Is “pinned” an actual thing?
    2. How would a “pinned ” unit react & act?
    3. What precisely, is needed to provoke a “pinning”?
    4. Is pinning & the mechanisms described merely  wargamers’ means of structuring a battle & turn it into a game?



    The usage of the term pinned varies wildly from one set of rules to another, anything from merely unable to proceed (but able to shoot back) to completely unable to move or shoot and liable to run away.


    Military terminology for the latter state tends to be either neutralized or suppressed .

    They are all perfectly valid concepts for units whose ability to function is diminished but there isn’t a common definition of pinned.



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

    Mike Headden

    My view

    1. Yes
    2. Pinned units would do next to no acting or reacting
    3. It is the point at which the sense of self preservation urging you to go back is finely balanced by the realisation you may be shot if you go backwards – leading to a temporary paralysis. Either officers or other leaders rally the unit and get it moving forward (“Gentlemen, we are being killed on the beaches. Let us go inland and be killed.” Gen Norman Cota) or the unit remains pinned until action elsewhere/ nightfall/ other circumstances allow it to retire or self preservation takes over and the unit breaks.
    4. It’s a mechanism that replicates a real thing, however imperfectly.

    That’s my take – YMMV

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!


    Yes, its a real thing.

    At the fight for Cuzco a Spanish contingent found itself pinned by the sheer volume of Inca sling stones.  They were unable to advance or retreat until help turned up.


    1. Pinned is a modern term but probably not a modern concept at least in general.

    In modern terms, soldiers generally use cover by small units.  Fire teams and squads is the term in the US Army.  Section for UK?  Individuals and even entire squads will become pinned.  The soldier is too afraid to stick his head up and shoot back.

    You don’t really get that in warfare from the Horse and Musket period on back to the beginning of history.  You do get a similar effect with disorder as men shrink back behind their buddies or even break ranks and run away.  In that sense, you do have a “pinning” effect but it affects a much larger body of men.

    So the concept of softening up the enemy is certainly their but warfare is so different that “pinning” is not quite the same in modern times as it is any other time.  Even Napoleon developed tactics where he would “pin” his enemy with a limited attack and maneuver to the flank to finish the army off.  Probably the earliest example of “fix and flank” tactics but the pinning attack is more or less just a way to distract the enemy from the real attack.

    2. Pinned units would remain in cover and would be limited in it’s ability to attack an enemy.  Optionally, it could potentially retreat to another position.

    3.  In modern terms, a volume of fire would be required to pin a unit.

    4.  Pinning is often portrayed in steps like “pinned” and “suppressed”.  Often it predictable which is not very realistic.  Other times it is resolved with rally checks to see if the unit gets enough nerve up to fight.  Whatever the case, the concept is real world and any inclusion is always welcomed by me in a modern era wargame.




    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    Shaun Travers

    I found this discussion on TMP from last year a very good overview on pinned and suppressed for modern combat.  A warning that it is 5 pages but it does have people that have been pinned and suppressed discussing it:



    Norm S

    Pinning and or supppression have a loose association throughout modern tactical rulesets and tend to suggest at the tactical levels, troops forced to keep their heads down, due to suppressive fire, but in abstract systems, it can be used to reflect things like a member of squad becomming a casualty and causing temporary distraction to the team etc.

    In the wider sense, I think you can have pinning of one wing while you concentrate on the other and in napoleonic warfare the divide tactic of the ‘central position’ was based on the pinning of one enemy force.

    From a wargame perspective, I doubt is can be strictly defined, because rule writers use it in slightly different ways, though it usually stops a force having the freedom to manoeuvre.

    John D Salt

    This is a topic that seems to come up at intervals, with little new being said each time, and precious little hard data presented. The latest discussion on TMP alluded to by Shaun Travers does not seem to say anything that hasn’t been said many times before, with some contributors giving references to sources already cited earlier in the thread, and getting themselves muddled up with the 3:1 force ratio of contentious convention. War Artisan’s analysis of “hundreds” of tactical records would be useful and interesting if he had recorded it all in a format he could share, but sadly that seems to have been “too academic”.

    With no apologies whatever for being one of these dreadful academics, I offer, with no very great confidence that I haven’t already mentioned this at least once, my own list of suppression and related models from last year’s ISMOR. Sources are cited for each model, although I skim quickly over the arty and miss-distance models on the grounds that they are (or should be) all very well known, and if anyone has a clearer or more complete exposition of Coops’ “colour” model than the one cited in “On Combat” I would be pleased to hear about it. Here’s the link, see if you can spot the glaring error:


    If anyone has any information on any other published models of suppression or related phenomena — especially from non-Anglophone sources — my ears are flapping gently in the breeze.

    As for the revision of the STANAG on suppression, a pal of mine was involved in that effort. I haven’t heard anything about it for quite a while, so I fear that it may have been put in the “too difficult” bin.

    All the best,


Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.