Any other Modern gamers ?

Conflicts and wars from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 20th century.
UshCha
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by UshCha » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:27 am

From reading and experience the key factors in battle that I would add are: Ground, Weather, Training (inc Doctrine), Logistics. Morale and Leadership. You allude to a few of these but I think that they should feature more heavily.
I did not want to add everything and bore folk but as you asked ;-).

Ground, we cover al the basiscs in our own way. What is unique with us in Ground is we have a workable dead ground system although by definition a bit approximate. One of the issues we are looking at in our games (the authors) is expanding the range of terrain we use. Mostly this is just a definition issue. How many types of terrain do you want? The game can have far more than we use and infact we are somtimes guilty of being quite limited to what we chose, that is our limitation not the games. How many folk use wooded slopes of Motorways, these can make it impossible for even tracked vehicles to climb.

Weather the same and of course day and night. However a platoon commander said with the advent of Night vision nighg and day tactics are becoming closer.

There are limits to leadership, morale and training that can be accomodated. A poor player acts as though he is badly trained. The all too prevalent CHARGE regardless of common sence cannot be avoided by rules. Morale - Again lots of folk say they get morale right but I have my doubts. We have a combined Fear Fire fatigue, ammo parameter called Leadership. As it degrades the ability to get the units to act as you would like deteriorates. Lower leaderships are more reluctant to move when suppressed. The parameter can also be looked at as an ammo supply when it reaches a certaon point the troops are nolonger a viable force. Brittleness can be set by the value at which troops cease to fuction. I have no real interest in rabid vengeful souls with no fear or training so we do not cover such folk.

Logistics (amatures concentrateon tactics, proffessionals on Logistics). Most players fight a single battle. so Logistics is not that significant factor if they have what they need at the start. Artillery have to have an allocation of ammunition. Typically what they carry for SP guns. They may have more for a Shoot and scoot but it takes quite a while to reload, or you risk loading from an exposed position, bad news if there is counter battery fire. For infantry see above. Again for vehicles normaly fuel and ammo is not an issue. The authors sometimes play at a higher level where the game can run for 150 bounds on a very long (but narrow board). Look at is a linked set of games with no breaks in the ground. Then logistics becones critical as vehicles need to re-form, re-arm and rest. This adds much to the complexity proably more than most players want. Many 1 stand=1 platoon neglect this entirely but since you are a above a company in action, logistics becomes a key parameter. There was an interesting thread in the old forum on bigger battles.

Doctrine - Interesting as far as I anm concerned that is not a rules issue. If you want to do so use your troops accordingly. Button up regadless and suffer the consequnces both good and bad. As I cannot teach a bad player good generalship, it is beyond me to teach him doctrine. I can give hom forces structured as the requisite structure but practicaly that is all.

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:33 am

hammurabi70 wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:31 am
I would be interested to know what the key factors are that you think a period-specific set of rules should have.
That's a tricky one to nail down I think, as it's about the "feel" of the game as much as specific features. I don't think it's about modelling the characteristics of specific weapons, I think it's about capturing how those technological aspects have affected the tactics.

Some stuff I think you need to capture in the modern setting:
  1. Heavy fog of war and the "empty battlefield". This is not a period where you should be deploying everything on your baseline at the start of the game and trundling forwards.
  2. Artillery should be off-table. Counterbattery should be a real threat and artillery should often be using shoot-n-scoot.
  3. Command and control should include friction. Turn sequence should not be strictly IGOUGO. If playing at a high level you need to factor in time for things like resupply or reorganisation required to execute an order.
  4. The rules should make defence in depth work. Wargamers often like to line everything up in a linear defence to get as many guns firing as possible.
  5. Differently trained forces should behave differently. A WarPac unit should require different handling from a NATO one. It's not just a case of different equipment, they worked very differently.
  6. Fire should have a morale effect. Many rules sets assume Fire = casualties and casualties = loss of morale. In reality fire itself can cause psychological effects without necessarily inflicting casualties.
  7. Infantry should be useful, and complement tanks rather than just support them. Irregular and light forces should produce just as good a game as armour.
  8. Games should be objective based. Objectives could be political and not limited to just "capture ground" or "kill baddies". Purely attritional battles are fairly rare in the period.
  9. The rules should work with assymetrical objectives and forces.
Bottom line is that the game should be making you think like a commander at the level you're representing. If you're a battalion commander you should be thinking about coordinating your fire plan and the stance and overall status of your units, not which direction a turret is facing or how many rounds a missile launcher has left. It's said that commanders shouldn't be concerned with anything more than two levels down from them, so if it's a company level game then you should be modelling individual vehicles or squads, for example.

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hammurabi70
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by hammurabi70 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:33 pm

Seret wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:33 am
hammurabi70 wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:31 am
I would be interested to know what the key factors are that you think a period-specific set of rules should have.
That's a tricky one to nail down I think, as it's about the "feel" of the game as much as specific features. I don't think it's about modelling the characteristics of specific weapons, I think it's about capturing how those technological aspects have affected the tactics.

Some stuff I think you need to capture in the modern setting:
  1. Heavy fog of war and the "empty battlefield". This is not a period where you should be deploying everything on your baseline at the start of the game and trundling forwards.
  2. Artillery should be off-table. Counterbattery should be a real threat and artillery should often be using shoot-n-scoot.
  3. Command and control should include friction. Turn sequence should not be strictly IGOUGO. If playing at a high level you need to factor in time for things like resupply or reorganisation required to execute an order.
  4. The rules should make defence in depth work. Wargamers often like to line everything up in a linear defence to get as many guns firing as possible.
  5. Differently trained forces should behave differently. A WarPac unit should require different handling from a NATO one. It's not just a case of different equipment, they worked very differently.
  6. Fire should have a morale effect. Many rules sets assume Fire = casualties and casualties = loss of morale. In reality fire itself can cause psychological effects without necessarily inflicting casualties.
  7. Infantry should be useful, and complement tanks rather than just support them. Irregular and light forces should produce just as good a game as armour.
  8. Games should be objective based. Objectives could be political and not limited to just "capture ground" or "kill baddies". Purely attritional battles are fairly rare in the period.
  9. The rules should work with assymetrical objectives and forces.
Bottom line is that the game should be making you think like a commander at the level you're representing. If you're a battalion commander you should be thinking about coordinating your fire plan and the stance and overall status of your units, not which direction a turret is facing or how many rounds a missile launcher has left. It's said that commanders shouldn't be concerned with anything more than two levels down from them, so if it's a company level game then you should be modelling individual vehicles or squads, for example.
Yes, a very interesting list that identifies a lot of the issues I have with existing rules. I would say that none of this is unique to late twentieth-century warfare as with other lists that are being created. What I do wonder is what specific issues there are for the Cold War era as distinct from tank warfare in general, although as my primary interest is WWII tank warfare I am happy with it anyway.
If you are such a great writer make me want to logon and respond! [Adapted]

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:34 am

hammurabi70 wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:33 pm
What I do wonder is what specific issues there are for the Cold War era as distinct from tank warfare in general, although as my primary interest is WWII tank warfare I am happy with it anyway.
Well, I'd argue that the Cold War wasn't really a period characterised by a lot of tank battles. Most of the proxy wars were counter-insurgency, bush wars or small unit special forces actions, so if you really want the flavour of the Cold War I'd say that's the place to look. The notable exceptions are the Arab-Israeli wars and India/Pakistan. I'd say the defining characteristic of the former is the desert environment which bumps up the importance of air power beyond what you'd get in a temperate climate and means your infantry will be motorised/mechanised, but not for the NBC reasons you see in European forces.

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Russell Phillips
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Russell Phillips » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:13 pm

Seret wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:33 am
Bottom line is that the game should be making you think like a commander at the level you're representing. If you're a battalion commander you should be thinking about coordinating your fire plan and the stance and overall status of your units, not which direction a turret is facing or how many rounds a missile launcher has left. It's said that commanders shouldn't be concerned with anything more than two levels down from them, so if it's a company level game then you should be modelling individual vehicles or squads, for example.
Completely agree with this. I still shudder at the memory of games of WRG & Challenger in the 1980s, with players choosing whether to fire HEAT or APFSDS. This with rules designed for battalion-regiment sized games.
Russell Phillips
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by sediment » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:05 pm

I agree with the playability issue, which is a big reason I never progressed further with FFoT in whatever iteration it is in now.

For the sort of COIN operations that make up most of the Cold War era, I've found that Force on Force offers the best game environment, although it helps to have an experienced player or umpire to smooth understanding of the reaction sequence - it is the one aspect of the game that can be very complex. Arc of Fire provides a fun game and covers more stand up fights very well, again with very little paperwork.

For those of us into modern fantasy, most references these days to Cold War imply adding Gone Hot or similar, i.e. a what if WW3 sometime between 1945 and the collapse of the Soviet Union around 1989. That setting has to be the ultimate tank-fest, at least in the early stages. So what does period feel look like? Depends when in that time frame. Through to at least the mid-50s it would have felt like WW2 with superheavy tanks. After that, a variety of new developments would have changed the face of battle, including ATGMs, SAMs, specialist air and artillery ordinance, electronic warfare, improved surveillance, improved comms, the role of helicopters, to name but a few. So a set of rules with the "modern feel" should incorporate all of these things, plus the basics familiar to WW2 gamers. I doubt the perfect set of rules is yet out there. However, the closest I've found is Coldwar Commander for brigade to divisional scale operations and the new "unofficial" battlegroup modern rules for platoon to battalion level games. Both are playable and focus on tactics, and the player is largely free to forget about wading through pages of stats.

Cheers, Andy

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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by dadlamassu » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:15 pm

The Cold War was a state of political hostility between countries characterised by threats, propaganda, and other measures short of open warfare. So I suppose a sort of modern world wide politico-economic version of "Diplomacy" might be the way to go. I am not a board gamer so there may actually be a board game for this. If you want actual fighting then I think you are not looking at Cold War but at the political and military action of the revolutions, proxy, small and civil wars of the Far East, Middle East, Africa, Balkans, Central America etc etc.

As has already been said the "Cold War Gone Hot" is not Cold War (because it has gone hot) but fantasy modern war and so you may base it on doctrine and training manuals, novels and theories or whatever else takes your fancy as none of them were tested in battle. So whatever you decide on as your "rules" will be open to criticism and opinion from others. That is not a reason to abandon the project just don't expect much concurrence.

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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Panzer21 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:40 pm

Well I'd argue Arab-Israeli was more than desert environment and air power and as to infantry.....well.

The predominant factor would appear to be a combination of morale and training; the IDF were probably inferior in terms of technology and equipment, but far superior in the use they made of their armour, with a significant omission that I'll come on to. In 1967 air power dominated; with almost total air superiority they were able to defeat Jordanians with inferior armour (M-51 v M-48), given that the Jordanian army was the best trained of all the Arab states. In 1973, the air power was not such a factor until the SAM umbrella is nullified. There is still a disparity, although it's less with T-62 and T-55 v M-60 / M-48. Again however, the quality thing comes into play; just read accounts of the Golan.

Infantry: the IDF had a low opinion of most infantry apart from paras (and Golani). 1967 seemed to confirm they were not much use apart from where terrain (Golan) or BUA (Jerusalem) required them, and here they had to be elite as well as supported by armour. In 1967, the Arabs seemed to confirm it further. The IDF promptly concentrated on tanks with minimal mechanised infantry support. Artillery was another deficiency, as tanks seemed to provide enough firepower.

The shock of missile equipped infantry in well prepared defensive positions facing an army with a very poor combined arms doctrine is the story of 1973 Sinai. Egyptian attempts at an offensive were probably down to poor training (the early part of Yom Kippur was extensively planned and rehearsed). Again it's the training and morale which seem to determine the outcome.

Indo-Pakistan is similar; in 1965 the Pakistanis had the quantitative edge with M-48 and M-47 Pattons. However I've read they were too technically complex for the Pakistani soldiers (stated by Indians it must be said) with laser range finders losing out to old fashioned "over, under, on" 3-round technique of Indian Centurions. Whatever the reality (reading both sides results in diametrically opposed accounts of most actions and the reasons for the outcome) neither side did well in anything other than defensive actions. 1971 is even harder to assess as in the East the Indians had overwhelming quantity and probably quality (Pakistani armour being almost all Chaffees). In the west it seems to have been a replay of 1965, although both sides fielded T-54/55/59 few were engaged.
Again this seems to come down to training and morale, as well as command and control (which again is another dominant factor in Arab-Israeli wars).

These wars were closely studied of course by NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In particular, the use of ATGM was probably over analysed with conclusions drawn that may not have been that valid.

So what should "modern" rules contain to have a "feel"?
The biggest problem as I see it is the technology; often rules get so mesmerized by it, it pushes a lot of other stuff out and there's an overwhelming need to include details. So for example, the WW2 armour tropes of HE and AP give way to APFDS, HESH, APFDSDU and other alphabet soup acronyms with corresponding blazer and ceramic armour values. Unfortunately, most of this is still classified coupled with over optimistic manufacturers claims and often bogs the designer down in all sorts of ways. Strangely, EW is often a vague "bolt-on". Once you add the problems with organisational scale (platoon /company level playing more like 1:1) it can become a mess. To add to which, gamers seem to want the complexity (or apparent "realism") of all the technology and ammo types.

My experiences are confined to two sets: Modern Spearhead and Combined Arms (GDW modern Command Decision). Neither were perfect, CA getting focused on platoons selecting the correct ammo (in what was a battalion or nominally divisional level game) but with a very strong emphasis on morale and training, resulting in the superior force literally out shooting the other. MS well I suppose was more accessible, but really needed careful force/scenario selection to make it work IMHO.

I will recount 2x games:
MS, a 1967 Arab-Israeli scenario from the Journal. "Adapted" by the umpire to forces available, while removing aircraft (new to rules wanting to keep it simple). Reasonably experienced players. It ended with the IDF equipped with AMX-13s and M-50 Shermans facing off v Egyptian T-54/55 upslope. IDF no air, artillery or smoke with restricting terrain were left with the choice of glaring at the enemy or attacking frontally. Became purely attritional. Soviet armour able to depress guns out shot IDF. While scenario was unbalanced, it was based on reality to some extent (AMX-13s facing off v T-54/55) but nothing about the game felt historical. Even fed back to one of the authors who complained he "didn't know what we were doing" but it wasn't the game he designed and blamed us for making "errors". My response was that if a set of rules required the author to be present to "interpret" them, there must be issues with how they were written! I suspect they had only been tested with one kind of game and not play tested to destruction!

Another game had a U.S. Cavalry Regiment take on a category 2 type Soviet MRD or TD (I forget which). Sadly the Soviets opted for a mass forward trundle down one side of a central ridge. The players were used to WRG but we were using CA. In what rapidly became a one-sided Turkey shoot, the technological superior U.S. obliterated the Soviets; coupled with poor tactics (open flank, no use made of superior artillery or helicopters) it was a slaughter. When the umpire took over there were real challenges (Hinds used aggressively and in numbers, counter-battery fire when failed to shoot n scoot) but overall what seemed like an unrealistic whitewash. Troop quality meant the U.S. caused greater casualties and the advantage of numbers was thrown away by poor tactics (if they had advanced on a broad front, the U.S. would have been stretched too thin). Hellfire missiles were deadly, and seemed overrated.
This was before the Gulf War had happened.
I remember seeing pictures of an Iraqi division that had been caught and incinerated with ranks of destroyed vehicles and it took me back forcibly to that game and the Soviets at the end. It was very sobering.

So "modern" rules IMHO have to somehow balance the obvious important technological aspects with the very human ones of training, morale and command /control. If the balance swings too far one way or the other it can cause problems. In addition, it's easy to make the rules too complex or too simple. I guess that's why people are still looking for the "perfect" set!
Neil.

UshCha
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by UshCha » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:14 am

One of the fallacies that are often pronounced as far as wargames are concerned is that they should stick slavishly to only coverong 3 levels dowm. While ths is true FOR THE REAL WORLD, the real world commanders in general have competent underlings. A company commander will define the formation of the unit and Doctrine or the current ground will make him decide the overall approach to being buttone up. This is in effect definng the turret positions and the formation and arcs of fire of the company. I certaily almost never have a sub commander and never the privalage of one who undetstands tank warfare. So we are forced to act several layers down to approach sanity. Relacing a formation with directed firepower and vision, with a wide area view and firepower representing a unit in several formations at once is just daft. So if you want to play high level you will have to play several layers down. Sombody has to place company assests as they cannot uniformly cover all the front. Somebody has to decide if one platoon needs to be kept in resereve. Both these dictate the practcal frontage and firepower pf a unit and its limitations.

Go look at a Motor rifl battalion defensive position. It ist a thing of bueaty and complexity. It cannot be ignored at whatever level you are playing. No matter how good your morale is, if the CO has you looking on the wrong direction (happens a lot in the desert from 67 onwards) you are dead meat. Any rules need the basics, linear ranges, representative terrain and weapons that are a credible representation of the real thing in its credible formation. Sadly that is rarely the case. While Nappolionic players will generaly attempt to get a battalion to cover the correct frintage WW2 and beyond rarely do this.

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:01 am

UshCha wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:14 am
So we are forced to act several layers down to approach sanity.
I disagree, you can certainly simulate the competence of your underlings in a wargame. The mechanics can just be designed to simulate them doing their jobs. For instance, if your smallest element is a platoon or a company you aren't going to be worrying about fire arcs for individual weapons, indeed for a company you probably aren't going to worry about arcs at all since you aren't simulating specific weapons. Not everything needs to be simulated, the higher up the food chain you move the more needs to be abstracted away, otherwise you just get bogged down in stuff that's not relevant to your level of command.

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