Monday, July 17, 2017

Back on Blogger! Modern Micro Armor concepts...

Look closely at the name - you'll see an homage to the memory of those who served "Up the Blue!"

So have returned from another glorious training session with a Stryker Brigade. Hot, humid, buggy, miserable for much of it, a constant reminder of the sacrifices that need to be made from the small [showering, sleeping] to the big [away from home and family, chance of death by heat cat / accident]. Also, renews a desire to do some modern gaming, if only to help me keep in mind the various staff lessons and approaches that I need to keep track of, ergo...

I'm now working on adapting my take on the OHW WWII rules to Moderns. 

At this point, it's pretty much a set of rules that is ONLY inspired by Neil Thomas' "One-Hour Wargames", really, as so much has been changed. Mainly the commitment to simplicity, and the use of the scenarios are the surviving OHW factors.

Modern / Contemporary OHW Concepts
Well, there are a two main changes I want to make with the update to Contemporary Combat from WWII - I want to portray the rapid pace / destructiveness of fighting and the impact of technology.

Rapid Pace of Modern Combat
This seems to necessitate two main changes:
1. A turn sequence that is highly interactive,
2. A combat mechanic that is quick and deadly, and allows easy incorporation of technology as needed by a scenario / theater / matchup, etc.
These are both "feel" driven and abstract, while also needing to be tech-specific at times so you can "feel" or "use" the technology. It doesn't always have to work, but it needs to be a player option so it represents a choice / coarse of action [COA] during the game.

1. Interactive Turn Sequence.
I tinkered with this in posts HERE, but that was fror Pike and Shotte, which isn't exactly a rapid-pace time of warfare. Today we'd decide and act in seconds or minutes what they would have fuddled around with for hours, pretty much.

IGO-UGO is quite manageable. It is also realistic to say that few actions happen simultaneously, and they are usually more a product of sequential or overlapping decisions and their consequences. Also, some COA are always sequential, in that the plan for one side depends on another event being effected, e.g. "We will advance on the objective when the artillery barrage concludes". So players need to be able to seqentially execute or even string together COA, both for game manageability and realism.

OTOH it is NOT realistic to say that one entire SIDE in a fight performs all of its actions followed by the other. Since decisions are allowed to be made by multiple parties in the vast majority of wargame "units" portrayed on the table. Indeed, the OHW scale would have 2-3 decision makers at least even in the ancient period, up to 1 / Unit in the WWII period. So, we need a turn sequence that allows a few actions by one side, and then a few by the other side, it seems.

NOR is it realistic to say that a side performs all Actions of the same type in a given time frame [move, shoot, close combat]. We need to allow that a Shoot Action may precede another action, e.g. a preliminary artillery barrage going in and concluding before the Blue force closes in on the objective for close shooting or even close combat.

So, I'm looking for an interactive seqence wherein each side gets to execute some Actions followed by the other side, and the Actions may be of several types: Move, Fire, Assault. However, I do not want a burdensome interactive sequence with lots of chits or phasing to remember. Much as I love and respect Fistful of Tows 3, I find its use of 8 Phases with 32 Steps to be quite cumbersome - it doesn't FEEL like fast action when you play it out! And having chits for Fire Zones, Reduced Effectiveness, Quality Checks, Suppression, Overwatch and Hold Fire is also unattractive and difficult to track.

Ergo, I will return to trying out a D6 Roll-Off mechanic. The amount by which one side wins allows that many actions, e.g. 6 v. 3 allows 3 Actions for the winner, 4-3 allows one, etc. Ties will end up with some sort of lost time and/or quick time for Actions. This neatly allows one side to initiate some Actions and then the other to react to it. Hey, if you roll well, you can get up to 5 Actions before your opponent. However, he will also be fighting back every step of the way in combat. Also, it will be easy to give a side with excellent C3 a +1 or something, so they've an advantage.

2. Quick and deadly combat mechanic.
I'd like to retain sequential combat resolution, but have each combat affect both sides simultaneously, rather than the "It's my turn and I shoot and only I inflict Hits on you" aspect of the OHW combat mechanic design. The simultaneous fight allows the turn sequence to be broken up more easily. I also want fewer Hits per Unit, so that I don't have to have 3D6 sitting on each unit. It pretty much fills the table with dice tracking Hits, not aesthetically pleasing.

The easiest way I can think to do this is to steal the DBA roll-off mechanic. If you win, you inflict a Suppressing Hit [can be rallied off], if you double the opponent you inflict a Permanent Hit- PH - [cannot be rallied off], and if you treble the opponent you inflict two PH, and if you quadruple the opponent they are auto-destroyed [poor bastards].  Units can take 3 PH and are then removed. They can also take 3 SH, but all Hits after that are PH Hits. The ratio mechanic has always been an outstanding mathematical model for DBA, it keeps both players fully engaged in the game, and it is quite simple.

The above Turn sequence and simultaneous combat introduces a more dynamic flow of actions by permitting a player, through the combination of BOTH the dice rolls [has to lose most of the turns initial roll-offs, then win the initial roll-offs next turn] and planning [has to save the Units he wants to move last, i.e. counter-move, for the end of the turn] to get two Actions before the opponent can Act. 

In this Modern Combat adaptation, I'm using a simultaneous roll-off mechanic, so taking two shots without being able to fight back is not an issue. It does help to win initiative at the beginning of the turn as you get to set the pace of Action. Also, engaging an OPposing UNit -OPUN- in a fight usually takes away its own turn.

I've already done one playtest / development session. I need to do a cleaner playtest.
Yep, it's scenario #8, Melee. 
The Blue ATGMs on the hill have just been wiped out and Green infantry are contesting it. Blue Infantry are digging in on the other side to likewise contest, while another infantry is holding off a few units from the woods, but it doesn't look good there...


  1. I really dig these ideas. Modern combat is fast paced and brutal. Although not to replicate any rules, id steer you towards GHQs modern microarmour rules for ideas and a great discussion of the generational gap between various forces. I like the way they represent it in that game. You can always borrow mine if you like.

    I like the idea of selecting the options for my forces and i really like the way you'd assign actions. It guarantees that no 2 games will ever be the same and you as the leader are always making decisions.

    Will these units represent individual vehicles or platoons?

    Mechwar 77 also used a similar idea with regards to attacks and attrition (actually GHQ borrowed the ideas from SPI i think) although they used a CRT versus an opposed die roll.

    Very exciting stuff! Ive a Soviet T72 regiment and an H series MTOE M60 M113 Battalion if you want to use them for practice.

  2. Hey Steve, Thanks for thoughts. In order:
    - I have a copy of GHQ WWII Micro armor I got from you...same system?
    - yeah, I want Command-level decisions to be made with every Action, and with the opposed combat I think both players will find themselves constantly engaged.
    - These are platoons: the player is a company / battalion commander. the concept therefore is that the platoon is itself somewhat dynamic within its AO, the 3 bases that portray it on the table, but only significant activity is gamed.
    - Happy to try this out with your microarmor...altho I couldn't resist getting a STryker Force and some Soviet proxies for middle east near future war, perhaps Syria or something.

  3. so I'm hoping that I don't hate my GHQ micro armor when it shows up! The alternative is 15mm which I think is just way too big for a platoon-unit game.

  4. The modern GHQ games are a slight departure from their ww2 cousin in that most modern armies may move and shoot in the same turn. The better more modern the force, the more advantages it has and the more it can shoot.

    But they do have this generational gap concept neatly nailed down.

  5. The GHQ armor is lovely! have to do a post on working with it.
    Yes, I'm heading the same direction as GHQ - the more modern the unit, the easier it is for it to shoot on the move for vehicles due to gadgetry. For infantry, they'll be penalized as only a portion shoot during leap-frogging movement. I may allow some types, e.g. special forces, to shoot full effect due to superior training, gadgets, etc.
    Meanwhile, I'm still unable to take you up on your generous offer to putter around with your tanks, or playtest anything, as I'm off to TX!
    Real life keeps getting in the way of gaming, but its a good cause.

  6. Very keen to see these rules. That's a very exciting blog post. Agree with you on FFoT3 - it purports to be simple, and I guess at its heart it is, but that turn sequence does throw me whenever I come back to it.

  7. Hey Duc, Welcome and thanks for visiting from over "Sound Officer's Call" way. I'm planning a WWII version first, culminating in a big old game celebrating The 76th anniversary of operation Crusader. Reason being that the concepts are the same but the technology is a lot tamer. So Fire and movement is the name of the game, but gyroscopic stabilizers are in their infancy, etc. Ditto air, everything else. I think the FFT3 is a great game and succeeds within design intent - it's just that the plentiful rules and turn sequence give me agita. Also, I think there's too much concern with HOW one gets to a result rather than concentrating on the result itself - which is what war is all about anyway. So who care HOW my platoon succeeds in advancing without getting completely mauled - whether smoke, distraction or something else. All that matters is did I do it. Results-oriented design I think will simplify things a lot.

    We'll see!


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