Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – New turn sequence

In the light of Ross Mac's very helpful suggestions, I have revised the turn sequence as follows:
  • Any Artillery Unit that is within range may fire. Because artillery fire is deemed to be simultaneous, casualties are removed after all artillery fire has taken place.
  • Both sides roll a D6 die to see which side will activate its Units first. The side with the highest score activates its Units first this turn.
  • The first side throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
  • The first side then selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn.
  • When activated, a Unit may move or fire; it cannot do both. It therefore follows that any of the first side’s Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not be activated this turn.
  • All Close Combats initiated by the first side are resolved and casualties are removed.
  • Once the first side has activated all the Units it may activate, the second side throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
  • The second side then selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn.
  • When activated, a Unit may move or fire; it cannot do both. It therefore follows that any of the second side’s Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not be activated this turn.
  • All Close Combats initiated by the second side are resolved and casualties are removed.
  • Once the Close Combats have been resolved, the turn has ended and the next may begin.
This new turn sequence means that the activation dice have a central role in determining how many of each side's Units can move or fire each turn, and the introduction of the move or fire option opens up a variety of tactical possibilities. For example, it should encourage players to use their Artillery Units (and even their Mortar and Machine Gun Units) to fire in support other Units as they move. It should also prevent Tank Units moving forward and firing as they do so ... which is something that seems to have been done in films far more frequently than in real life.

I have now begun to look at the Close Combat rules, as these also seem ripe for amendment, if only to make them somewhat easier to understand.

9 comments:

  1. Bob,
    The amended turn sequence is logical, and seems likely to encourage correct tactics of supporting fire and then movement into close combat by other units.

    May I offer a small suggestion on presentation, which might make the rules more concise and a bit less daunting at first sight - which was my initial reaction upon seeing the new sequence before reading it carefully.

    If you were to number the steps, instead of using bullet points, rather than repeating the turn sequence for the second player, you could simply say something like 'The second side then follows steps 5 to 7. Once the Close Combats have been resolved, the turn has ended...'

    You may, of course, disagree, believing that it is better to spell each step out again in full - I suppose it all depends on the comprehension skills of your target audience.

    A more general comment on the whole issue of amendments to the rules: obviously, each of us is free to adapt/amend/reject any part(s) of the rules we choose, and there is no reason why there should not be an 'introductory' version of the rules for use with youngsters or novice players, and slightly more complex rules onto which they can move later - or we veterans can use from the start.

    I can't help wondering whether the Morschauser rules as originally published fell firmly into the former category, and that Joe himself was gaming with further developments of them. It would then be entirely appropriate for you/us to develop different versions of them, as Joe himself suggests in Chapter XI.

    Regards,
    Arthur

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  2. Arthur1815,

    I had thought of numbering the turn sequence (it was numbered in one of my drafts, but somewhere along the line it was changed), and now that you have suggested it, I will make that change. It will also make it possible to simplify the turn sequence along the lines you suggest.

    I think that you are right about the need for simple versions of rules for beginners/novices. I also agree that the rules in Morschauser's book are very much at that end of the spectrum, and that the developments I am trying to make - with the help of people like you and Ross Mac - are the sort that Joseph Morschauser would have made.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Bob,
    Funny the topic of basic and advanced rules should come up. Having started to look at placing terrain on my board I decided it was time for a more careful read of the terrain rules. I would like to be sure my understanding of your intention is correct.

    Hills.
    a)A 2 contour high hill side adjacent to a plain is an impassible cliff. (As opposed to a 2 contour hill adjacent to a 1 contour hill which may be climbed in stages)

    b) 1 contour will slow cavalry, armoured cars and command unless they ascend a multi square ridge and move along it any other movement would involve an ascent then a descent or 2 ascents if climbing a a 2 contour hill.

    c) 1 contour hills have no effect on the movement of other troops since they only move 1 square anyway.

    d) Troops defending a 1 contour hill are penalized the same as the attacker. (there is still a slight advantage as an over all reduced chance to hit should result in more draws which force the attacker to withdraw )

    e) troops attacking downhill are not penalized

    Rivers.
    f) Can a unit enter a non fordable river square without crossing (no idea why they would want to since they can't shoot)

    g) Can a unit move along a fordable river as opposed to crossing it? If they do so do they still suffer a melee penalty (I would expect so )

    h) Is a unit which is defending while in a river penalized in melee?

    Woods
    i) do woods, towns etc block line of sight for firing? (which means no shooting in woods)
    j) If firing on a digaonal

    Line of sight.
    Since range is measured by tracing an orthogonal path, is line of sight determined this way as well?
    (ie assuming woods block line of sight, 2 units which were adjacent diagonally would not be able to shoot at each other as the path would go through a blocked square?

    Hope none of these question pebbles starts any landslides!

    -Ross
    -Ross

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  4. Ross Mac,

    Due to restrictions on the number of characters I can use, my answers to your questions are going to come in several parts.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Part 1

    I will try to answer your questions, although the answers to some of them will be affected by the changes I am making in the next draft of the rules.

    Here goes (my answers are in bold, by the way!):

    Hills:
    a) A 2 contour high hill side adjacent to a plain is an impassable cliff. (As opposed to a 2 contour hill adjacent to a 1 contour hill which may be climbed in stages)
    Yes. That is the intention.
    b) 1 contour will slow cavalry, armoured cars and command unless they ascend a multi square ridge and move along it any other movement would involve an ascent then a descent or 2 ascents if climbing a 2 contour hill.
    Yes. That is the intention.
    c) 1 contour hills have no effect on the movement of other troops since they only move 1 square anyway.
    Correct. Unless I increased every Units movement so that I could reduce it on hills, I could see no other solution other than the one I have used for rivers (i.e. Move in turn A; Stop during turn B; Move again in turn C).
    d) Troops defending a 1 contour hill are penalized the same as the attacker. (There is still a slight advantage as an over all reduced chance to hit should result in more draws which force the attacker to withdraw)
    This is true in the current version that is online BUT I intend to remove the penalty in the next draft.
    e) Troops attacking downhill are not penalized.
    Correct. They do not suffer a penalty (or bonus).

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  6. Part 2

    Rivers:
    f) Can a unit enter a non fordable river square without crossing (no idea why they would want to since they can't shoot?)
    No, they cannot enter the grid square if the river is not fordable. The rule is that if a terrain item (and that includes a river) is in a grid square, the whole grid square is deemed to be filled with that terrain (this idea is taken from the 1956 British Army Wargame).
    g) Can a unit move along a fordable river as opposed to crossing it? If they do so do they still suffer a melee penalty (I would expect so).
    In theory, yes … but as you say, why would they want to? Once they have to entered the grid square with a river in it, they have to remain stationary for a turn before they can move, just as if they were wading through the river. They also suffer the melee penalty all the time they are in the grid square.
    h) Is a unit which is defending while in a river penalized in melee?
    This is my intention.

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  7. Part 3

    Woods:
    i) Do woods, towns etc block line of sight for firing? (Which means no shooting in woods?)
    Any vertical obstacles block line-of-sight. As to fighting in woods and built-up areas … well I thought long and hard about this one, and decided that such fighting would be Close Combat. Artillery, Mortars, and Infantry Gun Units can fire into such areas, but other Units cannot.
    j) If firing on a diagonal Line of sight. Since range is measured by tracing an orthogonal path, is line of sight determined this way as well? (i.e. assuming woods block line of sight, 2 units which were adjacent diagonally would not be able to shoot at each other as the path would go through a blocked square?
    I had intended that line-of-sight would be a straight line between the firing Unit and its target. As presently written, the line-of-sight rules read as follows:
    ‘If an entire Unit can be seen by an Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the artillery fire is direct fire; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. town, woods, and trenches), the artillery fire is indirect fire.’
    ‘If an entire Unit can be seen by a non-Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the target Unit is in the open; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. town, woods, and trenches), the target Unit is behind cover.’

    If the two Units in you example could fire at each other (i.e. their weapons have the range) but could not see each other in their entirety, then the fire would be indirect (for Artillery Units) or count as if the target was in cover (for non-Artillery units).


    As usual, some interesting and thought-provoking input. I will try to send you a copy of the latest draft tomorrow if I can get it finished.

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  8. Thanks Bob. Its always good when rules mean what they appear to say. BTW, I had adopted the same approach to fighting in woods or larger built up areas in my Morschauser inspired rules.

    As for the moving up or down stream, I was thinking of a situation when there is a long shallow, fordable river and a unit, lets say a Red one, is fording the river. Blue also has a unit fording the river 2 squares away. If the initiative and activation rolls work out that unit might move along the river to attack the fording Red unit, or preferably assist an attack on it by a Blue unit not in the river. I don't see this happening a lot.

    I look forward to trying the game on Saturday.

    -Ross

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  9. Ross Mac,

    I hope to get the latest draft of the rules finished today, and will send you a copy if I can.

    I look forward to hearing how your battle goes.

    All the best,

    Bob

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