Sunday, March 20, 2011

Presented changes after 18/3 playtest

0. General ideas:

  1. Command points need to work more directly: player must have the option to use up their command points, leaving none for defense, if they want to force the attack.  The highest commander on board can generate command points, say Quality x 2 plus a D6 bonus - this will even out the variation a bit.  OR we can have each commander on board generate points, although this means more administration.
  2. Alternatively, we can have movement switch sides quicker, for instance by rolling against the leader quality, losing the turn (the turn goes to the opposite player) if the roll fails.  The goal is to have a game that is relatively quick, and that keeps both players involved as much as possible.  This has to be tested in a game situation.
1. Game scale:
Map Scale was 1" to 100m.  That does not work well for squad scale gaming, the feel of the map is completely wrong.  Our square 60" table would represent a 6 by 6 km area.  We changed it to 1 cm to 10 m, which worked better.  Our table now represented a 1,5 by 1,5 km area.
Modified unit movement rate to reflect the new scale, but only increased movement by factor 2.  The command point changes might mean a unit moves twice in a turn, hence the reduced increase in movement.

2. Hidden Initial Placement
Units can remain hidden using number HIP counters.  HIP counters will have a flag on one side, the number on the other.  That way the units remain hidden to the opponent.  Also, each player will have 10 HIP counters and 10 fake HIP counters, without numbers.  All units move 8" per turn, if they move more they reveal their unit type to the opponent (because only vehicles can travel faster than 8")

3. Artilery
The current artillery precision system is flawed: it is the distance between spotter and target that determines the error, the distance to the artillery gun is not as important.  The artillery die can be used directly.  If the crosshairs are rolled, the shot is on target.  If not, the direction is indicated, and the dice roll yields the targeting error. 
  1. Artillery was absolutely a devastating shock weapon. More so that enemy tanks. All soldiers feared OBA.  
  2. Smoke spotting rounds was used almost only with aircraft attacks. Most spotting rounds were a single shell, usually HE. 
  3. ASL's AR and SR were usually the same event. Apparently, the forward observer and the artillery teams worked closely so that by time the first round was fired, it was right on the money. The WWII guy said most of the time the first round was exactly where is was needed. They were to be within 50 yards the first time. In ASL, that's one hex. It was so accurate occasionally, he would call FFE immediately. Off by 100 yards was rare and he neither one admitted to ever actually seeing one more than 125 yards (three hexes), certainly not ASL's 240 yards (6 hexes). They said a battery of six guns covered firing area of 135 yards x 35 yards although the patterns varied. ASL's impact area of three hexes (120 yards) is about right. There was harassing fire with a very wide dispersion.  
  4. * Placing Rounds. No inital AR placement. Instead, the SR is subject to:

    1. Accuracy: USA dr=1-4; Germany/Britain 1-3, all others 1-2.  
    2. Scatter: USA: dr=1-4, 1 hex; 5-6 = 2 hexes. All others: dr=1-3, 1 hex; 4-5 = 2 hexes, 6 = 3 hexes.
    * Keep the FFE1 and FFE2. Apparently when the battery starts to fire, each gun fires three rounds before being able to stop. The WWII guy said this could take as long as 15 minutes depending on spread and firing rate. 15 minutes in ASL time is seven turns, the entire length of a average scenario. In ASL, this would be an FFE3 and FFE4, perhaps excessive in game terms. On the other hand, should OBA even be used at all? both officers said they would rarely have OBA tactically with friendly infantry nearby. They’d shell the bejeepers out of the target first and then move in with the troops.

    * The first cut's the deepest. The first round was the most deadly. Causalities would fall off 75% during the second (ASL's FFE2) since the soldiers were either dead or had gone to ground. Consider giving the FFE1 an extra -1 DRM.

This snippet from an article by Robert Delwood points out several problems with ASL artillery rules, which I wil  try to remedy with the new system.
Thus, the impact area for full effect becomes 12 cm in diameter instead of 5 cm.  The maximum error becomes 6" = 15 cm = 150 m.  Errors above 100 m are rare.
Error dice are determined as follows:
Distance between spotter and target <750 = D3 error
Distance between spotter and target >760 = D6 error
Artillery can shoot in and decrease the error from D6 to D3 to on target firing single HE rounds, then Fire for Effect for up to 4 consecutive turns.  This makes artillery very powerful indeed.  The first attack hits with full force, the subsequent rounds with LCS (Left column shift) 2.

4. High Explosive Fire Effect Table
The changes in the HE table were not successful.  Damage to infantry was minimal, rallying way too powerful.  Somewhere during the changes balance got completely lost.  One problem is the complexity of the procedure.  Determine the firepower, roll 2D6, then roll again with one die to determine the effect on the target.  IF a conditional result is rolled, roll another D6 to check whether the unit is effected.  This has to be simpler.  In the end the only question is whether the unit is effected by the enemy fire.  Rolling against unit quality with 1D6 means elite units are almost invulnerable.

To remedy this, the following changes will take place:
  1. The HE table will be recalculated in order to obtain a more realistic physical model.  The Eliminated results are more or less on target, some minor tweaking is needed.   The other results that the table can yield will be numerical values, indicating suppression suffered.  These numbers will run a lot higher.  The suppression suffered will accumulate and cause units to get pinned or rout.  Units with a better quality will resist longer.  Units in range of a -1 or -2 leader will resist longer.  The high suppression that a unit can suffer in one round will make it possible for a unit to rout in one round.
  2. The complicated suppression roll with modifiers (roll a D6 for S+1 with a -1 leader against unit quality 5) will be completely dropped.
  3. The pin check and rout check will be completely dropped.
  4. The effects will be simplified: S > Q means pinned.  No check required.  S > 2Q means unit breaks and routs.
The consequence of this is that infantry combat resolution will be quicker and simpler:  Determine firepower, point at affected unit, roll 2D6, apply result.  If suppression > quality, pin the unit (different die color).  If S > 2Q rout the unit (change die color again)

5. Another factor that will influence effect of fire is rallying.  With the new HE table, the amount of suppression rallying can remove is more or less correct.  In order to make the math simpler, we will change the system though: 
For rallying, first remove a number of suppression points equal to leader rating.  If this brings suppression back to 0 for a routed unit, change the state to pinned, and restore a number of suppression points equal to unit Q.  If the unit was just pinned, it becomes fresh again.  Excess points are lost.
Then, roll a D6.  This roll is substracted from leader Q + unit Q.  The result is the amount of suppression to remove.  If this brings suppression back to 0 for a routed unit, change the state to pinned, and restore a number of suppression points equal to unit Q.  The unit cannot have any more suppression points removed this turn.

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