Monday, 18 November 2019

Long Road....Short Wait

I'm very excited to see how this new game from Flying Pig is coming on. A development from their Platoon Commander series, The Long Road is full on WW3 1985 style with a large number of linked scenarios. Due spring next year and definitely on my present list (I'll invent an extra birthday at the right moment!).

Research or drinking beer?

It is remarkable how in-depth research can appear to the uninitiated as sitting about drinking beer. Indeed, I have been researching very hard and am busy digging up some interesting modern tactical stuff. 

One great source is CALL (Centre for Army Lessons Learned). The 17-02 Newsletter (December 2016) is called "Decisive Action Training Environment at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Vol. XIV: Company-level Combined Arms Maneuver". At JRTC (Combat Training Center, Louisiana) the OPFOR is provided by 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment who rough up in fine style all units put through the training routine. The hard lessons learned are fairly brutal as shown in this example:

How Can I Best Plan Where to Employ My Weapon Systems? infantry company was tasked with establishing a blocking position on a high-speed avenue of approach near Hilltop 95. The company commander was able to position key weapon systems far enough away from the blocking obstacle that they could be effective against the planned targets. One critical deduction missed was that these weapon systems had no line of sight due to vegetation. The enemy was able to move through the blocking position’s dead space and destroy the company.

Other lessons that are really interesting are:

  • Companies do not identify the ammunition consumption rate required to attain the doctrinal level of effect for a given task for a given time period (they don't brass up the target enough to suppress it effectively).
  • Platoons and squads do not forecast the impact of moving the ammunition to succeed in achieving the specified task ("ammunition weighs more in person than it does on paper" as it cogently explains).

  • And the real gold dust for all wargame designers is a table entitled: 
    Analog tool for commander’s reference in determining munitions requirements for a given task (i.e., enemy suppression). Basically this shows realistic ranges and fire suppression rates (effective range with a 50% probability of a hit):

    • small arms 200m against troops
    • .50 cal HMG 800m vs vehicles
    • 40mm GL 400m vs troops/vehicles
    • AT4 300m vs vehicles 
    The only weapons with a long reach deployed by infantry themselves are 60mm mortars and Javelin missiles.

    Wednesday, 6 November 2019

    Numbers, numbers and even more numbers...

    Bang on gunner! I reckon 47.5% chance of a hit after mods for stabilisation!
    I have been enjoying posts by top boffin Phil Dutre on his blog Wargame Mechanics. Not being a prof, and having missed negative binomial distribution in school (I forgot my PE kit, honest), I have to take the posts very slowly. Nevertheless, there is some great stuff here.

    One of the issues with many relatively simple mechanics is figuring out the parameters, what sort of results spread do I really want? This is the case for any rules where there is a roll to hit and the target is destroyed after an appropriate number of hits. Phil examines this issue in detail in his July post "1 hit for 10 damage, or 10 hits for 1 damage each?".

    I strongly recommend you read his post, which has graphs and lots of squiggly equations. However, I have simplified the core of his presentation down to this:

    1. What is the hit probability? You are shooting at a target and you hit on a score of 4, 5 or 6 on one d6. This gives 3 possible successes from 6 possible outcomes so 50% probability. 

    Note that if this was a d8 and the same hit number is used (4 or more) the probability of success is 62.5% (5 successful possible outcomes out of 8 possible outcomes). There is great potential for using different types of dice.

    2. How many hits can the target can take before destruction? Let's say 4 points of damage.

    3. How much damage is caused by one hit? Keep it simple and say one point of damage per hit.

    So how do we calculate the number of shots that are required to kill the target?

    Shots to kill = target damage points/(hit probability x damage per hit)

    In this scenario the shots to kill = 4/(3/6 x 1)

    Therefore shots to kill = 4/0.5 = 8

    This is easy peasie and you can set up an excel spreadsheet to work out the range of results with different parameters. 

    The more tricky issues to consider are the likely number of units shooting at the same target in one turn, the number of units and the number of turns in the game. This allows you to consider what sort of attrition rates you need to have a decent and exciting game in a useful number of turns.

    Lessons here are don't forget your kit when doing posh maths, don't drink beer and do hard sums and sometimes doing some proper maths rather than endless play testing will help with design decisions. I have, of course, learnt none of these but am continuing to aim to be a better person!

    Edit: Many thanks to everyone for helping me with my maths homework. Hopefully this is now correct!

    Tuesday, 5 November 2019

    Does size really matter....?

    Well, it obviously depends on how you are measuring it. Anyway, lets get back to toy soldiers!

    My pondering is around the question of how big is 10mm? I have done a survey on how these miniatures are described:

    • Victrix Games: 12mm or 1/144 (new WW2 range)
    • Plastic Soldier Co: 10mm or 1/144 (new NORTHAG range)
    • Pendraken: 10mm or 1/150
    • Cold War 84: 10mm or 1/144
    • Minifigs: 10/12mm or N gauge

    The Pendraken size description is interesting because their figures are 10mm but their vehicles are deliberately 1/150 for a good fit with other ranges. Also interesting is that Irregular's Bush Wars 10mm troops are made deliberately bigger to fit with other manufacturers 12mm ranges.

    As to what these descriptions really mean remains to be seen (in the flesh as it were). However, the maths seem to me to be this:

    1/144 ~ 13mm
    1/150 ~ 12mm
    1/160 ~ 11mm
    1/200 ~ 9mm

    In my view, the older you get the less size matters. As a youngster I found it impossible to use 1/300 and 1/285 troops together. Nowadays I couldn't even see them, let alone the difference. I suspect that the various scale descriptions will be pretty meaningless until we see the actual products and test what fits best together.

    As you can see from the picture above, the NORTHAG idea has strongly resonated with me. I have been revisiting many old war games including Mech War, NATO Divisional Commander (oh yes!) and several other games from the real Cold War. 

    Lots of ideas cooking once "Battle of Hue!" finally launches.