|A patch of Estonia - about to get very busy!|
When I began work again last week on my Mechanised Warfare rules (currently known As Contact Wait Out, primarily for 1980+, but also extendable back to WW2 and forward to near future SF) I was aghast to see that I last tinkered with them back in 2016. In fact, a quick look at my hard drive (well Dropbox) shows that the very first draft was in 2008! Growing up I played WRG’s modern set (well it only went up to 1975 when I bought it!), but found that each new edition just added more and more complications (1st/2nd Edn was 44/40 pages, 3rd Edn and Challenger/4th Edn were 64 pages!). Coming back to gaming I tried Force on Force but the level was too low, ditto Chain of Command (and a bit too gamey). I didn’t like Rapid Fire treatment of unit sizes, IABSM was probably close, and Cold War Commander even closer. In fact, if I could be confident of the BKC/CWC future development I might be tempted to just vary it with some house rules. I’m also hoping to try BattleGroup Northag, and hope to pick up Sabre Sqn at Salute. There are others on my to do list, but I’m guessing as ever I’ll only be happy with my own set.
The first versions of CWO were trying for a WRG 1st Edn Lite. I then went down the “if a naked man has a fire-power of 1” rabbit hole (and still think it has merits for firepower, if not for points). In the last (2016) version (still just called MechWar) I tried to do everything on cards, index cards for each rule section, and Top Trumps style cards with unit stats for each unit. Whilst fine in principle, in practice I would never find the right index card or unit card at the right time, and having everything on one or two sides of A4 for rules, and an A4 set of tables for units for each side has to be quickest.
|The 2016 iteration of Contact Wait Out with index card rules and unit cards|
So I’ve now embarked on the 2019 version of CWO, and I think its looking good so far – although it’s only hitting the table this week. In terms of what I want to achieve my goals are:
- More at the simulation than game end (so reasonable number of DMs), but playable (perhaps 2-4hrs for a game)
- Suppression as probably the key infantry ranged attack mechanism, not as an afterthought to aimed fire. Watching YouTube videos just getting rounds in the right general area seems to be the aim!
- An activation mechanism that doesn’t leave units standard because they cant activate. This is the 21st Century (or late 20th) and most units have enough nouse to do something sensible
- … but one which introduces some uncertainty, avoids IGO-UGO and allows for overwatch
- Spotting is important. The modern dictum is “try not to be seen, if you get seen then don’t get acquired, if you get acquired then don’t get hit, if you get hit then don’t get penetrated, and if you get penetrated don’t die!”
- Anti-tank weapons should have a critical armour level above which they just can’t penetrate. No 2-pdr anti-tank taking on Tigers. Yes I know lucky shots happen but….
- A set which will work from a game with only reinforced platoon per side (below that it’s probably skirmish territory) and up to a Bn a side, perhaps even a Bde. One challenge is that if you are playing realistic attack/defence scenarios then you can expect the attacker to have x3 to x5 what you have, so if you have a Platoon, they will almost certainly have a company, or two, and could even have a weak Bn, so the rules must be able to cope with one side at least one command level up or down from the other.
- Going into this I’m totally open about dice type and use. I’m not a great fan of the “bucket of dice” model, and have at least two of my own “special dice” I could try, earlier versions have used various combinations, but for modern games (CWO and skirmish ) I do like the idea of percentage dice since then you know exactly what a DM means (+20%).
And being me it has to work on a hex grid of course, 4cm or 10cm.
So, what decisions have I made so far:
- Suppression: Had a brain wave on this whilst walking the dog. Only the defender roles for suppression – it is assumed that the attacker can get the bullets at least roughly in the area. Weight of fire etc still count, but there is only one role. Weight of fire is based on a “naked man” scale of points per weapon (at each range band), added up, and then player gets 1 dice per X points (see below for dice and X).
- Activation: I still think that a card activation system works really well – just enough friction even without a “tea-break” card. Activation is one or two levels below the force command, so at Pl level for a Company force.
- Spotting: Simple roll plus DMs. However rather than a single target role I’ve long liked the idea of some form of “environment” variable. At 100m per hex (esp at 4cm) then if you were to do hedgerows then almost every 1-2 hexes needs a hedge, which isn’t going to happen. So instead I abstract the general environment and you have a base 5+ to spot if on Salisbury plain, 6+ in rural Kent, 4+ in the Iraqi desert etc. Aimed fire has the same categories, but a naturally high target (eg 7+ not 5+). Suppression only score actual hits (c.f suppression) if you are really lucky, aimed fire scores hits as a purpose, but are harder to get than suppression.
- Critical armour: Gun and armour are rated. If you gun is one below your max armour you have a much reduced chance of a hit. Less than that and no chance. If your gun exceeds the tgt armour that gives you a DM for damage.
- Multi-level: Shamelessly stealing an idea here. I kept debating whether to call CWO Pl/Coy or Coy/Bn, or even Bn/Bde rules. The answer is to side-step the issue and talk about resolution (thanks Buck Surdue and Albedo Combat Patrol). The rules define 2 resolution levels (basically foot elm = sect or pl, or even coy, and veh elm = individual veh, or tp or sqn) and you then decide which you want to use (based on table size, model collection, model scale, time!). The raw “firepower” that has been calculated for each element then just has a different divisor applied (already done for you in the unit charts) to say how many dice you get, so perhaps FP/5 for high resolution. But FP/20 for low resolution (or even FP/50 for very low).
- Dice: Whilst, as said, I like the percentage idea, 2 dice are a pain, and anyway one military maxims says that effects of less than 10% don’t count, so if you’re only doing 10% (or perhaps 5%) resolution then why not just use a D10 or D20? I started with D20, but you then start to gets DMs of +4 (eg for +20%), which starts to make the mental maths awkward, so I think I’m going with D10. The firepower model for infantry then gives how many dice to throw, and for vehs its simply one per veh at lower resolutions (but both against a common target, so not quite a full BOD model with add/subtract dice, and small numbers).
So that’s my thought process so far, we'll see what happens.
The other shift I want to make is to open up a parallel strand to my favourite of 1986 (I’m determined to get a figure representing me on the wargames table – just need to do the Airmobile Bde!), and that will be the Baltic States (with NATO reinforcement) in the 2020-205 time frame so I can have realistic scenarios of peer adversaries using not only with the latest kit, but also with the UCVs/ACV that are coming next. And looking at the area of Google Maps its got far more cover than the North German Plain so should be a lot more fun!