Sunday, February 23, 2014

Back in Action

Just a small update because I´ve been silent for a while now. I´m back in action after a brief holiday at home and will be in full swing to drive my new projects forward. I´m currently building another German soldier with MG4 and two copies of RPG-armed insurgents for casting with my own version of an RPG to avoid any problems with copyright using weapons made by other people for my masters. They´ll probably be finished very soon, with the potential for pictures later today.

Before going off into my short holiday, we played a game of my modified Force on Force version in our club and I will use the rest of this blogpost for a small debrief on our experience.

Africans defending the outskirts of a city  - T55 has been disabled by Airpower prior to the game

The Firefight mechanism worked as intended to reduce the speed of the game and lower the overall rate of casualties during infantry combat. Quality differences still do have a huuuge effect, we played with D10 TQ vs. D8 TQ and the Veteran troops wiped the Regulars from the field without much effort. Part of that was due to the fact that initiative did not switch throughout the game as we played with standard FoF initiative rules. As winning reaction tests was still key to winning the firefight, things went done pretty one-sided in our scenario - D10 troops outrolled the D8s almost every time, with the additional ability to use teams on Overwatch our Africans were under heavy fire almost all the time and while casualties where low compared to standard FoF, they where suppressed or did simply not have the firepower to hurt the attacking Americans.

Another Airstrike is called in, but the Pilot aborts after coming under fire from AA in the city

With regards to morale, the new mechanisms worked out quite well - thanks again to Zelekendel who made the fantastic contribution of drastically cutting down Morale to one single roll. Troops where getting suppressed and pinned, and did so without suffering any casualties.
However, pinned results seemed like they where too weak. As they occur halfway through the turn and are removed at the end of the turn, they rarely make a difference and just seem to be a step towards suppression, where the real good effect starts to show.
Two potential solutions are:  Step up the effects of pinned results with -1 to TQ  OR have the result carry over into the next turn. I favour the second option combined with a tradeoff to un-pinning a unit and the available initiative dice, so I´ll incorporate that into the Beta for now.

A bitter firefight rages on the Africans right flank

One of the things we did not like at all was the massive "zombification" of casualties. As standard FoF does not provide any good ingame effect for Walking Wounded, except the laughable movement test which did not matter much in our scenario as everyone advanced cautiously, we felt like half of the units that got hit simply went back to the battlefield unscathed  (walking wounded is in effect unscathed - back in action, full firepower).
So, one of the tasks ahead is to create good and meaningful effects for wounded figures, in scenarios where tending to wounded figures DOES matter and has a negative effect on the overall efficiency of troops - or a higher lethality for casualties in cases where the objective is more important than the wounded (like a large regular war or Cold War gone Hot setting).

American Units secure the far side of the river.

One of our players, a relative newcomer to Force on Force, disliked how unstructured the reaction chains seemed to be. "Everyone firing at everything without no restrictions" it seemed to him. Part of that was due to overwatch shooting at everything in sight, although we already did limit the arch of overwatch fire with the help of Chain of Commands Overwatch Marker.
Still, Overwatch did still feel like it was too powerful, with overwatchers putting a huge amount of fire downrange and switching targets from left to right and back in the blink of an eye. I´m pondering with a drastic cutback in the ability of overwatch teams, limiting their ability to interrupt reactions to one or two interruptions during a turn. This would force players to think more thoroughly about what to interrupt.

Last of all, I dislike that command figures and NCOs in FoF are just another soldier contributing just another Firepower dice. I like their influence in Chain of Command and how they shape the battlefield, while in FoF they seem to be utterly meaningless. You can mix and match any unit regardless of their initial squad allegiance without any confusion or negative implications. I´m by no means a military expert, but as a hobby Milsim-player I know that this is utterly wrong even in the age of radio communication. However, this issue will need deep thinking and won´t be solved in this iteration of the rules.

American Forces overwhelm the African resistance on the right flank

To sum things up, here´s my Force on Force Houserules version 0.3:

Alternative Firefights.

  • Reaction Test as usual
  • Calculate Firepower as usual
  • Roll Firepower & count the number of successes
  • Now, instead of calculating your defense pools, roll the appropriate number of saves 
First change here is that I´ve switched to D10 instead of a D8 to give a wider variety of results and a better chance for survivial in good cover.

Success number & modifiers have changed in the following way:
  • Standard Save on 5+ (4 or less = casualty) = for any open position, but not exposed.
  •   Improved cover: +2 (casualties on roll of 1 or 2)
  •   Solid Cover: +1 (casualties on roll of 1,2, or 3)
  •   In Cover: +
  •   Smoke: +1
  •  Taliban after successful Ambush: +1
Cover Modifiers are of course not cumulative, but other modifiers are. A 1 is always a failed save. So a team "in cover" behind solid cover will gain a +2 on their saving roll, which means they´ll only suffer casualties on a roll of 1 or 2  (because a roll of 3  modified by +2 is a 5 and thus a successful save).

Negative modifiers are:
  • Irregulars / poorly trained troops:  - 1
  • Exposed: -1
  • Rapid Movement: -1
  • Subjected to Artillery or Airstrike: -3
  • Flanked: -2

 Alternative Morale

In addition to this, I´ve included new rules for suppression & pinning.
Instead of having a separate action named "suppressive fire", just consider any fire to be suppressive now:

  • For any successful firepower die roll 1 Morale die of the appropriate die type
  • Any 4+ is a success, any 1-3 is a failure
  • The first failure will "pin" your units in place, preventing any further movement. 
  • The second failure will "suppress" your unit, degrading your TQ by 1 negative die shift
Just roll them all at once, if you have different colors you can even roll morale & saves at the same time.

Units stay "pinned" or "suppressed" until the end of NEXT turn when they loose one marker (i.e. from "pinned" to nothing or from "suppressed" to "pinned). Players can sacrifice an initiative die per unit to remove ONE marker at the beginning of a turn. Before rolling initiative, that is.

Body Armor & Wounds

One last change I made is the application of body armor. Armor doesn´t prevent hits. It doesn´t really make sense to me that FoF give a bonus die for body armor in addition to a first aid roll that determines the severity of the wounds.
So here´s the change I made:

  • Troops with body armor use the standard FoF First Aid Table
  • Troops without body armor incur a -1 modifier on the first Aid Table 
  • e.g. 1,2 = dead, 3,4= serious, 5,6 = light wound
Or framed in another way: Body armor grants a +1 on the first aid table, while the "standard" table is deadlier. If unarmored troops get hit, you can be sure it has done at least minor damage!
Wound effects 

Apply these effects to any faction engaged in a small wars environment, modern day western powers with advanced medical aid and Casevac. 

-Units with "dead" casualties take a Morale check according to standard FoF and apply a "pinned" result as outlined above if they fail.

-Units with "serious" casualties suffer -1 Firepower as the teammates are busy stabilizing their critically wounded companion and are immediately "pinned". Once unpinned, they may only move tactical distances (6") as long as there are more healthy than wounded figures. Serious casualties take continous First Aid checks in subsequent turns until they are either dead (rolling a 1) or evacuated to medical personell (Medics, Casualty Collection Points, Casevac Zone). The wounded figure counts as dependent, in order to avoid Close Assault the casualty has to be abandoned.

-Figures with "light" wounds should retain about 75% of their fighting capabilities with severely reduced movement ability (25% on average) due to their injuries. My proposition is to give light units full firepower but force the unit to re-roll one success per lightly wounded figure to represent their degraded fighting capabilities. Units with lightly wounded figures may only move tactical distances (6") if there are more healthy than wounded figures. They must take a TQ check to avoid close assault, otherwise they have to stand and fight or abandon their casualty to retreat.

For scenarios with less attention to detail (Cold War Gone Hot, WW2, "Big" Wars - anything where Mission comes before Men) I´d recommend treating any "serious" wound as dead, as your casualties are probably left for dead or dying without proper treatment as the mission takes priority.

I´ll be fiddling with overwatch, initiative and command & control stuff next, possibly diverging from FoF even more...

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