Refereed/Collaborative Gaming: Most wargames are by their nature adversarial. Treating the game as more of operational level RPG, however, allows for realistic modelling of one side's doctrine as well as the ability to model friction/fog of war. It seems ideal for running campaign style games, where each battle influences the next and rewards players for maintaining strategic objectives and force protection/preservation. The pitfall of this design often occurs when the Referee gets too invested in his force and chooses to leverage his advantage in player knowledge for the easy win.
- Modern Spearhead as the base. I was heavily influenced by the Battlegroup Commander Red Storm rules I found on-line a few years back. It is essentially a D10 conversion of MSH, with several rules adaptions like the ones I am attempting. The R-Track for air missions, is a nice touch, as are some of their ideas on Recon.
- Reconnaissance: I like the idea of using the Recon/Counter-Recon fight to influence the initial conditions. I do, however need to refine the methods; perhaps something that allows you to 'spend' stands prior to the fight to commit them to the Recon fight. The factors I want to integrate are:
- Doctrinal Factors (Recon Led vs Command Push)
- Number and Type of Recon Assets
- Mission types of forces
- GSR/ELINT capabilities
- Integrated Combat Support to BN Command stands: For simplicity's sake modelling separate BN support assets (Mortar Platoon, Attached MANPADs, Fire Support) as part of the command stand makes battle management a little easier. I find that I am constantly forgetting about BN mortars, and the MANPAD stands (Stinger, Blowpipe, Strella). Stinger teams, for example, rarely deploy as platoons. Instead a single Battery is parceled out to support down to the company level. The same can be said of the fire support team (FiST) who have a FST-V assigned to each maneuver company. While there are separate entities like the COLT (Laser Designation) teams and Forward Air Control Parties (FAC-P) they can still be handled on a case by case basis. Thus I find integrating these functions into the command stand reduces clutter on the table and better helps model doctrine.
- Field Artillery: Closely related to the above are the changes I am making to FA assets. Modelling down to the individual gun section leads to lots of dice rolling and tracking. I have seen scenarios where the artillery is given 6 fire missions per battery for the game. For this scenario that would have been tracking 108 separate salvos! The extended time interval (1 turn ~ 30min) also precludes any attempt to 'bracket' a target and fire for effect. Finally, the need to actually deploy the batteries onto the table only works for very large tables. Unlike WWII games we are discussing ranges in excess of 10000m. (80" in scale) I have several painted SS-21 and SCUD-B launchers, I really don't see deploying them onto a table at 1"=125m, perhaps if I get access to a Gym floor. Add in something like the M109A6 Paladin, with its ability to shoot an accurate fire mission and move within 3 minutes and the process becomes academic. Thus I am approaching artillery as more of an abstraction. Considerations are:
- Area (suspected locations) vs. Point (Observed) fire.
- Number of Batteries assigned to a specific target area.
- Size and type of munitions.
- Battery responsiveness (Priority fire vs General Support)
- Observing unit (Bonus for Recon units, BNs with decentralized Forward Observers)
Hopefully I can find a way to keep it down to no more than 2 rolls /target stand/turn
- Air Defense: The multiple layers of Air Defense assets (Variable altitude engagement bands, missiles, guns, radars....) also create a nightmare of complexity. I can already handle the issue of Short range defense by augmenting command stands with missile launchers and guns. (ZSU-23-4, 2S6 etc.) The other two factors are the overall air superiority environment. (The air battle) and the the air defense threat from the various dedicated batteries.
- The first issue I handled with a contested die roll. Both sides roll off, with modifiers for the group with air superiority or anything the Referee comes up with. (Perhaps a surge by Frontal Aviation gives the Soviets a massive bonus for an important turn.) The side that wins can call in an air mission.
- The missile threat I covered with the Air Defense Factor, essentially the Air Defense network makes an attack on every penetrating sortie. If it hits, the sortie bags off or is destroyed. If it misses the attack goes through.
- Close-Air Support: This area needs a lot of work. I want to be able to have the players allocate their air points pre-game as part of their planning. Overall missions are
- Interdiction: Delay and/or damage reinforcements
- Disruption: Attack on enemy C2 and communication nodes.
- AD Suppression: Attack enemy air defense network to make it easier for other missions to make it through.
- Counter Battery: Suppress/Destroy artillery assets
- CAS: Direct attacks on ground forces
- Rotary Wing Support: I tried to integrate this with the CAS rules and it just didn't work. I think I will go back to the Spearhead rules of writing timed orders and let them take their chances with the Air Defense network.
- Chemical Weapons: Worked well, definitely influenced the battle. I like the addition of the morale test following first use.
- Tactical Nuclear Weapons: I will keep this as a scenario only item. Might be useful to open the scenario with a detonation against the players or their option to launch pre-game. Otherwise, the complications/implications alter the game too much.
- Engineer operations: I still haven't had a chance to try this. A deliberate assault can easily render half an engineer BN non-mission capable for the duration of the battle. That and the synchronization of forces (FA, Mortars, Smoke Generators, Sappers, MICLICs, Bridges, Plows, Infantry and Armor) are beyond the scope of the rules I am trying to write. I hate to devolve the entire process down to a contested die roll, but that is probably best to keep the game flowing.
Thanks to anyone who has made the journey this far with me. I will continue to work on my rules, but for now, I think I want to paint camels.....