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I use a single unpainted figure to represent concealed infantry elements. Use your own rules to determine how and when these elements are detected
Observation is one of the most contentious issues in wargaming - can you see my tank behind that house, can I see your troops in the woods? Rapid Fire has a fairly comprehensive observation chart that is not too complicated and suits the speed of the game well. A single die roll sorts out most of the "can he/can't he" decisions.
In a solo game, often played over several sessions, it is important to distinguish between those elements that can be seen and those that cannot. To do this, I divide my elements up into 4 basic types - infantry, softs, armour and artillery. I have small bases of figures, a truck, a small tank and an artillery piece, mounted on a proper base but painted matt black all over. I call these black models "shadows". The infantry versions are shown above for British, German, American and French troops. A single shadow model is used to represent an element or group of elements that is on the table but not yet spotted by the enemy. A composite force, perhaps comprising armour and transport, will have a shadow representing either. Towed artillery is shown by a soft skinned towing vehicle - it is not neccesary to show the artillery piece as well when it is not deployed.
The shadows are numbered and cross-referenced to a list until they are placed on the table. As an element is observed/spotted/acquired (whatever term you wish to use), the shadow is removed and the actual element replaces it on the table. Cohesion within the elements on the table means that, for me, if one element has spotted an enemy shadow, they will communicate the fact to their colleagues. Thus when the shadow is replaced, it means all elements on the observing side are now aware of it's presence. If a composite force is spotted, then all elements within that force are spotted and placed on the table.
A waste of models - buying them just to paint them black? Well actually, old or broken vehicles and "prototype" models representing my early attempts at scratch building are ideal. If you do have to buy a vehicle, try eBay or similar for something that might be damaged or badly made/painted. You would not want to use them for a game but they can often be picked up for a few pennies and make excellent shadows!
Incidentally, the red paratrooper in the foreground of the photograph is the "Aim point" for landings. All deviations away from the landing point (as a result of wind etc) are measured from this figure. When all the paratroops have landed, this figure is removed.
We have all seen those films where the hero's gun never runs out of ammunition. Wouldn't life be good if that were the case with everything!
In FYOB and FYOW, supply is an important factor and I restrict all weapons apart from infantry rifles/SMG's etc to a specific number of rounds. This adds a new dimension to the game and reflects the actual dilemnas faced by soldiers as well as taking away the temptation to shoot at everything on every bound. In some scenarios, infantry fire can be restricted if it has a bearing on the battle.
Rapid Fire! deals with this issue with a simple rule affecting tank guns and artillery but I prefer to use a house rule. The data I have collected for each type of tank shows the number of rounds carried and this is scaled down to give each tank a specific number of rounds. I do not break this down further into AP, HE, smoke etc - the tank simply has the capability of firing X times using whatever round type it chooses. You may consider this too detailed when set against the background of the rules I am using. However I like the idea of restricting firepower and in the same way as different tanks have different speeds. Besides, the German SturmPanzer VI (Sturmtiger) with its 380mm L5 howitzer should not have the same number of rounds as a Sherman!
The Bavarian Corporal famously made the prediction that he was coming to England a few months before changing his mind and heading East instead. In solo wargame terms, planning and launching an assault against yourself may seem something of a thankless task - after all, unless I am a half-wit without a short term memory to speak of (no comments please wife...), how can I surprise myself?
The answer is as simple as a few blank white postcards.
It is bound 6 of the game and the British CO has seen off the German assault. He now wishes to counter attack whilst the Panzers fall back. The plan is to attack on either bound 7, 8 or 9 depending on how quickly he can bring up some reserves, shuffle his defensive line to release some much needed armour support and call up the artillery to harass the retreating force. 3 plain white postcards are used - one marked with an X. They are shuffled and placed in a pile on the Admin table. At the start of bound 7, a card is drawn and the attack will be launched if it bears the X mark. If it is blank, the preparations continue and the CO does not draw another card until the start of bound 8. All unused or blank cards are recycled for their next use.
This system has the advantage of letting a predictive system determine when the attack will take place without it becoming totally random (you have control of the bound numbers and the number of cards used). The CO will have been given his orders by his superior and now has the task of assembling the required force. If he goes early, he may find the retreating Germans in disarray but may only have a small force at his disposal. Going 3 bounds later may give him a better strike force but his foe may well have found a decent defensive line and "rallied" their confidence.
Incidentally, in FYOB, the "Continuous Momentum" and "Casualty Milestone" factors determine the mental state of the troops on the ground and the reaction of the German Commander as his attack starts to falter. The mechanisms in FYOB determine (1) at what point the individual elements dive for cover or retreat and (2) when the commander calls off the attack and sets a rallying point for his forces.
Radio contact must be established to change artillery targets and to call down an air strike or artillery fire from a battery.
Refer to Authority (Radio) Test rules for details.
An Artillery Observation Officer (or Forward Observation Officer) (or just Observation element) must be stationary during the bound he attempts to contact the battery but other radio operations can be carried out on the move. (This does not apply to Observation Officers in aircraft of course!)
The AOO cannot fire and therefore, if he throws a Fire order on the Order Dice, he may interpret this as an Action order.
A AOO may be in an aircraft but can only direct fire during the 5 bounds spent over the table. If driven off he may not direct fire.
An AOO can direct 1 battery unless a Radio truck is present on the table in which case he can control any number provided that they are directed at the same target.
If the radio operator fails to net his set in, he may try again on the next bound. If after 3 attempts, the radio is still not netted in, it is deemed to be DIS for the remainder of the game
Hits on buildings
I use a system of defence values for buildings, determined at the start of the game. This is very old school Charles Grant but it is a simple system and it works for me!
When hit by HE fire, the building absorbs damage first (before the occupants) on a cumulative basis to the following extent;
Wire/road block, "loose" obstacle 2 points
Small building/hut etc 4 points
House, water tank, emplaced gun etc 5 points
Factory, hotel, church etc 7 points
Pillbox, coastal gun emplacement 9 points
Type A 3 pts
small wood or iron structures over a stream or ditch. No vehicles other than motorcycles or KettenKrad etc may cross
Type B 9 pts
stone or iron structure over a small river.
5pts damage = no heavy traffic may cross
Type C 12 pts
iron bridge over river.
7pts damage = no heavy traffic may cross
Type D 15 pts
stone or girder bridge over river
10 pts damage = no heavy traffic may cross
Bridge types must be specified at the outset of the game. Refer to "Construction and repair" section for details of repairs to bridges after damage.
Rivers are divided into 3 categories for ease. Each stretch of water encountered during a game or campaign should be identified as belonging to each of these three categories at the outset.
Class 1 water
This is, essentially, a river that is an extension of the sea and therefore, by definition, the sea is Class 1 water.
A Class 1 river can be crossed using a bridge (usually steel or stone), inland craft or ferry. It can be navigated by Elite or Special Forces troops in a dingy or rubber boat, canoe etc. It can be navigated by E-Boats, MTB's etc and small armed trawlers. Not normally available for submarines unless surfaced. Can be swum by Elite or Special Forces troops only. Travel is subjected in a FYOW game to restrictions on speed as a result of weather (see weather rules).
Class 2 water
This is a large river represented on the table by a river in excess of 6 inches wide (20mm scale)
A Class 2 river can be crossed using a bridge or ferry. Can be swum or crossed in a dingy, rubber boat, canoe etc by troops with Regular or Enhanced Regular or Special Forces capability. It can only be navigated by the craft mentioned here. Travel not affected by weather. Can be bridged by a pontoon bridge unit.
Class 3 water
This is a small river or canal represented on the games table by a stretch of water less than 6 inches wide.
It can be crossed using a bridge, dingy or rubber boat or be waded by all troops. Travel not affected by the weather. Can be bridged using a bridge-laying AFV.
I allow any group of 4 figures (1/2 of a company), a vehicle, a gun crew or an aircraft/boat the opportunity to observe enemy positions each bound. They get one test (if such a test is required) for every 4 figures, vehicle, gun crew etc that they are trying to spot.
The basic idea that 4 figures get one test to see 4 figures gives rise to the name The 4 x 4 Rule.
This is modified from Rapid Fire! and allows a greater chance of observation for larger groups trying to spot larger targets.
I also have a set of parameters for FOO/Recce troops spotting geographical features or buildings to use as artillery targets. A modified version of this rule allows covert operations to gather information about a building or other feature. The observer has to get within a certain distance to claim automatic ability to gather information.